Tories In ‘Head-On Collision’ With Classroom Teachers

Teachers marching in London last November 30 during their strike action to defend their pensions
Teachers marching in London last November 30 during their strike action to defend their pensions

Teachers have been ‘angered, alienated and attacked’ by coalition ministers who are determined to engage in a ‘head-on collision’ with the profession, delegates to the NASUWT Annual Conference in Birmingham were told yesterday.

In her Presidential Address to Conference, NASUWT president Paula Roe accused ministers of overseeing a ‘galloping’ programme of privatisation and warned that the NASUWT would not let the government diminish the status of teachers.

She pledged that the union would continue to engage in its highly-successful Standing Up For Standards industrial action, which was ‘powerful, necessary and effective’.

In her speech, Roe said: ‘Ministers here do nothing to respect the teaching profession. Instead they seem determined to engage in a head-on collision course with classroom teachers.

‘The hard-working successful teachers who daily teach lessons and raise standards are repeatedly ignored. Michael Gove has made this into an art form.

‘Now, rather than praising us, this government attacks us: freezing our pay, raising pension contributions and retirement age, proposing new punitive, negative performance management policies and more punitive observations, and making regular verbal assaults on us in the media.’

She added: ‘This government has tried to diminish the status of teachers. It is trying to create anger and resentment amongst the profession, trying to divide and rule by setting young teachers against old, private sector against public and state schools against other types of institutions.

‘But the NASUWT will not let it. We know what their agenda is and we will fight it.’

On the eve of conference, NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: ‘The depth of anger and frustration is evident in the motions balloted by members for debate.

‘In September, teachers will be in the second year of the pay freeze and will have had six months of increased pension contributions, reducing the salary of a new teacher by over £3,000 and an experienced teacher by over £5,500.

‘New punitive performance management and capability procedures will also be imposed.

‘The continuation of the obsessive pursuit of academisation just adds to the turmoil and completes the conditions for the perfect storm in the Autumn term.

‘In the light of this, it is inevitable that consideration of the escalation of our current industrial action will be high on the agenda.’

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers, whose annual conference begins in Torquay today, is planning to bring forward two priority motions – one on pay and another on pensions – that are likely to call for strike action in the autumn term.

The NUT is still opposed to the government’s attack on public sector pensions, which will see staff work for longer and pay more into their retirement funds.

It is also likely to attack chancellor Osborne’s Budget proposal to introduce regional public sector pay rates to drive economic growth.