The 2016 NUT Conference was a mixture of genuine support for a sustained programme of strike action on terms and conditions, juxtaposed with a stifling lack of open debate.
There were, however, many positive outcomes. Firstly, the response to the government’s crippling White Paper (which would effectively open the way to total privatisation of education in this country) was the majority vote in favour of a ballot on strike action. If the ballot is successful, this will mean a one day national strike in July followed by more in the autumn term. This is clearly a welcome development, if substantially overdue. It would seem that the spirit of the Junior Doctors’ strike has at last communicated itself to our own leaders.
It’s also a shame that the same radical mood wasn’t reflected in other motions. The new primary tests have been universally reviled by teachers and educational experts alike; parents too have been vocal in their condemnation of these worthless assessments. Yet the motions aimed at organising a full boycott of testing were diminished and watered down into what appeared like holiday speechifying. This could have been an ideal opportunity to hammer the government from another angle, with the additional bonus of strong community support.
There are signs, nevertheless, that the majority of the Executive have finally caught up with the mood of the members. It will be up to local Divisions and Associations like Nottinghamshire to carry this through in practice.
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