The announcement of the date of the next NUT national strike has been made - it's Wednesday March 26.
Every NUT rep and officer now needs to be spreading that news and building for a mass show of strength in opposition to Gove's damaging attacks on teachers and education. We also hope that other unions may be willing to co-ordinate with us in taking strike action on that day [UPDATE: The UCAC teachers' union in Wales has also announced that they will be calling a one-day strike on March 26th].
Let's start planning right away for reps' meetings, and members' meetings in schools to build for action. Let's channel the discontent in schools at the intolerable pressures we are under into solid strike action at the end of March.
After the delay since the regional strikes last year, and the failure to meet the February 13 deadline originally set for action, there may be some questions from members about the Union's overall strategy. We need to make clear that this is not just a 'protest' action but must be part of an ongoing campaign of action intended to defeat the attacks on our pensions, pay and conditions.
These attacks are also attacks on education. The National Union will also be issuing model parents' leaflets so that we can get our message out to parents - via school mailings, on school-gates and on public activities.
Finally, teachers will realise that this announcement has not been made jointly with the NASUWT. Regrettably, it remains unclear as to whether they are willing to call the action required to defend teachers and education. A decision will be made when their National Executive meets on February 14. I am sure that many NASUWT colleagues will want their National Executive members to support joint action.
Let's hope that the NASUWT agree to strike with us and that their members aren't placed in the invidious position of being asked to work while their NUT colleagues are on strike. But, whether or not the NASUWT are in action alongside us, at least the NUT has now made clear that, at last, battle is resumed! Let's make sure that March 26 is the huge show of strength needed to put the pressure back on Gove to think again.
The new National Union parents' leaflet can be downloaded from here: http://teachers.org.uk/files/parent-leaflet-a5-4pp-9223.pdf. Here is the main text:
The Coalition Government’s policies threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges. Help us to persuade Michael Gove to change course.
1 Ensure every classroom has a qualified teacher
Academies and free schools are now allowed to employed unqualified teachers. This is a big threat to standards of education.
2 Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed
There is a huge pupil place shortage but councils are not allowed to open new schools. Many councils are driven to putting portacabins on school playgrounds to cope. The Government only allows new “free” schools and these are often in the wrong place.
3 Make sure changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and planned
Rushed changes are stressful for children as well as their teachers. The Government should start listening to what education experts say. They should work together with teachers to develop an exciting and inspiring curriculum that equips children for the modern world.
4 Ensure there are enough new teachers – stop picking fights with the ones we’ve got
Michael Gove keeps criticising teachers. Morale is plummeting. Five years after qualifying 2 in every 5 teachers are no longer teaching. On top of that the current system of training teachers is under-recruiting. But instead of dealing with this problem, Michael Gove keeps attacking the teachers we’ve got and they are striking to defend themselves and education.
5 Get our schools working together and fund them properly
The evidence shows that schools working together is best for all children. Financial scandals at free schools show the dangers of privatisation. On top of this fragmentation, 6th forms in schools and colleges are facing 20% cuts while £1.7 billion has been allocated to wasteful and unnecessary free schools.
Join the campaign for education! Our children, young people and school communities need your help.