TEACHERS’ STRIKE: Hassocks teachers unite against Gove

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A whole class of teachers from a school in Hassocks are on strike today.

31 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Downlands School have taken action to oppose the policies of the education Secretary, Michael Gove.

In a letter to parents, the teachers explain:

“We write to inform you that members of the NUT at Downlands school have decided to strike on Wednesday 26th March. The NUT is in a formal dispute with Michael Gove about his attacks on teachers’ pay, conditions, pensions and also because of the issues listed below.

“We wanted to let you know that we do not take a decision to strike lightly and we know that it has implications, on our children’s education and on the working arrangements of many of you on that day. Unfortunately we feel compelled to take action because of the damaging changes to our education system, We do hope that Downlands School Parents and members of our wider school community will support us in this action.

“The Coalition Government’s policies have damaged and continue to threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges and this of course includes Downlands school.”

The striking teachers go on to ask for parents’ help to persuade Michael Gove to change course, listing five key issues:

1 Ensure every classroom has a qualified teacher

Academies and free schools are now allowed to employ unqualified teachers. This is a big threat to standards of education.

2 Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed

There is a huge pupil place shortage but councils are not allowed to open new schools. Many councils are driven to putting portacabins on school playgrounds to cope. The Government only allows new “free” schools and these are often in the wrong place.

3 Make sure changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and planned

Rushed changes are stressful for children as well as their teachers. The Government should start listening to what teachers and education experts say. It should work with them to develop an exciting and inspiring curriculum that equips children for the modern world.

4 Ensure there are enough new teachers – stop picking fights with the ones we’ve got

Michael Gove keeps criticising teachers. Morale is plummeting. Five years after qualifying, 2 in every 5 teachers are no longer teaching. On top of that the current system of training teachers is under-recruiting. Instead of dealing with this, Michael Gove keeps attacking our teachers, who are forced to strike to defend themselves and education.

5 Get our schools working together, fund them properly

The evidence shows that schools working together is best for all children. Financial scandals at free schools showthe dangers of privatisation. On top of this fragmentation, school 6th forms and 6th form colleges are facing 20% cuts while £1.7 billion has been allocated to wasteful and unnecessary free schools. It is a national scandal that public ownership of the buildings and land of so many of our schools have been signed over to private individuals or consortiums.

The letter by the 31 NUT teaching staff members at Downlands School, Hassocks.