TEACHERS at Kingsland School in Hackney, east London, were set to strike on Thursday of this week in defence of our sacked National Union of Teachers (NUT) rep, Indro Sen. This follows an overwhelming vote by NUT members at the school. Union members in four other secondary schools in Hackney are to hold an indicative vote over whether to ballot over the sacking too.
We see the sacking of Indro Sen, a highly respected maths teacher who has been at the school for 20 years, as a serious attack on our union while the authorities are pushing to shut the whole school.
NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy says, 'Sen's dismissal is, in the union's view, unfair and an attack on teacher trade unionism. 'It is important that this attack is resisted. The union concludes that the only reasonable explanation for the treatment of Indro Sen was the fact that he had for a long time been a vociferous and tenacious union representative.' Sen was sacked for failing to return maths coursework immediately when he was told to by management.
But the exam board Edexcel that checked the coursework found it had been marked in an exemplary fashion and students got their GCSE marks on time in August of last year.
The school management has drawn up plans to try to break Thursday's strike by bringing in supply teachers. This is a highly aggressive move and threatens to create chaos among our students. Hackney council has handed over responsibility for schools to the Learning Trust quango.
The trust plans to close Kingsland School and Laburnum Primary, and replace comprehensive secondary schooling with City Academies. These open the door to attacks on teachers' national pay and conditions. They are part of the government dismantling of comprehensive education.
We see Sen's sacking as a softening-up process to weaken opposition to the closure of Kingsland and Laburnum and to the wider attacks on education in Hackney. Recent inspections show the school is improving.
There are not enough secondary school places in Hackney. That, combined with, the campaign to stop the closure of Kingsland has already convinced Hackney's Schools Organising Committee to vote by three to two against closing it.
The decision now rests with a government-appointed adjudicator, which no one can place their faith in. There will be a march against the two school closures on Saturday 1 February.