British teachers oppose attacks on salaries, conditions, pensions and government pressure for academization of schools


Since the pandemic struck, UK teachers have faced accelerating government attacks on their salaries and conditions, increased commercialization of education and victimization.

The reopening of the economy by the Conservative government, backed by the Labor Party, relies on keeping schools open and has left more than 150,000 dead. Schools have been shown to be the main vectors for the spread of the virus, and both children and adults can catch the virus and become seriously ill.

Despite the deaths of hundreds of educators from Covid-19, union representatives (representatives) who raise health and safety concerns in schools face bullying, intimidation and disciplinary action.

Teachers from the North Huddersfield Trust School in Huddersfield stepped out on April 28-29 to support National Education Union (NEU) Representative Louise Lewis. Lewis was suspended in October for attempting to organize individual and school-wide risk assessments.

At Redbridge School in Liverpool, teachers voted indicatively for an outing in favor of their NEU representative. The representative was penalized for encouraging staff to use section 44 of the Health and Safety Act 1996 to work away from the safety of the home during lockdown.

NEU representative John Boken of the Shrewsbury Colleges Group has been fighting victimization since December for raising concerns with management over bullying, racism and discrimination. His colleagues stepped out on April 29 to support his fight to quash the serious misconduct charges and a final warning.

London teachers at Hackney’s Leaways School came out on April 28-29 to defend victim representative Ian Forsyth in a dispute that began late last year. Further strikes are scheduled for May 5, 6, 11, 12, 18 and 19.

Leaways is an independent special needs school run by the Kedleston Group, which provides children ages 7 to 17 with autism spectrum disorder and social, emotional and mental health needs. Forsyth was sacked after complaining to management about working conditions, including sick pay, which is currently only paid seven days a year. Staff are unhappy with the lack of resources for students.

The NEU did not even compile a list of these victimized members. He literally throws representatives at the wolves, leaving them to fight alone school by school. Like all unions, the NEU supports the reopening of schools and the economy, and health and safety concerns are not welcome.

A wave of conflict in education has erupted, despite all efforts by unions to suppress the opposition.

Members of the NEU at the Victoria Education Center in Poole went on strike for 10 days, including April 27-29, against changes to their contracts, affecting sickness and maternity benefits in violation of national pay and conditions for teachers. The special school is run by a charity, Livability.

About 50 teachers at 6th Marples and Cheadle College in Southport went on a two-day strike on April 28, following a previous 24-hour shutdown. NEU members are protesting a pay rise over the past two years.

Nine teachers from Greatfield Park Primary School in Cheltenham walked out last Tuesday. Two years after a bad report from Ofsted (school inspectors), a new boss has implemented changes to the detriment of staff welfare. Other stops are planned by the National Association of School Teachers, Union of Teachers (NASUWT) on May 6, 7, 11, 12 and 13.

Students in grades 10 and 11 stayed home for three days in April at St Peter’s Collegiate School in Wolverhampton after 40 teachers were shut down. The NASUWT said the strike concerned “unfavorable management practices, including workload, health and safety and lack of consultation.”

A growing number of disputes have arisen in opposition to the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies. Academicization of schools was first introduced under Blair’s Labor government. Halfway through the privatization of education, academies are state funded but privately run and exempt from national teacher pay and conditions agreements.

Addressing the Confederation of School Trusts annual conference, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said his ambition was to turn “… 50 percent of students who study in academies into 100 percent,” including schools with “a history of long-term underachievement, which have had three.” consecutive Needs improvement or worse judgments by Ofsted, in strong multi-academy trusts [MATs run by private companies or charities]”.

Underachievement is not the result of poor education, as Ofsted’s inspections indicate, but the product of decades of reduced education spending and entrenched socio-economic inequalities.

Teachers at Peacehaven Primary School in Sussex are planning a shutdown on May 5 in opposition to plans to turn their school into an academy. A survey of teachers indicated that two-thirds of them would leave or likely do so if the proposals materialized.

Staff at Moulsecoomb Primary School came out on April 28-29 after deciding to hand it over to the Pioneer Academy Trust. A protest march is planned at the school gates on May 15. According to the unions, the CEO of Pioneer Academy “Mason-Ellis pays himself between 145,000 and 150,000 pounds a year to run 11 schools …”

Educators, parents and students on the picket line at Moulsecoomb Elementary School on April 29 (credit: @SouthEastNEU)

Teachers at several private sector schools disagree over attacks on their pensions. NASUWT members from St Christopher School in Hertfordshire went out on April 15 for six days. Several teachers at Mount Kelly School in Tavistock, Devon, walked out on April 21 – threatened with “dismissal and rehire” if they do not accept a lower pension.

Strikes at a boarding school, Worksop College and Ranby House in Nottinghamshire, by NEU members were avoided in favor of discussions at the government’s Acas arbitration service. However, there was a strike at Stoneyhurst College, a boarding school in the Ribble Valley.

These schools are in addition to 114 schools that withdrew from the Teachers’ Pension Plan (TPS), after the government increased the employer’s contribution to the plan from 16.48% to 23.68% in September 2019. This increase also applies to public pensions. sector. The employee contribution amounts to 9.6%. The government is currently consulting independent schools on phasing out the TPS.

For employers at St Christopher’s School, for example, increasing their contributions would translate into an increase of £ 221,000 for 2019/20 – an additional cost that would eat into their bottom line. This is a school where the quarterly tuition fee for its crèche starts at £ 1,680. For primary schools, it rises to £ 3,993 per term for years 1 and 2; £ 4,995 for years 3, 4, 5 and 6. Secondary school tuition starts at £ 6,648. The secondary school weekly boarding fee is £ 9,015 and the full boarding fee is £ 11,515. St Christopher is not even at the top of the fee scale. Already in 2017, the average annual cost of private education was £ 14,102 for day schools and £ 32,259 for boarding schools.

The 2,600 “independent”, ie private, schools provide education to the most privileged children in society. They educate only 7% of all schoolchildren. This speaks volumes about the ruling class feeling that those charged with educating their sons and daughters, in institutions that should be abolished immediately, are not even deemed worthy of a decent pension.

None of the struggles led by educators can be won through education unions, which have proven bankrupt throughout the pandemic. Socialist Equality Party calls on workers to join the grassroots security committee of educators and build a truly democratic struggle organization to lead a united offensive against assaults on jobs, wages, conditions and pensions .

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