The Tories last week withdrew a plan to force every school in England to become an academy by 2022. It was a humiliating defeat and a victory for everyone who has fought—but campaigners are clear that the fight isn’t over.
And crucially the NUT union still plans to ballot for strikes over the impact of the government’s education policies later this month.
Kauser Jan is an NUT rep and assistant head teacher in Leeds. She told Socialist Worker, “This is a U-turn, but it’s not a complete one.
“Education secretary Nicky Morgan still wants all schools to become academies—that’s clearly her agenda.
“We basically have a business model being enforced on children.”
Morgan still hopes to push privatisation and cuts but in a less confrontational way. As she put it, “Better to have reforms than have none at all.”
“Our campaign must continue.”
The ballot will begin on 23 May and close on 22 June. The first strike is expected to take place in the first week of July.
Unfortunately the ballot will not include NUT members in sixth forms, as a number of colleges will be on holiday at the time of the strike. However the union has said it will ballot sixth form members in the autumn.
Teachers are continuing to hold big meetings across England to build the ballot.
Jon is a supply teacher and NUT activist in Essex. He said a meeting in Mid-Essex on Monday of this week was “the biggest I have known”.
He added, “It was really optimistic and positive. There was a sense of anger and that things can change.”
Some commentators said Morgan’s change of tack was due to opposition among Tories. But the crucial factor was the widespread anger among ordinary people.
Alex Kenny, a member of the NUT’s national executive committee (NEC), said, “It’s a victory for campaigning.”
Primary school teacher Jess Edwards is also on the NEC. “This U-turn shows our strength and that we can win,” she told Socialist Worker.
“But in Lambeth we face funding cuts of nearly 20 percent. We should keep fighting until we stop the Tories attacking education.”
Kauser Jan agreed. “There’s a lot of unrest about what they are doing to education.
“In Leeds 92 percent of local authority run schools are rated as good or outstanding—compared to 78 percent of academies.
“The ballot is important. We need to put children at the heart of education.”