CIVIL servants’ union PCS yesterday joined the National Union of Teachers in raising serious concerns about the politicisation of education.
Commenting on concerns raised by the National Union of Teachers (see Page 3) about potential conflicts of interest among education advisers, PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘The results of the NUT’s research are extremely troubling and the Department for Education (DfE) needs to move swiftly to allay fears that there are any conflicts of interest in these contracts.
‘We share the NUT’s serious concerns about a steady deterioration of the public service ethos in the senior ranks of this department and a politicisation of important work that affects the education of all our children.
‘Education secretary Michael Gove appears to have been given free rein to use his department to undermine and bypass the impartiality of civil servants to enact a dangerous political project.’
In November the DfE announced plans to close more of its offices and cut a further 1,000 jobs, and the department confirmed plans to use a performance management policy that it acknowledges is discriminatory to ‘speedily weed out’ those who it deems are ‘under-performing’.
Meanwhile, members of the NASUWT teachers’ union were on their second day of strike action yesterday at Dunston Primary School, Chesterfield.
The NASUWT said in a statement: ‘Following a lawful national ballot, teachers at the school, like the overwhelming majority of teachers right across the country, in furtherance of a trade dispute with the Secretary of State, have been taking action short of strike action over pay, pensions, conditions of service and job losses.
‘The dedicated teachers at Dunston Primary School have continued to prepare for and teach their lessons, mark and assess pupils’ work and carry out all those tasks which, in their professional judgment, assist them in focusing on teaching and learning.
‘Not one pupil has had their education disrupted by this action, which has been in place since December 2011.
‘However, punitive and aggressive actions by the school’s management have resulted in the teachers being left with no alternative but to take strike action.’
Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: ‘The teachers at Dunston have engaged in action which is designed to be pupil, parent and public friendly. Any disruption is entirely the responsibility of the school management.
‘The NASUWT offered to withdraw the strike action if the school was engaged in constructive dialogue and suspend its punitive action against the teachers, but they have failed to respond.’
Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT National Executive Member for Derbyshire said: ‘The school has claimed repeatedly that the staff and pupils are failing and the teachers at Dunston Primary School are poor or inadequate. This is not the case as the most recent Ofsted inspection confirmed.
‘These false claims have been used to introduce working practices which, far from supporting teaching and learning, distract from it.’