THE Hertfordshire branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has launched a nationwide campaign against the government's regime of compulsory testing for all seven, 11 and 14 year olds. These tests-SATs-have become a curse for pupils, parents and teachers alike. Too many primary schools have become production lines for test results which New Labour wants to use for the obscenity of school league tables.
In secondary schools too everything is now geared towards test results. Pupils in England face up to 105 compulsory test papers at school. The children's charity Childline reports that more than one in ten of their calls from children below the age of 11 are about exam stress! The NUT nationally is calling for a ballot for the boycott of some tests. This is a welcome start, but we have to go further.
A complete boycott of SATs would be a massive nail in the coffin for New Labour's plans to turn the clock back to the days of selective, non-comprehensive education.
Already over 20 union branches and dozens of individuals have signed up to the Herts NUT anti-SATs campaign. What we need now is the broadest possible coalition of teachers, parents and all trade unionists, not just teachers.
For more information about the campaign phone Jon Berry, secretary Herts NUT on 01727 835 554 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL UNION of Teachers (NUT) members at Kingsland School in Hackney, east London, struck on Thursday of last week in support of their sacked union rep, Indro Sen. The strike went ahead despite appalling levels of intimidation by management. Many staff at the school are overseas teachers who were made to feel they would be sacked or have work visas revoked for supporting the strike.
The picket line drew support from teachers and other workers in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Camden. 'We've shown we won't just sit by while Indro Sen is sacked', said one Kingsland teacher. Four other schools in Hackney are voting on whether to ballot to join the strike action.'
Indro Sen addressed the rally and told Socialist Worker, 'This is about defending the school and defending union rights as well as about me. The plan of the Learning Trust, which runs education in Hackney, is to move against comprehensive principles. I have fought for comprehensive education all my life, including during the 20 years I have been at Kingsland. I was sacked because I am a thorn in their side.'
NUT rep Sheila McGregor told the rally, 'We have got the support of the union and today shows the support we have got from members in other schools.' Bernard Regan, NUT executive member for inner London, said the union could not retreat from defending reps .
Demonstrate in support of Indro Sen-assemble 12 noon, Saturday 1 February, Kingsland School, Shacklewell Lane, London.
THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers has called a rally for 5 February as the latest stage in the campaign for higher allowances for working in London. The campaign saw two strikes last year and further action is due to be announced at the rally. It is likely to be selective strikes.
Union activists welcome the action, but want to go further. They are arguing for a ballot to refuse to cover for absences of longer than one day to unify the action.