Socialist Worker

Teachers' strikes can beat Michael Gove’s attacks on education

Teachers at this week’s NUT union conference will decide how to take the fight against the Tories forward, says Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2399

Thousands marched in London during the teachers strike last month

Thousands marched in London during the teachers' strike last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Teachers are engaged in a fierce battle with Tory education secretary Michael Gove—and it’s a fight that they can win.

Gove is intent on wrecking teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions. 

Many teachers already feel the demands of the job are unsustainable—and that more attacks will damage children’s education.

Nadine Mincoff is a secondary school teacher in south London. She said the focus on tests and results was distorting education. 

“A recent survey showed that secondary school teachers work an average of 56 hours a week,” she told Socialist Worker.

“If teachers are exhausted they can’t do their job properly so it affects the children. It’s the bureaucracy that adds on the time. None of it is benefiting children.”

Calls to Childline in 2011-12 from children with concerns about school and education went up by 

47 ­percent—the third biggest rise it recorded. Some 25 percent of these were about exam pressure.

Pressure

Now Gove wants to bring in ­performance-related pay—which would link individual teachers’ pay to the results of their students. 

It will only increase the pressure and sow division in schools.

Teachers were set to meet for the NUT union’s annual ­conference in Brighton this weekend. It will see a crucial debate on how to take the fight against Gove forward (see right) after a national strike last month.

The walkout was a big success. Some teachers reported a bigger demand for picket line materials than for previous strikes. 

Parents and workers from other unions joined marches and rallies to show their support for the action. 

The NASUWT union was not involved in this strike—despite taking part in previous regional strikes. 

Stefan Simms is a teacher in west London. “We came out in the same numbers as during our regional strike in October and recruited 30 people to the union in one week.”

Striker Kate Moore says, “Support for the strike in my school has been amazing. Even friends who took the day off to look after children support us.”

One day of action won’t be enough to stop Gove. The success of last month’s strikes shows the potential to escalate the action and beat him.

As one teacher said, “It’s a hard decision to strike. But the long term gain of ­stopping Gove is worth it.”


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