Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Back to the Eighties, NUT style

Schools minister Jim Knight rightly condemns the ludicrous NUT teachers' strike on Thursday. Having got a pay award higher than the rest of the public sector - one that was welcomed by most teaching unions - the NUT (joined by the college lecturers' union) has decided to take the day off on Thursday to protest about the unfairness of it all. Back in the eighties, this sort of pointless strike was pretty common. But most unions - and certainly the other teaching unions - have moved on, recognising that teachers' pay has risen by a fifth in real terms in recent years, workload has been cut and classes have 100,000 extra assistants to improve adult:pupil ratios. NUT acting general secretary Christine Blower cynically maintains that the strike is a 'mark of respect' to the late Steve Sinnott: but while Sinnott backed the strike, he was working to bring the NUT out of its current irrelevance into the DCSF's social partnership. As the unions that make-up that partnership know, they have gained far more for teachers from within than manning the barricades outside. It is time the NUT joined them in the 21st century too.

1 comment:

oldandrew said...

Oh, where to start?

People like myself who voted to strike (75% of those who voted) didn't do so because we were militant revolutionaries. We didn't do so because we were on the breadline. We didn't do so on a whim.

We did so because of genuine discontent. Telling us we have less workload (as if), telling us we are doing well financially (I've lost count of the number of maths teachers I've know who are now accountants or working for banks), telling us we are gaining doesn't help. It just makes it even clearer that those with access to government are out of touch with what is happening in the classrooms. One daft initiative after another; hour after hour wasted with bureaucracy; blindness to the violence and abuse we face, and a pay system based on patronage are what we have been lumped with by the Government. And that's without mentioning the really disturbing thing: the way our students are short-changed by the dumbed down qualifications they are doing and the relentless pressure for teachers to ignore all but the target kids.

We are discontented and if you really think we have a lot to be thankful for, then I look forward to seeing you in the classroom.

And please bear in mind that I have no ideological axe to grind here. I'm a Labour Party member who always backed Blair on education until I entered the classroom.

If John Reid could admit the home office was not fit for purpose it's about time the same was acknowledged about an education system that on the whole, systematically fails to educate children to their potential. The alternative, of being surprised that the people who watch it happen every day are unhappy, is what we have come to expect.