No to tests for five year olds
Teachers passed a motion opposing the use of phonics reading testing—which would be carried out on children as young as five.
They voted for a campaign, including a boycott if the Year 1 Phonics Test is used to contribute to league tables.
The national executive member moving the motion said, “I did not come into teaching to label children as failures. I will stop the test at the first sign of a child’s stress as a result.”
Debating the pensions dispute
More than 150 people attended a fringe meeting on austerity and resistance held by the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance.
Deputy general secretary of the NUT Kevin Courtney said that, “We are right not to stop fighting on pensions now.”
But he argued that the 28 March London strike had been a mistake, because “it was wrong to take out London on its own”.
Courtney said, “We shouldn’t make a miscalculation and use up our members’ willingness to strike before we’ve got all the ducks in a row on the question.”
One teacher speaking from the floor got huge applause when she said, “I don’t agree with Kevin. The mistake wasn’t London striking—it was not calling a national strike”.
The meeting also heard from a rank and file electrician, a London teacher, Jeremy Corbyn MP and a teacher from Greece.
Another 150 teachers crammed into a second fringe meeting on pensions. A number of them are organising in their regions to try and join a planned strike by Unite health workers on 10 May.
Marx fringe attracts 80 people
Over 80 people came to a Socialist Workers Party fringe meeting on Crisis, revolt and resistance: the return of Marx.
There was a lively discussion about the relevance of Marxism for understanding the economic crisis and how we can challenge the system and win.
People discussed the lessons from the recent electricians’ dispute. They argued that this showed the power that ordinary workers have and what is possible when workers organise themselves and fight back.
NUT delegates affiliated the union to the following organisations:
- The Right to Work Campaign
- Defend the Right to Protest
- Middle East and North Africa Solidarity Network
- Unite Against Fascism
- Love Music Hate Racism
- Love Music Hate Homophobia
- The Stop the War Coalition
- Disabled People Against Cuts
- Palestine Solidarity Campaign