On Tuesday 5 July 2016 NUT members from across the country took strike action to demand three things: An increase in funding for schools; a national contract that would apply to all teachers in state funded schools including academies; a commitment from the Secretary of State for education to address the issue of workload.
Strike action is never something we take lightly. We have felt ignored and belittled as teachers as more and more is demanded of us and we are trusted less and less. We are now in a situation where the chief inspector of Ofsted has a background in corporate finance rather than teaching.
Today teachers took to the streets to say enough is enough. Cuts to school budgets are pushing class sizes up experienced teachers out. The crushing amount of work that is expected from us is forcing huge numbers of teachers out of the profession while those that stay become exhausted and burnt-out. To add insult to injury, many teachers feel that the immense amount of work they are doing is not for the good of the children they teach but rather serves to perpetuate a Gradgrind curriculum of measurable outcomes in order that children, teachers and schools can be said to have passed or failed in a relentless onslaught of high stakes testing.
Our democratically controlled system of state funded comprehensive schools has been smashed up and sold off to the highest bidder. Teachers in academies have none of the securities or protection provided by the blue and burgundy books which outline our statutory rights. While teachers in academies lose their right to belong to a union, to get maternity pay, to have PPA time, the executive heads of these schools earn a six figure salary.
Teachers working conditions are our children’s learning conditions. Teachers know that with better funded schools, good terms and conditions and a manageable workload they could do a better job. Today we were not only striking for own situation, but crucially for the children in our classrooms and for the future of an education system in crisis.