Socialist Worker

Teachers race to get out the biggest possible strike vote

Tory cuts, tests and academisation threaten schools, but teachers are ready to fight, says Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2508

Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan

Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan (Pic: Number 10)


A ballot for England-wide strikes in the NUT teachers’ union is underway—and activists are fighting to win the biggest possible yes vote.

Teachers are fighting the impact of Tory education policies and funding cuts. Some London boroughs face over 20 percent cuts.

Although education secretary Nicky Morgan was forced back on a plan to force all schools to become academies by 2022, academisation is still the aim.

Sophie, a primary school teacher in Cambridge, told Socialist Worker, “A few people felt that Nicky Morgan has abandoned plans for forced academies. But she hasn’t—she’s just changed tack.”

Stefan Simms sits on the NUT’s national executive committee. He said, “Nicky Morgan didn’t make a U-turn—it was a swerve around the shires.

“She has explicitly said she will try and find a new way to make all schools academies by 2022.”

Morgan can force local authorities to academise all schools and forcibly academise schools deemed to be “failing” or “coasting”.

Suspicion

Sophie said, “They haven’t said what a pass mark is yet for this year’s Sats tests. The pass mark will be set once the tests have been marked. There is suspicion about this—a feeling that schools are being set up to fail.”

The Tories want academies, which are privately-run but state-funded, because they want to increase business influence. It has nothing to do with improving children’s education.

The testing regime is part of this agenda because it lets them deem schools to be “failing” and justify intervention.

The government is prepared to spend millions on legal fees and other bureaucracy just to get schools to convert. Sophie said it was “an outrage that all this money would be made available to put the schools we own into private hands”.

There is deep anger over the attacks, but activists can’t assume this will automatically lead to a strong vote.

Sophie said teachers are so overworked that the ballot can get “pushed out of the way”.

Stefan said, “I’ve been into 51 schools so far, and there are members who haven’t got around to voting yet.

“We must urge every NUT member to vote. There is still time—the ballot ends on 22 June.

“Activists must systematically go round schools with a list of NUT members and ask all of them if they have returned their ballot paper.

“Then we should contact nearby schools without union reps and ask to meet with members. Our ballot needs to send a strong message that members are willing to fight.”


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