MEMBERS OF the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union in England and Wales, will receive ballot papers on Monday of next week over forms of action against performance related pay. NUT union leaders have called the indicative ballot under pressure from the grassroots School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay (STOPP) campaign.
About 140 teachers attended a STOPP conference on Saturday. There was a serious discussion over how to turn the overwhelming opposition of teachers to performance pay into the kind of action that can stop New Labour's scheme.
Kevin Courtney is the secretary of the NUT union in Camden, north London. He said, "Two New Labour MPs in east London, Oona King and Jim Fitzpatrick, have written to David Blunkett saying that they have not come across a single teacher who is in favour of his scheme. "The fact that two Blair loyalists are asking Blunkett to reconsider shows the depth of the opposition."
The rigged ballot to keep selective education in Ripon, the resignation of three "super-heads" and the exposure as a con of the government's claims to be spending �19 billion extra on education have all fed anger among teachers and parents. Many teachers at the meeting reported that "Blunkett's worst fortnight" had boosted confidence in staffrooms.
Jenny Taylor from Bradford said, "There was a buzz around the staffroom when news broke that Ken Livingstone was standing against New Labour in London. There is a feeling that if he can run against Blair's candidate then we can fight in the schools." The meeting passed a resolution calling for STOPP groups to be set up in schools and localities. Building opposition school by school has to go alongside ensuring a big vote for action in the NUT union survey. The survey asks whether NUT members will support 1) a national demonstration, 2) a one day strike, 3) a boycott of performance management training, and 4) a lobby of parliament.
The bigger the yes vote to all of these options, the harder it will be for NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy to ignore the mood among teachers.
HULL TEACHER Chris Hassan is back at work after being suspended for over a month. Chris, who is mixed race, was suspended from Kingswood High School in north Hull after he refused to teach a pupil who had racially abused him. Over 500 school students signed a petition backing their teacher and some walked out in protest.