Teacher Jenna Thompson prepares for the strike If you can read this article, thank a teacher and support the strike. Tweet support to #TeacherROAR Teachers in England and Wales – members of the National Union of Teachers – are striking today against th …

Teacher Jenna Thompson prepares for the strike

Teacher Jenna Thompson prepares for the strike

If you can read this article, thank a teacher and support the strike.

Tweet support to #TeacherROAR

Teachers in England and Wales – members of the National Union of Teachers – are striking today against the education “reforms” driven by the education secretary Michael Gove and the right wing, Tory-led government. The reforms are resulting in excessive workload and bureaucracy, performance-related pay and changes to their pensions.

The education secretary has made no attempt to address teachers’ concerns, and has failed to attend any talks with their representatives. The teachers’ union has been forced to deal with civil servants who have no mandate to deviate from official policy.

Teachers in Hull and East Riding stand up for education

Teachers in Hull and East Riding stand up for education

According to the NUT, this refusal to negotiate has made the strike unavoidable. This is becoming a familiar pattern in British industrial relations – London Underground staff were recently forced to take strike action just to bring Transport for London to the negotiating table.

The education reforms mean that young teachers will have to work till they are 68 or even 69 before they can draw their pension. Teachers’ pay has been frozen and a recent report showed primary teachers averaging 60 hours work a week.

Teachers’ Solidarity reports that

“although pay, pensions and workload are the triggers for the strike, the anger of teachers is about much more than that. In England the public education service is being broken up as schools are forced to become academies, free of local democratic control and often run in chains by businesses such as Harris carpets. Other schools are being opened with public money but run by private individuals or companies, based on the failed ‘free’ school model in Sweden. Such schools do not even have to employ qualified teachers.

A punishing inspection system in both England and Wales is causing soaring levels of stress, and suicide among teachers has risen by 80% in the last period according to the Office for National Statistics. Most of all, teachers feel that their professional autonomy has been taken away from them, as they are continually bullied into teaching according to a formula and producing mountains of data, instead of being free to use their creativity and knowledge of teaching and children to develop their work.”

NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said:

 “Teachers deeply regret the disruption caused by this strike action to parents and teachers. The government’s refusal, however, to engage to resolve the dispute means that we have no alternative other than to demonstrate the seriousness of our concerns.

“Teachers’ levels of workload are intolerable –the government’s own survey, published last month, shows that primary school teachers work nearly 60 hours a week and secondary school teachers work nearly 56 hours a week. 2 in 5 teachers are leaving the profession in the first 5 years of teaching as are many others.  This is bad for children and bad for education.

“Destroying the national pay framework means that in every school head teachers and governors have to worry about developing a pay system instead of focussing on teaching and learning.

“The government’s performance related pay is unnecessary and will build unfairness and additional bureaucracy. Further, international evidence shows that performance related paydoes not work for schools.

“Teachers do not believe that they can work to the age of 68 or even later for a full pension – and they don’t believe it is educationally desirable either. The NUT recognises that other workers are having their pensions squeezed. We believe that this is wrong too – everyone should be entitled to a decent standard of living in retirement.

“Michael Gove can resolve this situation by listening to our concerns and doing something about them. Our concerns are not just for teachers but for the future standard and provision of education”.

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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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