Monday, 30 September 2013

Homework #3

We've had lots of people asking how they can show their support for the strikes tomorrow.

Here are some practical suggestions:

  1.  If you live in an area where strikes are taking place go and visit a picket line to show your support. We guarantee you it will mean an awful lot to those teachers. If you’re feeling really flush go mad and buy them a coffee, or make a donation to the strike fund. You will make their day! (please note they will still love you for turning up even if you don’t do that)
  2.  Tweet  messages of support to us using the hashtag #teacherROAR
  3. Even better still, send us a photo of you holding up a message of support – we all love a picture!
  4. Send an email to your local paper or TV station expressing support
  5. Tell friends and family that you’re supporting the teachers. Ask them to send a message of support too.

Why should you support the teachers' strike?

Tomorrow teachers in some regions of England will go on strike. This is the second in a series of proposed strikes by two teaching unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, who between them represent over 90% of serving teachers.

That they are striking together is significant. Historically the two unions have been rivals and relationships between them have often been fractious.

What has caused them to put their decades of differences aside and work together?

It can be summed up in one word: Gove.

This can’t be said often enough. Striking is a last resort. No one wants to go on strike. Teachers lose a day’s pay, and know that they will be accused of wanting the day off, of being lazy, of not caring about kids, or deliberately inconveniencing parents.  Striking is something you only do when you have explored all other avenues and found them blocked off.

But Gove has united teachers in a feeling that a stand has to be made and, since he won’t sit down and negotiate with the unions, we are taking strike action.

So what’s it all about.

Well, where do we start?

First of all Gove has announced that he wants teachers to work longer, pay more and get less for their pension than they agreed when they started the job.

So what, I hear you say. People are living longer, it’s a time of austerity and the country can’t afford to pay out for your “gold-plated” pensions. Them’s the breaks, right?

No. For a start our pension scheme has had £43 billion more paid into it than has ever been taken out. Let me repeat that. FORTY. THREE. BILLION. POUNDS. more has gone into our pension pot, paid for by serving teachers, than has ever been taken out by retired teachers. Our pension doesn’t need any input from the taxpayer to make it affordable for years to come, it’s fine as it is.

The increased pension contributions that Gove has demanded we pay combined with the pay freeze over the past few years means that, by April next year teachers will have had a 15% pay cut in real terms since 2010. That’s a FIFTEEN PERCENT paycut. We simply can’t sustain such an attack on our wages.

And teaching is a physical job. Carrying heavy boxes of books around a school, standing all day, crouching down next to desks to offer help, standing on desks to pin up displays, intervening in physical altercations – these are all a daily part of teachers lives. Keeping 30 children focused and on task for the best part of six hours a day takes enthusiasm and energy. It’s mentally and physically demanding and while most teachers say they will struggle to make it to 65, Gove is now insisting they go on until 68.  The cynical might say that, of course, he knows that’s simply impossible and means that many teachers will be forced to take early retirement, thereby losing many thousands of pounds from a pension that they have worked hard for for years, often decades.

Workload is another issue.  While Gove would like to maintain that teachers waltz in at 9, leave at 3, and sun themselves on beaches for six weeks in the summer the reality is very different.

Any teacher will tell you that a typical day starts nearer to seven, doesn’t finish until well after 6, that breaks during the day are non-existent and that weekends and holidays are taken up with marking and planning. And that’s for more experienced teachers. These days tales of newly qualified teachers being at school until nine or ten at night and then going in again on the weekend are not uncommon. Which is why there is such a high burnout rate in teaching.

And Gove wants us to do more. While most teachers need the holidays to keep on top of their workload, remind their family and friends what they look like, and physically and mentally recuperate, Gove says we should have shorter holidays and stay in school for longer so that we can have additional meetings and supervise after-school sessions.

But all of this, the pay cut, the stolen pension, the increased workload, he might have got away with all of this were it not for his devastating onslaught on education.

Amongst other things he’s

·         Removed the Educational Maintenance allowance that allowed poorer students to stay on into further education
·         Done nothing to reduce the trebling of tuition fees
·         Narrowed the curriculum into something one academic has called neo-Victorian
·         Removed the need for schools to employ qualified teachers
·         Stopped the schools modernisation programme and diverted the money into free schools often in places where there is no need
·         Destroyed university based initial teacher training so they we are now facing a significant shortage of teachers in key subjects
·         Created a schools places crisis
·         Refused to listen to the advice of the profession
·         Refused to implement policies based on evidence and research
·         Constantly denigrated teachers

Teachers have had enough. They’ve had enough of the attacks on their pay, on their pensions and their working conditions. But most of all they’ve had enough of the attacks on education.

It’s time to stand up for education. It’s time to stand up for teachers.

Please support the strikes.

Homework #2

Rationale: Last time there was a regional strike on 27 June, the broadcast media chose to largely ignore it, treating it as a regional news story, rather than as the start of historic joint action between the NUT and NASUWT.  This time the action is larger and the Tory Party conference is on which may make us more difficult to ignore. But today they ignored an NHS demo of 50,000 people and we want to be sure!

That’s why we’re asking you to bombard the main broadcast news outlets with emails telling them that you expect the strike to be covered, and that you want it covered in a fair and balanced way.  We’re starting this on Sunday night as it will be during the day on Monday that the news broadcast agendas for the next day are set and camera crews allocated.  

Here’s an example email:

Dear BBC News/ITV News, Sky News, Channel 4 News etc* *delete as appropriate

As you’re aware the largest teacher strike in decades will happen this Tuesday 1 October.

I’m writing to let you know that I expect you to cover the strike, and to do it in a fair and balanced way.  Here are some points I would like to see you make.

·         Teachers’ pensions are not “gold-plated”, they are fair and affordable. £46billion more has been paid in than has ever been paid out!

·         If private sector pensions aren’t as good then they need to be made better – please don’t pit private against public

·         Teachers have had a significant pay cut in real terms over the past few years – will be 15% by April 2014

·         Teachers are being asked to pay more, work longer and get less for their pension – we need you to report this

·         Teachers cannot physically work until 68

·         Working conditions for teachers have deteriorated under this government

·         The working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of children

·         The new pay structure being introduced by Michael Gove pits teachers against each other. This is not the way teachers want to work

·         Striking is a last resort. We don’t want children to miss a day of school or to inconvenience parents, but we are fighting for a better education system and Michael Gove has refused to negotiate leaving us no other choice

I look forward to seeing a fair and balanced coverage of Tuesday’s teacher strike on your news programme.

With thanks and best wishes,


Please feel free to copy the above email, tweak it, or write your own.

Here are the email addresses of the major broadcast news outlets. Please send your email to all of them if possible. Please also copy in





5.       BBC – annoyingly we can’t find an email address for the BBC. Please email them using the form at the bottom of this page

Homework #1

Are you all ready for your first homework assignment? You are? Good!

Tonight Gove will be on BBC Question Time. This is a great opportunity to use social media to get across our message. Strike action starts next week and there will undoubtedly be some negative media coverage. Here's a chance for us to take charge and get our voice heard.

The main way we will be doing this is by using Twitter and trying to create a Twitter storm. Don't worry if you don't have a Twitter account and don't want to open one. There are other ways for you to help get the message across and we'll talk about those in a bit. 

If you use Twitter then tonight (Thursday 26th September) we need you to be online when BBC Question Time starts at 2235. The minute the programme starts we need you to start tweeting. All messages should have two hashtags in them: #teacherROAR & #BBCQT

Each tweet should contain a brief message that will start either "I'm striking because..." or "I support teachers because..."e.g.

  • I'm striking because I want education policy to be based on evidence and research #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I'm striking because our children are over-tested and stressed #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I'm striking because I want our children to have a 21C education, not a Victorian one #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I'm striking because I want to work with my colleagues not be pitted against them #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I'm striking because I can't teach until I'm 68 #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I'm striking because Gove is destroying education #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I support teachers because I don't want kids told they're in bottom 10% #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I support teachers because I trust them. I don't trust Gove! #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I support teachers because they are professionals and Gove should listen to them  #teacherROAR #BBCQT
  • I support teacher because they know what's best for kids, not Gove #teacherROAR #BBCQT

You get the general idea right? Make up your own or use the examples above. It's worth preparing a few tweets and saving them as drafts on your phone or computer so you can whack them out one after the other. Retweets don't count. But this is an occasion where it's perfectly acceptable to cut and paste others' tweets without crediting them. It's the number of original tweets that counts towards creating a Twitter storm and getting the #teacherROAR trending.

Please alert others on Twitter who might want to join in.

How can you help if you don't have Twitter?

  1. If you have Facebook you can post your messages about why you're striking, or why you support the teachers on the BBC Question Time Facebook page here 
  2. Don't have a smartphone? You can still use your mobile to text Question Time. Details on how to are here

And remember this all starts DEAD ON 2235 tonight (26/9) when BBC Question Time starts. And we hammer the message home for an hour until Question Time finishes at 2335.

OK teachers and teachers allies, you have your instructions. Let's make that Teacher ROAR good and loud! Let's make the BBC Question Time venue SHAKE! Until tonight!