By Sadie Robinson
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National teachers’ strike demands a future for education

This article is over 7 years, 9 months old
Issue 2396
Teachers rally in Manchester
Teachers rally in Manchester (Pic: Andy Coles)

Teachers across England and Wales are out on strike today, Wednesday, in a battle against hated Tory education secretary Michael Gove.

The NUT union members are defending their pay, pensions and conditions.

But they are also making a stand for good quality education for all children.

Strikers held picket lines at many schools before joining protests and rallies.

Bridget Chapman, NUT rep at the London Nautical School in south London, told Socialist Worker, “Gove is going for a scorched earth approach to education. Unless we fight back now—and hard—he will do real damage to children.”

London Nautical School

London Nautical School (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Dereje Benyam has worked at the school for seven years. “Gove seems to see teachers as a target,” he told Socialist Worker.

“He has contempt for the profession. Some people say we have it easy, but I don’t find any teachers who work less than ten hours a day.

“The children appreciate what we do. The problem is the politicians.”

The strike will have a big impact—but it won’t be enough to force Gove back. As Bridget put it, “We need to escalate the action.

“I’m not prepared to look back in ten years’ time and say I didn’t do anything to stop these attacks.”

NUT rep Debs Gwynn said the picket line at Cowley International College in Merseyside got lots of support from passing motorists. Local authority bin collectors refused to cross picket line to empty the school bins.

Teachers from Hackney schools travelled together to the central London march.

Sandra from William Patten school told Socialist Worker, “If we don’t stand up and fight we will end up walking from the school to our grave. Would you want your child taught by a 68 year old?”

Francesca, another Hackney teacher, added, “We talked to parents and gave them leaflets and many of then said they now understood why we were striking, as all they usually get is from the news.”

They want people to know their strike is about the future of education. “What Gove wants is to privatise schools—that what the free schools are all about. They want to divide and rule,” said Nix.

All were agreed when asked what should be next. “Escalation!” they shouted in unison.

“We don’t want them to think they can just blow this off as a one off strike” said Francesca. 

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