The strike action across the midlands on October 1st was a tremendous success as was the follow up regional strike in the South East on October 17.
Teachers and their supporters attended marches and rallies across the region, from Birmingham to Leeds, with a huge rally of 1000 packed into the Old Market Square in Nottingham. Parents, school students and teachers made passionate speeches, whilst the crowd responded positively to every criticism of the Government and every call to step up the action to defend pensions, pay and our education service.
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But the campaign against the Government’s attacks on our pay, conditions and schools must continue. The NUT and NASUWT are seeking productive talks with the Government but if that fails there will be national strike action before February 13 2014.
We understand the situation in schools is becoming increasingly difficult. Ofsted is being used to undermine teacher morale and ensure compliance to a rigidly narrow view of education.
The recent Ofsted blitz on 8 Nottingham City schools shows that Ofsted is not interested in developing a dialogue with teachers to ensure our students get a rewarding education and the best life chances possible. Ofsted is more interested in ensuring that teachers simply toe the Government line. A demonstration has been called to protest about this in Nottingham on Saturday December 7. Click here for full details.
The latest PISA report is being used by the Government and the media to promote a further narrowing of the curriculum, one that mimics the cramming regimes of the far east in South Korea and China. The happiness and well being of children is no longer of any concern to the Government - they are only interest in the way schools deliver for a market economy. Whilst South Korea is top when it comes to test results it is ranked almost bottom when it comes to the happiness of it’s students, a much more telling statistic.
The BBC has also made great play of Finland slipping down the tables, despite remaining 7th, 5th in science and 6th overall. There is a clear agenda here. Finland has been a beacon of light for the values of comprehensive education, with very little testing. It hit the headlines recently for scrapping its inspection regime in order to free teachers to do the job they were trained as professionals to do.
You can also expect the Government to now use the PISA data to h home its attack on teachers, with more emphasis on command and control micro management systems where the voice of the classroom is ignored.
The teacher unions must defend the principles of comprehensive education in which the arts and sciences form part of a balanced curriculum and the interests of the whole child trumps the interests of business leaders. We have a long way to go as currently the Government appears to be winning many of the battles - not just on pay, but on the curriculum and who runs and controls schools. Free schools and academies point the way to a future in which students just cram for tests and teachers prepare them rote fashion whilst having their pay, conditions and trade union rights trashed.
There is a lot to do and not much time to do it!