Socialist Worker

Teachers build for strike to defend education

Support is growing for action to beat cuts, academisation and other attacks, reports Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2505

David Cameron and education secretary Nicky Morgan visiting an academy

David Cameron and education secretary Nicky Morgan visiting an academy (Pic: Number 10)


The NUT union has begun a ballot for strikes to defend teachers’ terms and conditions. It comes as the Tories plan massive funding cuts and want to push more schools to become academies.

Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of the NUT. In a video to teachers he said the plans could see them lose maternity and paternity pay, or be forced to work more days.

Courtney added that cuts and deregulation can only mean “conditions will get worse”.

The Tories’ new funding formula will snatch away over 20 percent of school funding from some London boroughs. Some 18 local authorities face cuts of 10 percent or more.

The government claims its policies will help the most disadvantaged children. In fact it will make education worse—particularly for working class children.

Simon Murch is joint divisional secretary of Sheffield NUT and on the union’s national executive committee (NEC).

He told Socialist Worker, “Already some academy chains are seeking staff cuts and are advertising for unqualified teachers. And the government still intends that all schools will become academies.

“We want a guarantee that every teacher in an English state-funded school will be covered by national pay and conditions. And we demand that the government commit to proper funding for schools.”

Resistance

The attacks have sparked widespread resistance. Redbridge council in east London last week voted unanimously to oppose forced academisation. This follows a strong campaign by parents and teachers in the borough.

The mood has even spread to grammar schools. NUT members at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Kent voted overwhelmingly for strikes against academisation in an indicative ballot. Students there also protested earlier this month.

Young NUT members met in Coventry for a curry on Thursday of last week. They arranged ballot parties, where teachers get together and vote collectively, and recruited five new union reps.

Over 60 people came to a public meeting on defending education in Leeds on Wednesday of last week. All school unions were represented.

NUT and anti-academy activists organised a meeting of over 100 in Bristol last Saturday. A teacher from Chicago spoke via Skype about the fight to defend education in the city.

The Tories have already withdrawn a threat to force every English school to become an academy by 2022. They are still committed to academisation—but the shift shows they can be pushed back.

The NUT ballot ends on 22 June. England-wide school strikes would be a big blow to the government.

Simon said, “Every NUT member needs to make sure all their colleagues vote yes in the ballot.

“We need to strike this term and call escalating action in the autumn. Let’s press home our advantage while the Tories are weak and divided.”

 


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