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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Today’s teacher strike will see 53 schools across the borough close or partially close, and the Recorder has taken a look at both sides of the ongoing dispute between the unions and the government over pay, pensions and workloads.
The national walk-out comes as part of a campaign by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) against intiatives Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, will introduce, including performance related pay in September.
The teachers are against this and argue changes to their pensions will see them working until 68, paying in more and receiving less when they retire.
Regular meetings have taken place as union officials and the Department for Education look to come to an agreement, but as yet there has been no resolution.
Sam Gelder heard both arguments.
A 55-year-old secondary school teacher, who will strike, and who wishes to remain anonymous:
“I feel it [the strike] is an unfortunate necessity, as teachers haven’t been given any alternative and our concerns are not being taken seriously.
Performance related pay is a nightmare. It is not the individual teachers that help the children to receive their grades but the school community and it is outrageous that it is thought of any differently.
As well as that, the pensions are a disgrace. You can’t do this job at 68 - it’s draining. Your experience and ability to empthaise with children has gone by the time you reach 68.
And in a time of massive youth unemployment why make people work longer at the other end rather than let young people who are brimming with energy take over? It’s a stressful job - and has the third highest suicide rates of any profession.
I will see what happens when I hit 60.
I think the strikes are definitely working. As a result of the last strike teachers under 50 are £800 better off. This is a weak government and Gove is not getting his own way.
In a letter to union heads on Tuesday, Michael Gove outlined his reasons for performance related pay:
“The reforms to teachers’ pay are about ensuring schools have the processes in place to pay the best teachers more and we would expect schools to use the flexibilities resulting from these reforms to do that.
Regarding teachers’ complaints over their workload, he said he was happy to work with the unions over the coming months with the “key aim of reducing bureaucracy.”
Speaking about the strike, a Department for Education spokesman said:
“Parents will struggle to understand why the NUT is pressing ahead with strikes over the government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more.
They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.
Despite this constructive engagement with their concerns, the NUT is taking action that will disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”
The spokesman added less than a quarter of teachers voted in favour of this strike and a Populus poll last year found 61 per cent of people supported performance related pay. Seventy per cent either opposed strikes or believed teachers should not be allowed to strike.
A YouGov poll also showed teachers are receptive to change in the way they are evaluated and paid, with 89 per cent believing quality of teaching should be a major factor in pay and progression.
What are your thoughts on the strike? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views or call 020 8477 3810.
To see which schools will be affected, click the link on the right.