By Sadie Robinson
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2497

NUT teachers’ union conference debates workload and sixth forms

This article is over 7 years, 11 months old
Issue 2497
Sixth form teachers struck solidly on 15 March
Sixth form teachers struck solidly on 15 March (Pic: Guy Smallman)

As well as the vote for action over academies, NUT delegates denounced teachers’ workload as “intolerable and getting worse”. Conference passed a motion calling on the union to give “full support, up to and including sustained strike action” to schools that fight locally over workload.

It instructed the executive to organise a national protest and “build a campaign to persuade members that national strike action will be necessary” to win change.

Ken Muller from Islington said, “If we fight we can win. But we can only achieve so much school by school. If we are going to defeat education secretary Nicky Morgan’s attacks we are going to require national action, and soon.”

Conference passed an amendment instructing the executive to “continue to build an ever increasing national campaign” over workload.

Laura Fisher from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, took on those who say they came into education to teach, not strike.

She said, “Every day I strike I’m teaching my children the most important lesson of all – their education is worth fighting for.”

A motion calling on the union to campaign to support supply teachers employed on lower pay by private firms was passed unanimously. Another denounced the “endemic culture of bullying” in schools.

Delegates agreed that “chaotic” government policies have created a “teacher shortage crisis” and damaging education. They also supported continuing talks between the NUT and other teaching unions about uniting together.

Delegates unanimously passed a motion calling on the union to make improving conditions for supply teachers a “key campaign”. Dave Gilchrist said supply teachers are a “hidden layer of privatised teachers in education”.

Conference passed a motion calling on the union to show solidarity with all LGBT+ people suffering discrimination. This should apply to those who “don’t fit within the remit of education, teachers, trade unions or children”.

An amendment moved by the executive to delete this demand was lost.

Delegates also backed a motion on reform of the union’s structures to ensure that its executive better represents its membership and is more democratic.

Delegates unanimously backed a motion paving the way for more strikes in Sixth Form Colleges.

The motion called on the executive to “consult meaningfully with members in Sixth Form Colleges about further national action, up to and including more strikes”.

NUT members in Sixth Form Colleges struck on 15 March against the impact of Tory funding cuts.

Jean Evanson from Shropshire said if the union failed to stop funding cuts “we will lose a precious component of our education system”.

She said the government’s area reviews, which aim to close or merge sixth form colleges and further education colleges, were “merely exercises in cost-cutting”.

“Our strike on 15 March was the first of this campaign,” she said. “Unless the government stops it’s attack on post-16 education it can’t be the last.”

Adrian Wilson from Nottingham said strikers won support during their walkout. “We were met with overwhelming gratitude for supporting something that mattered,” he said.

Duncan Blackie from Sheffield warned the attacks meant “wholesale academisation of the sector”. Rob Ferguson from Newham, east London, said the union should “call us out together – sixth forms, schools, all of us.”

Over 50 teachers attended a sixth form colleges’ fringe meeting on Monday of this week. The meeting unanimously voted that the union should ballot members in sixth forms as part of its ballot over the government’s white paper.

Philippe Harari from Cambridgeshire told Socialist Worker, “We need more action. We were at the forefront of fighting attacks, but now they affect more than just us.

“It would be better to be out with school teachers.”

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