The National Union of Teachers announced today, Friday, plans for a national strike across schools in England and Wales for Wednesday 26 March.
This is officially over the long-standing dispute with government over worsening of our pay, pensions and conditions.
Yet for school workers, parents and students everywhere it is also about Tory education secretary Michael Gove’s dogmatic attacks on education.
The last such national strike was with other workers in the public sector on 30 November 2011. Since then a series of regional school strikes have happened jointly with the other main school union NASUWT.
This national strike was publicly threatened last November, but was postponed on the apparent promise of talks with the Secretary of State. They haven’t happened.
It was then planned for next Wednesday, but colleagues in the NASUWT wanted more time to plan. Their leaders meet on Friday of next week to decide whether or not to join this 26 March strike.
The NUT has no option but to fight on alone if others prevaricate.
Gove combines a neoconservative approach to the job of teaching—ratchetting up testing, dictating his preferred curricula, using Ofsted as a political fear factor, hankering after more grammar schools—withh a neoliberal approach to school management. This means handing public money over to private hands, such as through academies and free schools.
Gove denounces us as “enemies of promise” and dismisses critical local authorities and academics as “The Blob”. Yet Gove is immune to the scandalous failings of some academies and free schools, the crisis of school places due to high birth rates, the burn-out rate of newly qualified teachers. He doesn’t seem to care about the alienation of so many students from a system that leaves them without jobs, independence or hope.
We are right to strike, to blow the whistle on what Gove is actually doing to schools and teaching. But we should be under no illusion that one day will be enough.
The NUT is calling on all concerned to support striking teachers, before and after the marches and rallies that will happen on 26 March. We hope that all other workers who are in dispute can strike with us that day. We also need a National Campaign for Education to unite the different pressure groups and compensate for the woeful lack of alternative vision from Westminster parties.
All Socialist Worker readers should now contact their local schools to state their support for the strikes, and get local pre-strike meetings organised to make the 26 March a success.