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Issue #1626      February 12, 2014

Teachers strike back

BRITAIN: Michael Gove’s most troubled week as Education Secretary got worse when teachers called a first national strike against his ideological assault on their profession.

More than 320,000 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will swap classrooms for picket lines in England and Wales on March 26 – and other unions could yet join in.

The action is in response to Mr Gove’s plans to let individual head teachers decide pay, heap more work on teachers but keep them in the classroom until 68 and rip up the national curriculum. NUT leader Christine Blower said: “Michael Gove’s persistent refusals to address our ongoing dispute over pay, pensions and conditions of service is unnecessary and deeply damaging.

“As a result thousands of good, experienced teachers are leaving or considering leaving the job and a teacher shortage crisis is looming with two in five teachers leaving the profession in their first five years.”

Welsh teachers’ union UCAC said it will take action for the first time, demanding that pay powers be devolved to the country’s government. The strike piles more misery and pressure on Mr Gove, who is fighting a civil war within his own Department for Education after sacking Labour peer Sally Morgan as Ofsted chairwoman.

And he was left isolated by his barmy call to tear down the “Berlin Wall” between state and private schools by making kids learn classics and run laps around the field as punishment.

Even England rugby veteran Brian Moore took to Twitter to maul his rhetoric, writing: “Cut school sports funds and make them equate exercise with punishment – brilliant.”

The rebellion may swell when teaching union NASUWT decides whether to join the latest walkout.

Leader Chris Keates said that Mr Gove “must understand that the teaching profession is on the verge of a crisis. The relentless attack on every aspect of teachers’ working lives is taking its toll.”

A government statement said Mr Gove had agreed to union calls for fresh talks in a bid to avoid the strike.

Morning Star

Next article – Pipeline and jobs controversy

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