Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hate Mail

OK people, we need you to roar like you’ve never roared before.


The Daily Mail has used its front page to attack teaching unions.

Some background:

The NUT representative for Haringey in London is a woman called Julie Davies. She has ruffled some feathers locally both by representing her members effectively, and by supporting the Save Downhills campaign, which caused Gove and his goons no end of grief.

Now two head teachers have said that they will no longer accept Julie Davies as the NUT representative in Haringey.

This is obviously completely unacceptable. The whole basis of teaching unions is democracy, and the NUT members in Haringey voted in Julie Davies as their representative. Heads cannot dictate who represents NUT members in Haringey, only the union members themselves can.

When strike action is taken locally, rather than at national level, it is usual for that action to be ‘sustained’, i.e. the union concerned will use funds set aside for the purpose to ensure that members aren’t disproportionately penalised financially - as they are taking action over and above national action.

The NUT in Haringey is not “paying teachers to strike,” they are using union funds, set aside for the purpose, to defend the rights of all members. It is a clear point of principle that heads cannot decide who represents union members. The very idea undermines all teaching unions and that’s why it’s absolutely necessary for NUT members in Haringey to take strike action – they do so on behalf of all of us!

Here at TeacherROAR we are a huge supporter of all the teaching unions. They are the last bastion against the likes of Gove and have had considerable success in slowing down his ‘reforms’. We cannot allow them to be undermined in this way.

The Daily Mail are using this dispute, and twisting the truth, to further their agenda to damage and weaken the teaching unions. We need to show them that we will not tolerate this.

So what can you do to show your disgust at the actions of the Daily Mail?

  1. Join in our Twitterstorm at 9pm tonight (12 November). Express your disgust for @DailyMailUK using the hashtag #HateMail 
  2. If you use Facebook post messages expressing your concerns on the Daily Mail page https://www.facebook.com/DailyMail
  3. Send email messages of support to admin@haringeyteachers.org.uk

Monday, 13 October 2014

Will 'superteachers' be just like 'superheads'?

David Cameron has written in today's Mail about his great new education policy - 'superteachers'!

He says:

A National Teaching Fellowship will pay the best of the best to work in failing or inadequate schools. I want to see 1,500 of these top teachers signed up and in post by 2020. That means two in every school; every child within reach of first class teaching.

Where to even start with this hugely insulting nonsense? 

The UK has the second best education system in Europe and the sixth best education system in the world according to a recent study. Every child already has access to first class teaching. It's a huge insult to the teaching profession to suggest that they don't.
The fact is that teachers are constantly being told that they are doing it wrong and other people know how to do it better. This is demoralising whether you are a classroom teacher, middle management, or a head. Being ‘offered support’ has come to have a whole new meaning in education circles. People wince when they hear it, knowing that it will usually entail not genuine support, but a constant stream of critique that is undermining and destructive.

And it’s not like we haven’t been here before. Before 'superteachers we had 'superheads'. We had superheads like Richard Gilliland (who employed his son and his daughter and resigned after government auditors uncovered a series of extraordinary purchases including hi-tech gadgets, antiques and sex games), like Jo Shuter (despite being given a CBE and a head teacher of the year award, she was investigated for fraud and struck off the teaching register after using school funds to pay for her own birthday party), and like Sir Alan Davies (knighted for services to education he narrowly avoided jail after pleading guilty to six charges of false accounting).

Do you see where we're going with this?

For the record we don't know any teachers - heads or otherwise - who don't want to get better at what they do. And mentoring and coaching done in a collegiate way can be extremely effective. Sharing and building on good practice is essential to developing and improving education (and incidentally is one of the many things which performance related pay could destroy). 

Superteachers? Thanks for the idea Dave, but it's about time you and other politicians told the truth. This country is already full of superteachers and they are fed up with being denigrated and insulted by you.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Major online action tomorrow night!

Here at TRHQ we've got wind of a major online action tomorrow night (Tuesday 30th). All we know right now is that it will happen between 9 and 10pm so make sure you've got internet access then. There will be a special hashtag which will be revealed nearer the time. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Harris: Leaving the 'Evil Empire'

An experienced teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, writes about their feelings on leaving the Harris Academy chain.

When I tell teachers where I’ve worked for the majority of the last decade, when I mention the name “Harris”, I often see a look in their eyes of haunted horror mixed with deep personal relief that it wasn’t them.  But finally, I’m going.  I have a new job in a great comprehensive and I can finally begin to put my professional life back together.  Sounds melodramatic?  They don’t call it “The Evil Empire” for nothing.

While not all of the academies in the chain are the same, there is a common theme that the Harris federation really struggle to hang on to the staff in their schools.  Average annual turnovers of between 25-40% of personnel are not unusual at some sites.  OFSTED have been known to spin this in their glowing inspection reports as being part of a 'relentless drive' to ensure the very best teachers work at Harris academies: the inference being that those driven out can’t cut the mustard. But that’s just not true.  We keep losing perky GTP youngsters, full of beans and inventiveness and a desire to succeed… burned out and gone.  On the other hand, in my mid-sized secondary academy there will only be seven teaching staff over the age of forty left from September, because valuable, experienced, ‘outstanding’ teachers have been driven away year-by-year through a constant compulsion to throw away the practices that work in favour of those that are flavour of the month.  Only one member of our SLT and one of our Middle Leaders have school-aged children of their own, doubtlessly because the 60-80 hour standard working week is simply incompatible with family life.  I have one friend at another Harris academy who returned to work part time after having children, but regularly has to put them into childcare on her ‘days off’ in order to keep on top of the workload.  Needless to say, she’s also looking for work elsewhere. Through one initiative and another the weekly contact hours with students grow higher and higher, and staff are no longer invited but expected to teach additional classes in the holidays.

You may be thinking “well, come on – long hours go with the job“ …and they do.  They always have.  There is much more to it than workload.  I'm sure you all remember when Sir Michael Wilshaw, the outgoing Chief Inspector of Schools, infamously said in 2011 "If anyone says to you that 'staff morale is at an all-time low' you know you are doing something right." A phrase so unethical, so vile that I hardly knew where to begin in my reaction to it. Well, it seems to me that leaders of the Harris federation may have taken that comment as a goal - an instruction that they should go out of their way to destroy morale, as the surefire way to achieve their objectives.  Because achieve them, they do.  Harris academies get great results in tough areas, and it can be hard to argue with that… until you look at other schools which also get those great results with similar kids, and you see that those schools can hold onto their staff.  I have occasionally been invited to the staff social events of other schools and what's remarkable is that no one is crying in the corner; or tearing out their hair; or endlessly, furiously trying to make sense of the head’s latest brainwave.  It’s a revelation.  Because there’s nothing wrong with the destination: maximise progress, never give up on the kids, pursue excellence in teaching… it’s great stuff.  It’s just the route Harris academies take that destroys dedicated, skilled, motivated teachers.  The philosophy of the federation is to pre-empt what they think the Department for Education / OFSTED might want, identify a way to deliver it that will produce lots and lots of evidence (at whatever cost to actual teaching time), and make that the ONLY permitted way to teach.  And at the same time, you must, at all costs (and you may have heard dark rumours about methodologies at some of our academies) deliver four levels of progress for every single student otherwise not only will your pay stagnate but if it isn’t Ebacc, your subject or course can disappear from the curriculum with no notice or consultation - in some cases triggering redundancies.  Three mini-OFSTEDs a year with 48 hours notice will keep anxiety levels high (and that’s at the academies where ‘Outstanding’ has already been secured – at our newer or more troubled sites the inspection regime is constant and aggressive).  There may be some happier Harrises, but the atmosphere at the ones I know is toxic.  There is a culture of presumed incompetence, and each observation or evidence gathering exercise is used as an opportunity to catch you out. And it's this culture, in combination with the workload, that’s simply unsustainable. I look around at the federation training events and see thousands of mostly young staff, (overwhelmingly slim, caucasian, dressed for sober commerce - there’s a definite Harris ‘look’) and above all the hubbub and din there’s an almost audible note of all these bright, resilient spirits being stretched to breaking-point.  For my own part: I’m a consistently outstanding teacher and I've lasted a lot longer than most... but that's partly because I have been made to feel, for many years, that despite my observations and great exam results no one else would ever want to employ me.  It made me so unhappy that a summons by the head for a ‘chat’ (never any indication of the subject matter, this is management-as-guerilla-warfare) would see me feeling sick to my stomach.  Worse, I know the poisonous culture has made colleagues at more than one Harris academy consider taking their own lives. 

A while ago, Gove (ahh, Gove… I like to imagine his strange, disappointed little face when he heard about the reshuffle) wrote about Lord Harris as a “hero” and his overpaid henchman / CEO Sir Dan Moynihan as “inspirational”.  Every current or ex-Harris teacher I saw respond to this described a feeling of nausea having read the article and for me it was a sickness borne of frustration.  How can they pretend this is a bowl of proverbial cherries?  How can they ignore how unhealthy it feels to work in this system?  How can they look at exam results and OFSTED judgments and pretend not to see how many teachers – talented, intelligent, professional teachers – are leaving the federation and will never, ever return?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

In a teaching union that's not striking? What should you do on a strike day?

You should NOT cover for striking colleagues. 

This undermines their democratic right to withdraw their labour. 

Please support colleagues on strike by following the official advice of the teaching unions.

NASUWT official advice

NASUWT members should:
make clear to the headteacher/principal that they will be reporting for work as normal;
make clear that they will not accept any variation to their contracted duties and/or undertake the timetabled or other responsibilities of those engaged in action, including taking into their timetabled lessons pupils from classes of teachers who are involved in strike.
That's taken from this page on the NASUWT site. 
ATL offical advice
ATL members should advise the head teacher that they are available to work normally, but they are not willing to accept arrangements which undermine the industrial action of colleagues. This is normally done via the rep.
ATL will normally consider it unreasonable for you to be asked:
  • to take over the work of colleagues engaged in industrial action, other than in exceptional circumstances (such as genuine emergency)
  • to undertake a teaching load greater than usual or to accept additional responsibilities or duties as a result of colleagues taking industrial action
  • to agree to the amalgamation of groups of pupils or students or to the division of one group between others as a result of colleagues taking industrial action.
That's taken from this page on the ATL site. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

On the Rise of Pearson (oh, and following the money)

This is reproduced from here: http://teacherblog.typepad.com/newteacher/2012/11/on-the-rise-of-pearson-oh-and-following-the-money.html

A long post that is worth a read here on the rise and influence of Pearson and corporate influence in education reform.  Take pause, friends.  Take pause but feel free to share and post comments here.  Thoughts?

The Pearson Monopoly Jennifer Job, UNC Chapel Hill
If you haven’t heard of Pearson, perhaps you have heard of one of the publishers they own, like Adobe, Scott Foresman, Penguin, Longman, Wharton, Harcourt, Puffin, Prentice Hall, or Allyn & Bacon (among others).  If you haven’t heard of Pearson, perhaps you have heard of one of their tests, like the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Stanford Achievement Test, the Millar Analogy Test, or the G.E.D. Or their data systems, like PowerSchool and SASI. [1]
 In a little over a decade, Pearson has practically taken over education as we know it.  Currently, it is the largest educational assessment company in the U.S. Twenty-five states use them as their only source of large-scale testing, and they give and mark over a billion multiple choice
tests every year.[2]  They are one of the largest suppliers of textbooks, especially as they look to acquire Random House this year.  Their British imprint EdExcel is the largest examination board in the UK to be held in non-government hands.[3]
Pearson has realized that education is big business. Last year, they did 2.6 billion pounds of business, with a profit of 500 million pounds (close to a billion dollars).[4]  And business is looking up, which I will return to in a minute.  First, I want to talk about the vicious cycle that Pearson drives through education.  
Pearson’s first big jump was acquiring Harcourt’s testing arm in 2008, taking Harcourt’s 40% market share and parlaying it into controlling more than half of all assessments taking place that year.[5]  At this point, Pearson began to coordinate all of the textbook imprints it owns (as one of the three biggest textbook publishers in the U.S.) with its tests, completing its own equation of
curriculum and assessment.  It was just a matter of locking down their territory and growing it. 
To grow into the multibillion-dollar corporation they are today, Pearson blurs every line among for profit, nonprofit, and government systems.  They have prominently partnered with University of Phoenix, whose parent company’s CEO also sits on the board of Teach for America.  They acquired
America’s Choice, which partners with the Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations.  The Chief Education Advisor for Pearson is Sir Michael Barber, a lobbyist who pushes for free-market
reforms to education.  And the list of executives and partnerships goes on.[6]
What are some of the benefits of these partnerships? Pearson’s advocates for education reform were instrumental in the development of the Race to the Top initiative, from which they have benefitted
in numerous ways.  For example, Race to the Top requires significant data accumulation, and thus Pearson partnered with the Gates Foundation to be the ones to store the data.[7]  Pearson also is a key partner of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State Schools Officers.  When the plan for the Common Core Standards was hatched, Pearson paid to fly the policymakers to Singapore for luxurious “education” trips to promote the educational methods they promote. [8]
As a result of their work with the NGA, the Common Core Standards and Race to the Top assessment requirements for those standards work heavily in Pearson’s favor.  It doesn’t matter that Stephen
Krashen found that 53% of educators oppose the Common Core—nearly every state has adopted it anyway, and they encourage a 20-fold increase in the number of tests given every age from preschool to grade 12. [9] Tests that will be administered by Pearson.
And despite the emphasis of Race To the Top and Common Core on state-led education initiatives,
in reality, Pearson does not produce different texts and tests for different states.  As Texas is one of its oldest and largest customers, and many of the states that are adopting Pearson materials are “red states,” they make sure that the materials they provide will pass muster with those particular school boards.  Then they recycle the same material for other states. [10] This tilts curriculum in obviously ways, with US History coverage leaning decidedly right wing, but also in less obvious ways.  Light was shed on these changes with a recent Pearson reading comprehension test administered to eighth graders.  This was the first such test for several states that had recently adopted Pearson’s materials, including New York, which was previously known for its rigorous reading comprehension topic.  This year, the passage was a story called “The Pineapple and the Hare,” which was an adaptation of another story that went so awry the original author disavowed the new version.  Students complained that the story was childish and that it was confusing what the test makers were trying to convey
by using it.  Parents in other states lodged the same complaints.  But New York state doesn’t seem to care—not only will Pearson continue to provide a large portion of New York’s tests, but they are contracted to run New York’s teacher licensure process beginning in 2014.[11]
How Pearson got into New York’s teacher licensure program can probably be attributed to another one of its higher-powered partners—Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College.  Not only is Fuhrman the head of one of the most prestigious teacher education schools in America, but she now
holds the title of “Non-Executive Independent Director of Pearson PLC” and has received almost one million dollars in stock and fees to date.[12]  So it is really not surprising that Pearson has its foot in the door to make decisions about who will hold NY Teaching Licenses.
Stanford was responsible for designing the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment), but they did so with, quote, considerable seed money from Pearson from the beginning of the project.  The edTPA
relies on evaluation of two ten-minute videos of the candidate’s teaching and the responses to a written examination. Supposedly, the scorers are retired teachers who receive $75 per evaluation (although, many of us applied to Pearson to be scorers, and not one person from UNC was chosen to my knowledge). And to prove validity of the edTPA, the Education Development Center, a non-profit in Waltham, Mass, performed a field test across five states.  The Education Development Center is funded by Pearson.[13] 
The insidiousness of Pearson’s tentacles’ reaching across education would be enough to set off alarms in the community.  Huge corporations and conglomerates own stock in Pearson, including the Libyan
Investment Authority, owned by Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam, who owns 3% of the company.  The Koch brothers have connection to Pearson, as does Teach For America.  And the more Pearson acts, the fewer choices we have over education in our towns and cities. Pearson just bought a large online charter school consortium that opened across America, and they now own the G.E.D. for students who drop out altogether.[14]  And when a company called Boundless Learning tried to offer free and alternative textbooks to create a choice for students, Pearson partnered with Cengage and MacMillan to not only sue the company out of existence, but also the venture capitalists that funded it.[15]
States are beginning to rely on Pearson not only for materials, but also for the actual data that drives them to make crucial decisions in student learning and teacher retention.  There is an assumed validity to these materials that is never proven and now, never challenged.  Ironically, the free-market argument has paved the way for a system with no competition.  Scores from Pearson tests are used in value-added measurements.  Scores from the edTPA are used in hiring and firing decisions.[16]  As Rob Lytle, an education consultant, said,“If new standards are as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad…they’ll want help, quick.  And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software, and student assessments will be right there
to provide it.”[17] It is no longer a piece of the puzzle we can afford to ignore.

[2] Ibid.

[6] www.unitedoptout.com/boycott-pearson-now
[7] dianeravitch.net/2012/05/07/the-united-states-of-pearson-2/

[9] blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/04/Stephen_krashen_testing_and_te.html

[14] Ibid.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Why I Am Striking

A guest post by @MrDuttonPeabody

Hitting the streets
A little over two years ago in November 2011, my second year as a Primary School teacher, I went on strike for the first time. Back then, I wrote a short blog about it. And looking back at it, I didn't realise how much could change in such a short space of time or how damaging it could be to teaching as a profession and education in the UK. From the rapid Academisation of schools in the UK, to the demographically ignorant spread of Free Schools, unqualified teachers, a curriculum that’s been roundly criticised by those who were consulted on its creation, OFSTED first being used as tool for failing schools and then coming under attack itself, performance related pay breaking the national pay spine, assessments for four year olds, statutory Year 1 phonics assessments that are nothing to do with reading, 60 hour workloads, PISA panic, not to mention Marxist Enemies of Promise and the mythical terror of ‘The Blob’.
Not to mention Gove's come to bed eyes.
Not to mention Gove's come to bed eyes.
Teaching and education hasn't undergone a revolution in the UK, regardless of what Gove says. It’s taken a battering, a kicking from which it’s touch and go whether it will recover at all. And it’s all clinically intentional. Take Gove’s recommendations to the STRB, which were dismissed summarily in February, regarding extending the school year, removing limits on hours teachers work in a year and removing the guarantee of 10% of the week for planning, preparation and assessment time. All of these would have made the job more difficult for teachers, while doing almost nothing for children. An already overloaded teacher, given less preparation time and more hours to need to prepare for, is not going to deliver improvements.
I know statue, I know.
I know statue, I know.
I’m striking on Wednesday, March 26th because there is literally no other recourse to action to indicate just how desperate the situation is for the concept of an equal, universal education in this country. With the September 2014 abolition of National Curriculum Levels, each school will become a lonely outpost working on its own way of assessing children. In effect, the guaranteed equality of the national expected progress for each year group will vanish, which will lead to a patchwork of ideas which may bear little resemblance to the school a half mile away. Education is  becoming a centralised set of rigid exam barriers for children to overcome, while simultaneously the state provision of education is being dissolved.
Wait. What?
But I’m also striking for my profession. Because teaching is a profession which ensures more future profit for everybody than any private company. In Primary, we are giving children the tools they need to be able to explore and wonder at their world, developing passions in science, maths, sport, art, technology. The five and six year olds in my classroom are more important than HS2 or a third runway at Heathrow. And they deserve qualified, experienced teachers, or enthusiastic newly qualified teachers.
Because they need to be qualified, aware not only of classroom practice but steeped in effective pedagogy. They need to be taught about teaching before they learn how to teach. And they must be given time to develop as teachers. The forced grow tank of SchoolsDirect does little more than teach them how to act like teachers, without developing the depth of knowledge to become effective practitioners. The 40% drop out rate says far more about the strain of the profession than any weakness of the individual.
Sleepless nights as standard.
Sleepless nights as standard.
Nobody gets into teaching because it is easy. And when teachers complain of increased workload, they realise that despite working until midnight and weekends, there will come a point where the quality of education delivered in the classroom will suffer as a result of the administrative constraints of Gove’s ‘reforms’. My colleagues and I have a shared guilt, that on weekends and evenings and half terms we should be using the time remaining after we have finished our marking and assessing and planning to do that little bit more, just a few hours. And that is after our 60 hour week, an equivalent to working 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
On Wednesday 26th March I will be called outmoded, dangerous, irresponsible and lazy for taking action based on the concerns I have expressed above, which form only part of my overall reasons for striking. On Thursday 27th March I will return to ensuring that I provide my pupils with the highest quality of education that my qualifications and experience allow me to. And I will do so in spite of Michael Gove, not because of him.
Broken window, Strabane, January 2010
Analogy time.
If UK education was a window, then every single Education Secretary in history has complained that it is dirty. And they have all attempted to clean it, through one method or another. National Curriculum ‘89 and ‘99, National Strategies, Literacy and Numeracy Hours, Synthetic Phonics, Creative Curriculum. Gove is the first to smash the window, pay people to take away the shards without knowing if they even know how to clean and then has the audacity to tell us he’s the greatest window cleaner in history.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

STEM 6 free school renege on commitment to recognise teachers’ union. Strike action back on this week.

Following a meeting last night where STEM 6 Principal, John O’Shea reneged on written commitments to recognise the NUT – to which most teachers at the newly opened free school belong – and to enter in to “meaningful negotiations” about staff terms and conditions, strike action previously called for tomorrow and Thursday this week is to go ahead.
Last Wednesday, the day before teachers were to begin strike action in support of union recognition, John O’Shea wrote to the NUT:
Just to confirm that we are willing to recognise the NUT and a commitment to enter into meaningful negotiations about the terms and conditions about the contract and to install a local and national representative within the Academy.
We would be willing to sign a formal recognition agreement
Please let me know some dates/times when you are free so we could meet next week
John O’Shea
STEM Academy Tech City
After receiving this firm written commitment, the NUT and its members at STEM 6 suspended last Thursday’s action to allow the agreed negotiations to take place.
We were hopeful, especially after Tony Sewell, Chair of STEM 6 governors, had apologised to teachers on Thursday for failing to listen to their concerns and removing some of the most objectionable  terms in the contracts they had been forced to sign under duress – such as a zero hours clause – that a line could be drawn under STEM 6’s previously dismissive and intimidating attitude to its teachers and that, once a recognition agreement had been signed, constructive negotiations could begin that would bring the terms and conditions in to line with those enjoyed by teachers in maintained schools.
So we were shocked yesterday afternoon first to receive a message from John O’Shea that he had decided to “postpone” the meeting which had been agreed for 5pm last night because “The NUT has not sought recognition rights with the CAC [Central Arbitration] so I cannot negotiate with you”.
This blatant demonstration of bad faith was either completely disingenuous, badly informed – or both. The NUT has never sought “statutory recognition,” both because we think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary (recognition which has to be enforced by law is unlikely to be genuine) and, as John O’Shea had previously stressed to us in writing before his commitments last week, as a pretext for refusing to recognise us at all, statutory recognition can only apply to 21 or more employees, a stipulation which the NUT is, of course, fully aware.
John O’Shea’s game-playing last night has made it even more difficult to resolve this dispute –and the real losers are going to be the STEM 6 students, many of who have made it manifestly clear that they support their teachers’ right to have their trade union recognised and to be treated in a civilised way.
The strike action (two days this week, to be followed by another three days next week) will now go ahead because STEM 6 teachers have lost all trust in their Principal and governors to keep their promises.
This morning we learned that John O’Shea has told his staff that the school will be closed tomorrow “because of the tube strike”.
Ken Muller, Assistant Secretary of Islington NUT commented:
This game playing must stop if we are going to return to where we were after STEM 6 agreed last week to recognise the NUT and enter in to meaningful negotiations with us about teachers’ terms and conditions.
Closing STEM 6 “because of the tube strike” is yet another act of dishonesty aimed at denying the demonstrably obvious reality that teachers at the school are angry at the disgraceful way in which they are being treated and are prepared to take the action necessary to rectify the situation.
Other schools in Islington, such as the Islington Sixth Form College just up the road from STEM 6, are open, despite the strike.
The sooner John O’Shea and the STEM 6 governors honour their promises, respect their teachers and sign a standard TUC drafted union recognition agreement the sooner we can enter in to constructive negotiations about staff terms and conditions of employment and the sooner the school can focus on what it is meant to be doing: providing students with  the high quality of education to which they are entitled.
Unfortunately, because they have not been able to do this, teachers at STEM 6 will be striking tomorrow and Thursday and picketing from 7.30 am onwards.
 For further information, call Ken Muller on 07950075088

Monday, 3 February 2014

Briefing: National Autistic Society Schools on Strike

There are 5 N.A.S. schools currently taking industrial action due to the attempted imposition of new contracts. All 5 schools have so far taken 6 days of strike action. The N.A.S. recently cancelled a planned meeting with the NUT & NASUWT about the new imposed contracts at very short notice. Teachers have been repeatedly threatened with dismissal if they do not sign. The N.A.S. refuse to recognise trade unions.

The N.A.S. claim they do not have any money and yet their Trustee’s Annual Report for March 2013 reports reserves of £27.9 million and an ongoing operating surplus of over £1 million.

Teachers rarely strike in special schools due to their special commitment to the students. These teachers risk, on a daily basis, being spat, pinched, punched and worse due to the challenging and complex needs of the students. The teachers are highly skilled and dedicated.

The N.A.S. want to:

  • Reduce paid holiday leave by 5 days.
  • Reduce industrial injury from 200 to 66 working days – remember these teachers are far more often injured at work.
  • New contracts that allow management to further worsen their pay & conditions by simply giving 30 days’ notice. 
Teachers in N.A.S. schools already have worse pay and conditions compared to maintained schools.

The N.A.S. have tried to bully, lie and emotional blackmail members into not striking. They put their profits before the students and teachers alike. Parents support the teachers.

If these dispute is lost teachers and support staff alike will simply and with regret leave. The students will take 9 to 12 months readjusting to new less qualified staff. The students will suffer badly.

If the N.A.S. still refuse to negotiate with the NUT & NASUWT more strikes are planned.

This briefing is reproduced with permission of Ealing NUT