Teachers across England are planning a walkout. Teaching unions National Union of Teachers and NASUWT have come together to work on a joint campaign – ‘Protect Teachers and Defend Education’.
Education secretary Michael Gove has condemned the strike action
The dispute between the unions and secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, regards what the unions consider to be ‘adverse’ changes to teachers’ wages, pensions, working conditions and jobs.
General secretary of NUT Christine Blower said: ‘At the start of the new academic year, the last thing teachers wish to be doing is preparing for further industrial action. It is a great shame that the education secretary has let things get to this stage.
‘With pay pensions and working conditions being systematically attacked, and an education secretary who refuses to listen or negotiate, teachers now however have no other choice. Michael Gove has demoralised an entire profession, it is time that he started to listen for the sake of teachers, students and education.’
Two days of industrial action across regions in the UK have been planned for next month: 1 October will see teachers striking in boroughs from the east of England, east Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside. The second day of striking, due to take place on 17 October, will include the north-east, south-east, south-west and London. Another one-day strike across the whole of England is also planned to take place before Christmas.
A spokesperson for the department for education said: ‘It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government’s measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.’
Michael Gove said of news of the strikes: ‘I unhesitatingly condemn this action.’
A survey of teachers has found that there is ‘a crisis of morale in the profession’, according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
The YouGov survey, commissioned by NUT, was taken by over 800 teachers in December 2012. Over half of the participants described their morale as low or very low.
A similar survey had been conducted in April of last year and saw that over the eight-month period, those describing their morale as high or very high had dropped from 27% to 15%.
The survey also revealed that 77% of teachers described the government’s impact on education as ‘negative’. Over 70% said they had rarely or never been trusted by the government.
When questioned about the implementation of the Ebacc, more than 80% of those surveyed felt the consultation period had not been sufficient.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said of the survey’s findings: ‘This survey paints a very sorry picture and is a damning indictment of coalition government policies. Michael Gove has been allowed to rush through educational reforms and his academies and free schools projects based on little or no evidence.’
Over 3000 vocational qualifications have had their value cut by ministers, losing the exams recognition in the league tables. Currently some courses, such as nail technology and fish husbandry, can be equivalent to up to 4 GCSEs.
The government has accused some schools of using these kinds of vocational qualifications as a way to boost their ranking in the league tables. Education secretary, Michael Gove said: ‘For too long the system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere’.
After the cuts, schools will still be able to offer these qualifications but there will only be 120 courses that will be applicable to appear in the league tables. Vocational subjects that will still be included in the league tables are health and social care, sport, media, music and performing arts.
The past seven years has seen the number of students participating on vocational courses rise by a staggering half a million, according to statistics from the department for education.
General secretary of National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, said in response to the news: ‘It should not be up to the government to decide which exams are of more merit than others. This is something which should be assessed by major stakeholders such as the teaching profession and awarding bodies. Vocational education has often suffered from being viewed unfavourably. These reforms are likely to exacerbate the vocational/academic divide.’