Why I Am Going On Strike

On 26th March, for the third time in three years, I will be taking strike action against the current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. I genuinely don’t want my pupils to miss a day of their education of which they are entitled, nor do I want to disrupt the lives of countless families up and down the country. I don’t want to inconvenience colleagues who are so close to retirement that it could affect their pension and I can barely afford to lose a day’s pay myself. Why then, am I choosing to go on strike?

Three years ago I entered the teaching profession with a naive enthusiasm. This vivacity has since been crushed out of me by a system that cares more about statistics than students. The almost daily attacks on the profession in the media and the climate of fear that most teachers work in is enough to break the hardest of Newly Qualified Teachers. The negative structure of lesson observations and accountability sucks the life out of the vast majority of educators, and so it comes as no surprise to anybody in schools that 40-50% of teachers walk away from the profession within five years. And yet, those that remain are a steely bunch. We take the flack, disrespect and disregard that a small portion of this society would see fit to throw at us, and we focus on what we do best. We plan to engage and develop your children; we seek to help them overcome whatever barriers to learning they may encounter; we prepare them for life. In return, we don’t ask for a great deal. The vast majority of us aren’t motivated by power or money. All we want is a little respect, trust and for attacks on us to stop.

Pensions

The main concern to me is the change in relation to pensions. I entered the profession as the economy began to die on its feet. Austerity measures were introduced and teacher’s pay was frozen so that it didn’t rise with the annual rate of inflation. Pension contributions were then increased (as a result, teachers have actually seen a pay cut over the last few years). Now the government want me to work until I am 68… sixty-eight. I am currently in my mid twenties and I am exhausted. In reality the vast majority of teachers are not going to be fit to work to 68 and so, after a lifetime of service and devotion to children, they will not receive their full pension. Overall, teachers will pay more into their pension only to receive less at the finishing line, even if they manage to stay in the profession until 68. This, to me, is disgusting.

Pay

After completing a four-year degree so that I would enter a profession, safe in the knowledge that to progress I would need to continually attend CPD events and take diplomas/university courses outside of school hours, I was happy to accept the relatively low starting figure (in relation to other professional entry points) for teachers. This was because I knew that I would progress up the pay scale within the first few years of entering the profession, as I gained experience and became more competent as a teacher. This has now been removed, so that this progression is not automatic, being replaced by a target driven system. Many business minded people agree with such a process, but what they fail to realise is that teaching is not a business (as much as the Education Secretary would love it to be). Research suggests that performance related pay does not work in education. OECD research on the impact of performance related pay in teaching has concluded that “the overall picture reveals no relationship between average student performance in a country and the use of performance-based pay schemes.” Performance related pay undermines and disrupts effective school improvement.  It encourages teachers to work for themselves rather than pooling their expertise.  Schools are learning communities – good teachers build their students’ achievement on foundations laid by other teachers and support staff.  Teachers work best when they work collaboratively and are trusted to do their job; not when they are constantly held to account over statistics on a sheet of paper.

Workload, Inconsistency and Buffoonery

When I entered the profession, I thought I did so with my eyes wide open to the workload that was coming my way. I was wrong. Although I anticipated hard work, I thought I might have a work-life balance. For at least the first year I didn’t. I was in work early, stayed late and took work home with me. If I had an hour to eat tea and sit down each day, it was a good day. Slowly I have clawed my life back but this is not due to the fact that the workload has subdued; quite the opposite is, in fact, true: Displays, working walls, an inordinate amount of planning and bureaucracy, creating resources, adapting lessons, two stars and a wish, play time duties, assemblies, after-school clubs, pupil progress meetings, staff development meetings, parent-teacher meetings, school plays, recitals, sporting events, performances, faires… the list is endless and can literally take over your life. As a teacher, this is just something we accept; but the camel’s back is weakening and there are only so many more straws it can take.

The inconsistency within the education system is also deeply worrying. Government comes up with fad after fad, and before it has soaked down through the system and been moulded into anything that resembles something that may be of any use to teachers and pupils, it has been replaced by a new fad or buzzword. The truth, though it may seem obvious if you look at it logically, is that politicians are not the best qualified to be making decisions about education, particularly when they advocate testing so much. Testing is the approach that those who know least about education advocate most. And Gove, who knows nothing of education, loves testing.

He moved the goalposts for English students in the middle of their GCSE course; he introduced tests which assess pupils spelling, punctuation and grammar, despite opposition from headteachers and other educational experts; he tests six year olds on their ability to read words that literally have been made up, although research has shown it has no additional educational benefit and now he want to test four year old’s literacy and numeracy within weeks of starting school.  He even allows your children to be taught by people without qualified teacher status. In fact, some schools only request that their teachers have four GCSEs. His buffoonery knows no bounds.

I don’t take strike action lightly, but the fact is that there are too many grievances to allow myself to be flatly ignored. Action short of strike action was taken for months, went largely unnoticed and didn’t work. The unions have tried to engage in talks with Michael Gove, to no avail. There is little else to do, but strike. He may ignore this action, but never underestimate the power of the individual. MP’s are elected to parliament to represent the people, and if they fail to do so then they must be held to account.

On Wednesday, 26th March, I will be joining the strike action being taken by the National Association of Teachers. I hope you will support me.

Secret Teacher

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39 thoughts on “Why I Am Going On Strike

  1. Tim April 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm Reply

    Well, I’m a hard working engineer, but when I trained to be a secondary maths teacher, it was completely unworkable. It was almost a joke, for a completely rubbish salary, and no sleep whatsoever. And all these lot that have NO idea whatsoever just keep moaning on about teachers getting all summer off and how bad their own jobs are makes me a little bit cross! I just couldn’t do it. So I walked out and got a better paid job thanks to the degree and experience I’ve earned throughout my life. A point which springs to mind is one of the cute little darlings once headbutted a wooden door, and accused me of smashing it into him. Scared me half to death. So, congratulations to all the good teachers that stick at it (and yes, we all know there’s ones that aren’t so good), but the state of the education in this country makes me worried. We’re all going to need a doctor at some point, and who will have taught them?

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  2. ihavemylifeback March 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm Reply

    We need to hear more from those who have worked in both teaching and industry/business/private sector. I have and 95% say teaching was far tougher – but that’s anecdotal I’m afraid

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  3. Ross pritchard March 27, 2014 at 9:21 am Reply

    To all those who wish to strike

    Try working as a construction industry professional.

    – 7 years to qualify as a landscape architect / architect

    – redundancy every four to eight years in line with recessions

    – low pay and poor working hours, often working through the night to meet deadlines for planning or alterations onsite.

    – little to no pensions unless you set them up yourself.

    You guys sit there with your cushy annual pay increases, pensions, and ten weeks holiday a year and have the audacity to complain! While we struggle by the public sector sponge off our economy. Unfortunately not all of you are hard working, professional or care about their students. In my experience this was a minority of teachers.

    Thanks for causing disruption AGAIN.

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    • 99percenthappy March 27, 2014 at 11:04 am Reply

      Ross – if your services are required, there will always be a market for them. The more demand, the better working conditions you can expect. As I’m sure you know, that’s how the private sector works. And if you’re good at what you do, you can always set up your own company, and as long as there’s still demand you won’t be made redundant. Simple.

      If you love what you do, low pay and long hours aren’t a big deal. (Most) teachers have shown that for years.

      The public sector covers essential jobs (unless you think that education is a privilege not a right, in which case we’ll have to agree to differ). You could always join the public sector and do something worthwhile there. Apparently the lifestyle is cushy. Or you can stay in the private sector and do what you love. It’s a free country. If now or one day you have kids, it may be important to you that the people who teach them are both good at what they do and valued and supported by the state. Such is not currently the case.

      But until you have any idea what it’s like to be a teacher, your assessment of their position is worthless. Disruption is the whole point of a strike. It comes from people who have no other option because they care deeply about the education system and can see that it is at crisis point. Hopefully those more considerate than you will ask themselves exactly why teachers are taking such an extreme measure and do their bit to try to reform the system.

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  4. anon March 27, 2014 at 7:30 am Reply

    To the author of this blog, Mark and Matt. Teachers pensions are unaffordable and here is the evidence of why.

    http://www.havering-college.ac.uk/upload/docs/Financial%20Statements%202010-11%20(signed)%20.pdf

    Go down to note 19 in these accounts – it’s all about the teachers’ pension scheme. This set of accounts is typical of your average educational institution.

    Basically I’m an accountant but it doesn’t take an accountant to tell you that when you have a greater value of liabilities in a pension scheme than assets to pay them with, you have a problem. Teachers pensions are essentially a huge black hole in the public finances. Actuaries value the teachers pension schemes in this country independently and we as auditors independently verify them. There is no way you can possibly deny that these pensions are unaffordable.

    Now, you may have a good reason to support the strike but you have to acknowledge these facts to convince me.

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    • Matt March 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm Reply

      I don’t think that counts as a current valuation of the Teachers Pension Scheme, which is what we are asking the government to do (and they have failed to do so far). Since the TPS was set up, teachers have paid in £46.4bn more to the scheme than has been paid out in pensions. An interest free loan to UK Gov!
      They won’t carry out a valuation because figures won’t justify the cuts.

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  5. Anonymous March 27, 2014 at 6:46 am Reply

    I’m not a teacher. I do work and I have two children whose school was closed yesterday. But I completely support your strike.

    The teachers at my children’s school in Bristol do a brilliant job. I think it’s disgusting how teachers are ripped appart as if they have some kind of plum job.

    The hours I see them put in and the dedication to the children is humbling.

    And, I completely agree with all the points you have raised. They are obvious even to those outside the profession.

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  6. Ray March 27, 2014 at 1:35 am Reply

    Sadly, and ironically, I was too busy to strike about workload.
    Because I was off ill last Friday I was put under pressure to teach exam groups today! Sums it up really!

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  7. Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 10:49 pm Reply

    Oh no, I’m so sorry…..by striking today have I forced you to look after your own children…..how inconvenient for you

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    • Anonymous March 27, 2014 at 4:38 am Reply

      It is not me who has been inconvenienced.
      I am not the colleague in the work place who has had to use a day’s valuable leave to cover looking after there child (which I’m sure they enjoyed doing but would of rather used holiday time at there leisure not being forced to take holiday).
      I am also not the colleague who had to request taking time off and making up the hours at a later date as they cannot afford the day off (of course inconveniently they will probably have to work late shifts to make the time up and spend less time with the children!!).
      My point is the actions of some have a impact on others and this is inconsiderate given the poor argument for strike.
      Why don’t you strike in your own time and make your point this way (or would you find it difficult to find child care i wonder).

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      • Anonymous March 29, 2014 at 7:44 am

        Poor reason to strike?? Well it’s a very good job that you are not a teacher as it’s ‘their children’ not ‘there children’.

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  8. Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 10:03 pm Reply

    Poor reasons to strike as you are indeed affecting and disrupting parents who have to take a day off to cover your inconsiderate actions.Your pay is more than suitable and your workload i would kindly suggest is far lower than in the private sector (do you spend 3.5 hrs each day commuting then working a minimum of 10 hrs).Why can you not make your point by striking in your summer holidays where by your decisions maybe supported a little more!!!

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    • secretteacher6 March 26, 2014 at 10:25 pm Reply

      Unfortunately strike action isn’t supposed to be convenient. By definition a strike is to remove your services; you can’t do this at times when your services are not being utilised. Yes I do work more than ten hours a day during the week and then do several hours over the weekend. The commute time is completely irrelevant. The current system is unsustainable. It needs to change or your children’s education (assuming you have kids) will suffer. I’m sorry it has come to this and you have been inconvenienced but I suggest you look at the issues facing teachers. It seems to me you only oppose the strike action as it has directly affected you, which seems to me short-sighted and, dare I say, selfish.

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  9. Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm Reply

    I, like many others here, have worked in both the private sector and the education system. I did not strike today but completely support those who did. I have a healthy work life balance at present but with the current uncertainty and red tape surrounding the profession I can guarantee I’ll be back in finance in the near future as this work life balance will become unsustainable

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  10. Kerry Howells March 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm Reply

    I find the arrogance of some people on here breath-taking and wonder if they should go into school leadership themselves. Teachers are not all idiots, nor should you belilttle someone’s degree or eductaion (FYI I have a first class degree with an average grade in the 80s, I’m a teacher and could have taken a job that paid significantly more so please keep your stereotypes and misguided notions to yourself). The comparison between other professions is not only ridiculous but also unfair. Each profession has its own grievance. If you want to make the argument about fact recital and subject knowledge, consider that a primary teacher needs to be: a historian (with knowledge from evolution up until the 1960s), a mathematician, a scientist, a geographer, a literature expert, an author, a psychologist, a statician, a peacekeeper (with many parents!), a sports coach (in netball, gymnastics, cricket, dance, football, rounders, swimming, basketball, tennis, badminton…)
    If you know a (good) teacher, you will know that they work over 70 hours a week. At my school we are in at 7am and leave around 8pm; 6 week holidays are a myth- we still have planning, preparation, curriculum design, classroom displays etc. to do in this time. If you calculate hours worked, even with holidays taken into account, the hourly wage works out far below the national minimum. However, this is not why any of the good teachers go into teaching. You go to inspire people and genuinely change lives, for the moments when children who were written off genuinely turn a corner and discover the joy of learning, for when the difficult child begins to respond because “You’re the only one who ever listens to me.” Yet with all the changes that are being bludgeoned over a teacher’s head from this current shambles of a government, the time to make these changes for children is gone. It is replaced by endless filling in of spreadsheets, of reporting to middle leaders who have no clue themselves when stepping into a classroom yet they regularly come and leave negative feedback on lessons they couldn’t teach themselves and in writing meticulously detailed plans that are to show Ofsted, not to improve the lesson in any way (anyone knows that good lessons will follow where the children’s needs take you, not by what you ordain will happen in that classroom. This requires a great deal of subject knowledge, but apparently we are all dunces with thirds and 2:2s so couldn’t possibly do this).
    Schools are run by people with little classroom experience and, the biggest problem of all, absolutely no use of research evidence to base their decisions on. Decisions are made by their ‘hunch’ or what they feel will work, even if it flies in the face of every available bit of evidence because it fits their ‘vision for the school’. Education is run, as the author said, by consistent and high level buffonery from the very top reaches of the government to the leadership teams in schools. Unless this changes, you are going to turn out a generation of overtested, mass-produced, close minded fact reciters, not genuine thinkers. Instead of scientific enquiry, we are now supposed to teach children to recite and recognise the names of leaves from different trees. I picture these children at future job interviews:
    “Can you solve this problem?”
    “No, but you have an oak tree outside your window.”
    What a terrifying vision for the future.

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  11. Paul Smyth March 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

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  12. Martin Strother March 26, 2014 at 11:07 am Reply

    ‘to which’ they are entitled, not ‘of which’ – tut!

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  13. EInstein March 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm Reply

    I understand all these wonderful arguments and i know that there are some fantastic teachers in the profession however finishing University and getting a job being paid nearly £14.15 per hour which is what it equates to in a normal job with 5 weeks holiday. I have to say the teachers that leave the profession are normally the good ones that are fed of the schools and the paperwork. How is it that as education budgets are reduced the teachers expect more money to themselves, which in turn removes the funding from the school and therefore the students. I spent 4 years at University, I run my own business and work many hours, holidays are a luxury. I also know of Lawyers and Doctors who were students studying longer who start on bascially the same hourly rate. Nurses and the other hospital staff are on significantly less and truely do the job because they want to help people. Generally the medical staff when under pressure work to rule, doing what is required of them and not going above and beyond. Personally, fair performance related pay should be welcomed by a profession, those good teachers will get what they deserve and so will the poor ones. Performance is not based on paperwork but on student performance. If you are a good teacher, you will empower your student to achieve their potential, if year on year the child meets their potential we will have well rounded children finishing school with a high qualitiy education. Unfortunately to many teachers now teach to the national average which is far too low, hurding those drifting below upto the pack and reigning in the bright kids so that they don’t get too far ahead. Children should be encouraged, pushed to perform to their best and their strengths and where weaknesses lie within core subjects, taking pupils out into smaller groups with TA’s and HTA’s is what they are there for. Far too many TA’s and HTA’s are used for photocopying and coffee making by teachers that think they now have a personal assistant. Teachers are the equivalent of Lawyers or Doctors when they graduate, they don’t actually make real life and death decisions or have to remember case law from some obscure date in history. My teachers were well versed in their subjects, most of them achieve either Masters or PhD’s in their chosen subject, this wasn’t a public school but a state run comprehensive, now it would appear that the education quality of teachers is dropping, do we really want Maths taught by a person that got a C at GCSE and has a 2:2 degree in Maths. We want our children to be educated by quality people at the top of their subject and therefore their profession. Unfortunately the profession doesn’t attract many of those, those that are don’t really worry about the conditions becasue they truely are there for the children. I believe any teacher that decides to strike is making an admission that they come before the children and if that’s the case what right do they have to be a teacher.

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    • Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 11:02 am Reply

      You obviously no nothing about education

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      • Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 6:55 pm

        Neither do you judging by your spelling. …know 🙂 lol

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    • Tim March 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm Reply

      Trust me a 2:2 at University level in Maths isn’t half bad! I’m a former Bath student and got that and I took Maths A level getting nearly top marks and an A* at GCSE. You’d be lucky to even pass a uni maths degree if you were getting only C at GCSE level. Could I have worked a bit harder? Probably.. those were my student days.

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      • EInstein March 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        Tim, does that not just prove the point, getting almost Top Marks at GCSE and A-Level should have meant you were more than capable of achieving a 1st or 2:1. This is the issue, the standards within Further aren’t dropping and now the entrance requirements are even higher because of trying to differentiate the best students. I believe that A levels should be set by the best University of those subjects or even be entrance exams for studying to see what a student is truely able to do. Only the brightest are cheery picked by the Uni’s and offered research positions and that is generally in the final year of study. i actually studied engineering and graduated with honours. I had to read Engineering Mathematics and actually took the option in my 3rd year to study it further. Nothing worth doing is easy but we must sort out the gap between A Levels and Degrees or was it just the student life that stopped you geting higher?

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    • A Teacher March 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm Reply

      EInstein, I am wondering whether you have ever worked as a teacher or lived with one? Is your £14.15 an hour based on the hours we are suppose to work or the hours teachers actually do? I am always in school by 7.30am (sometimes 6.30) and leave at 6.30 pm (without a lunch break). I also work around 3-8 hours on the weekend. Last half term I went in for 3 half days (and I am expecting to work some days this Easter).

      As for qualifications, I am a primary school teacher and I have a PhD. I was a lecturer for 2 years before changing jobs. I took a £8,000 pay cut to become a primary school teacher. I now work much longer hours than I used to as a lecturer. Why did I do that? Because I love this job. I love the difference I can make on the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Yet you are telling me ‘I believe any teacher that decides to strike is making an admission that they come before the children and if that’s the case what right do they have to be a teacher.’ If I was just worried about money and working hours I would not have made this change and stuck with it.

      I am working today at home for most of today as I do on many of my ‘days off’. However, I am officially striking (and therefore not being paid) as I believe I need to stand up for the quality of education children receive.

      I am thinking about the children. I do not want them taught by teachers who are bitter from years of being treated disrespectfully. The 40-50% drop out rate of teachers means that there is less competition for jobs and thus standards are lower. Personally I do not have a problem with performance related pay if issued fairly, but I believe no teacher could be in this job, with the workload, unless they were genuinely passionate about it. One day off school will not affect children. Bitter, tired teachers and less competition for teaching jobs will.

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    • Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm Reply

      You literally have no idea what you’re talking about, it’s laughable!

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    • Anonymous March 26, 2014 at 9:11 pm Reply

      How do you know this happens if you work in business? Prat.

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    • Ray March 27, 2014 at 1:30 am Reply

      Brilliant Einstein, did you put this through a grammar or spelling checker?
      Apart from talking bollocks, have you actually given ANY thought to how exactly performance related pay might work, or do you assume that the best teachers work in private (public! haha!) schools teaching small selected classes and getting fantastic results! How brilliant! Pay them extr… oh! And who in their right mind would teach the less able who carnt spell! lol!

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    • Tobias Fox March 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm Reply

      You obviously know nothing about Maths degrees or the measure of classification in comparison to other subjects, Finishing a Maths degree represents requires a high mind for the subject and a teacher with a 2:2 in the subject is more than adequate if their other qualities are suited to teaching.

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      • EInstein March 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        Thanks Tobias, actually graduated with honours in engineering so maths was clearly not my strength :). I graduated back in 1997 and Ray I actually retook my English Language 4 times to get the C grade that I needed to get to Univeristy, i also retook my A Level Maths going from an E to a B and that was when we didn’t do coursework.

        In my final year at University I was diagnosed with dyslexia however by that time I’d already learnt most of the coping methods for it.

        Most of my school teachers were fantastic those that knew of my science ability pushed me in that direction and supported me getting through the other bits that were weaknesses.

        Ray my ideas for performance related pay are thus;-
        Children must achieve a certain rise in levels over the duration of the school year, those levels are measured just like now by the receiving teacher when the student starts their next year, if the child hasn’t progressed enought then this goes against, those children that have progresses at a greater rate goes as a positive for the teacher. If you get more positives than negatives then you get a rewards if you don’t then a review is carried out to see if it’s due to the intake or the teachers style/ability.
        The initial assessment of a student can be roughly sought from the EYFS during reception.

        It’s not measured against a national average but against the schools average and expectation we know that children that have a less enriched home life are less likely to flourish at school but that’s no reason for the school to not enrich as much as it can. However this take money and time both resources are in an ever reducing pot and with the burden of salary increases and greater pension contribution it’s going to get squeezed even further.

        Other countries with better educational standard have the children in real terms for less time and yet achieve greater standards. We must encourage the basic tools of Maths and English to be taught in the initials years of the school up to KS1 (it doesn’t ned to be in some kind of strict chalk and talk style, other subjects can be used to deliver this but with the aim of focusing on the two skills) then bring in the wider subjects in more context with the Sciences, Humanities and the Arts. But if a child can’t read they will struggle to access anything else independently and isn’t that the ultimate aim.

        Actually I know a fantastic teacher she’s on supply trying to get a full time job. She’s worked in both Secondary but now Primary and runs an SRB, she’s got kids whose teachers wouldn’t enter them for KS2 Sat’s getting level 3 in Maths and reading and she’s only been in place since January. Children whose parents were told by teachers not expect much because they simply weren’t capable.

        Anyone that thinks I’m have a general pop at all teachers is wrong. The great ones are exactly that. What do people think should happen to teachers that have said this and then the same students with a different teacher achieve so much. My be an apology to the parents, maybe a resignation, maybe actually the admission would lead the teacher to look at one another’s methods and learn from each other, learn from the mistakes.

        I could never be a primary teacher, simply because my attitude towards discipline is too strict and as already noted my spelling isn’t good enough. I truly value the good teachers out there, I just wish that they would stand up and be heard over the poor teachers. The good teachers are busy getting on with the prep for that day/week/term are there any goods teachers on here that will speak up about the frustrations they have with not just the bureaucracy within institution but colleagues that they know aren’t up to the job.

        Maybe a teacher has a suggestion on how to get remove or reduce the number of poor ones in education or is it just easier to blame the bureaucracy because we won’t offend our peers or in case I’m actually the bad one. This is why external auditors must be used, but again they should be teachers from similar a school with similar demographics outside of the LEA of the school being audited. In Norfolk we have a LEA (maybe still) in special measures going in and advising poor schools what they are doing wrong. Blind leading the Blind.

        Maybe a few teachers have a suggestion on how they should be audited and check to ensure they’re continually doing a good job.

        Decide to spell check this one but the grammar will still be shocking. Sorry!

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  14. Nigel Bamford March 25, 2014 at 9:31 am Reply

    Your first sentence, ” I will be taking strike action against Michael Gove” sort of sums it up: you don’t like Michael Gove.

    We get that.

    But what will a one day strike achieve? Who is it going to hurt most?

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  15. Lisa March 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm Reply

    Everyone is always quick to complain, strike action doesn’t work, all it does is make it harder for those directly involved, in this instance the children. Teaching is a vocation, not a job, some hardships and difficulties are to be expected in any profession. Quit your complaining and get on with it. On another point, your comment of “He even allows your children to be taught by people without qualified teacher status” is not just unfair, its insulting. Teachers trained through alternate establishments in other methods are equally capable of providing children with a well rounded education. As a trained Montessori Teacher I find the constant digs and jibes from those with QTS tiresome. I definitely wont be striking on Wednesday.

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  16. Andrew R March 16, 2014 at 5:21 pm Reply

    I left the teaching profession at the end of last academic year after 3 years. I can honestly say that my life is now much more straight forward and stress free. I actually earn more money for working far fewer hours (even after taking into account the reduction in holidays). As a former NUT member, huge solidarity with anyone taking part in strike action and my respect to those who continue in the profession.

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  17. popcornsofi March 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm Reply

    I’ve worked in high pressure, target led private sector and I am now a teacher. No comparison, Dave. If my kids kept me awake during the night, I could take an easier day, cut meetings short, go home at 5.30 and go straight to bed. And with regards to the pension LISTEN to the facts. At present only 45% of teachers reach pensionable age in service. Be assured the government have done their maths, I’m sure their predictions for the 68 threshold is half of what it is at present. Look beyond the Daily Mail.

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  18. Mark March 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm Reply

    Dave, I do not agree with the pension changes (as there is no evidence there is not enough money for the public sector pensions). Would you want a person of a grandparent age 68 (my mother’s age and I am 40!!) in a classroom teaching thirty 14 year olds for 5 hours a day? Do you think that is possible? It is a challenging, physical job. I just guess the government are hoping most teachers die before they can claim their pension! Anyway – the reason I am striking is more due to the degradation of the education system that your children will enter. At present I am teaching Year 10 students who have no idea what qualifications will be available to them in 2 years. In fact.. WE don’t either… as there might be 1 year, 2 year AS levels.. that stand alone from a 2 year A level. Gove says that Uni’s use GCSE grades as an indicator for offering places… yet he says they are not fit for purpose AND the uni’s say they use the AS results. It is craziness… changes changes changes….. A local “Studio School” (government initiative) has just been given OUTSTANDING by OFSTED.. due to the outstanding progression of their students as they are PREDICTED to get top 10% in the country exam results… PREDICTED?.. They are outstanding with NO results?… Post 16 is “OUTSTANDING” for teaching and learning despite the fact that they didn’t observe any lessons… and most are completed by the local college!.. it is just a farce!

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  19. Joe March 12, 2014 at 7:55 pm Reply

    I can sympathise with every point you’ve made here (as a teacher myself). What I can’t agree on is taking strike action. As you have said, this is the third time in three years that strike action has been taken. It started off with NUT, NASUWT and ATL all joining together in the public sector strike, then it dwindled to just NUT and NASUWT and now just the NUT. The reason for the drop off in support? Strikes don’t work. They merely antagonise a government and a country who already regard teachers in pretty low esteem. I am ashamed to be part of a profession where a minority of militant workers pull down the reputation and respect of their own. I’m not suggesting for one minute that we sit back and accept all the changes which Gove has/wants to implement but we need to be realistic and accept that we work for a public sector which does not have the finances to sustain the level of pensions and budgets enjoyed in recent times. Many staff I work with will take strike action on March 26th. Very few of them will be marching with the NUT. If we want to change the system then we need to stand together, but not at the expense of the children we are paid (and are privileged) to educate. Lets do the best for them.

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    • Matt March 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm Reply

      Who says we don’t have the finances to support teachers’ pensions? One of the reasons I am striking is because of the Government’s continued refusal to carry out a valuation of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. If its unsustainable, then prove it. Our pension scheme is self-sustaining (as long as teachers continue to be part of it). We didn’t cause the financial crisis, so why should we pay for it?

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  20. Jackie dillon March 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm Reply

    This is the sort of false consciousness that the Tories have fed into the system….”if I don’t get it why should you”. I on the other hand have plenty of friends who work in the private sector receiving huge bonuses, final salary pensions and annual pay hikes. So because I, as a teacher don’t receive them, do I have the right to deny them. No of course not and it’s ridiculous to suggest that. Each job has benefits that others do not. I despise having to pay income support to pensioners from the private sector who didn’t make any private provision for retirement when they were in work, but as a public sector worker who has like me, I cannot do anything about it.

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    • Tobias Fox March 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm Reply

      @Jackie. You are either mistaken or in an unusual position to know so many people in the private sector with final salary schemes. Such schemes are now as rare as rocking horse manure to new members. There used to be a premium of salary in the private sector that justified the public sector pensions but this isn’t the case now out side of London and the home counties where national pay deals mean that many public sector employees are well paid when comparing like for like jobs based on qualifications, security input etc.. Increased cost and longevity meant that pension contributions had to rise for the same benefits and teachers still get a great deal. Nevertheless I support the teachers in the fact that they have no much managment forced on them which prevents them doing what they do best. Any revision to pensions also has to allow them to wind down or get out before 68 as there are serious proven health consequences in this profession for those going full time beyond 60.

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  21. Dave March 12, 2014 at 7:19 am Reply

    I work in the private sector. I have no real pension to speak of, I have not had a pay rise in 6 years (not even inline with inflation so really I’ve had a pay cut) due to the uncertain state of the economy. I work 45+ hours a week and have to work until I’m 68 and I only get 4 weeks holiday a year. I know many many colleges, customers and friends in similar possitions. Teachers need to realise while things are not as good as they used to be for them for most people things are, and always have been worse. Everyone has it tough at the moment, why should teachers be exempt from that?

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    • 99percenthappy March 13, 2014 at 12:25 am Reply

      Many teachers that I know work 70+ hours a week, often on their feet and dealing with many people at once as well as a number of stressful situations. They’re lucky to get 4 weeks holiday a year (and not to be sick during that time if exhaustion catches up with them). And now they’re demonised by the Education Secretary and often by the media. But they’re doing an essential job and not many other professionals can say that. I’ve worked in the private sector and in state education and there’s absolutely no comparison. I still work in education (although now freelance) and I’ll be on the march on strike day selling T-shirts with Gove Out! on the front and a list of positive changes we’d like to see on the back. Michael Gove is a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance and teachers, who by the way have a pretty high threshold for being mistreated, have simply had enough. Something has to change and it will.

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