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Why Teachers Are Striking Today

Posted: 17/10/2013 00:00

The NASUWT and NUT, representing nine out of ten teachers, are today taking strike action across four regions of England.

This action follows two previous waves of rolling strikes which took place at the end of June and on 1 October.

The strike action has received overwhelming support from teachers demonstrating their deep anger and frustration at the failure of the Coalition government to take seriously their concerns about the impact of the relentless assault which has been waged on their pay, pensions, conditions of service and jobs for the last three years.

The national pay and conditions framework which the secretary of state is seeking to destroy has been instrumental in securing our public education service a place in the top six highest performing countries in education in the world and the second highest performing in Europe.

Attacks on teachers are attacks on children and young people, which is why teachers taking the action have received a high level of support from parents. Parents have recognised that teachers' working conditions are inextricably linked to the provision of high standards of education.

A country-wide survey conducted by right-wing polling organisation Populus immediately after the first day of strike action in the North West on 27 June found a higher level of public support for teachers taking strike action.

The support of parents and the public has been further in evidence at the Rallies for Education the NASUWT and NUT have held across England and Wales over the last six months. The rallies saw thousands of parents, ordinary families and members of the public join teachers in packed-out venues to share their fears and concerns about the future of our public education service.

At the rallies parents, governors and headteachers all spoke movingly about their experiences. Articulate and thoughtful young people, who are a credit to our public education system, described how they believed their life chances and choices were being adversely affected.

So, whilst there are understandably concerns about teachers taking strike action, there is shared anger and frustration.

But these strikes could have been avoided if the secretary of state had been prepared to engage constructively in discussions to seek to resolve the trade dispute. Instead he recklessly and arrogantly dismisses the fact that the teaching profession is in crisis and hops from one public platform to another, preferring megaphone diplomacy to genuine discussions.

As a result of the secretary of state's actions, NASUWT research suggests that over half of teachers are seriously considering quitting the profession altogether, 98% of teachers do not believe that the government's policies will raise standards of education, recruitment levels are declining and resignations are increasing.

Children and young people are losing their entitlement to be taught by those who are recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and who have working conditions that enable them to focus on teaching and learning.

The secretary of state's removal of the requirement for schools to employ only those with qualified teacher status has resulted not only in children losing their entitlement to be taught by a qualified teacher, but has seen teaching jobs lost as cheaper, unqualified staff are appointed by schools. Jobs of specialist teachers are also being lost as a result of budget cuts and curriculum changes.

Teachers are committed and dedicated public service workers. They do not take strike action lightly. No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils' education, but this action is not the failure or due to the unreasonableness of teachers. It is the failure and unreasonableness of the secretary of state, who day-in-day-out is disrupting the education of children and young people through his attacks on the teaching profession.

Teachers are not prepared to stand by and allow this to happen. By taking action they are standing up for standards.

 

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