One day strike in the North-West

Today is the day where the North-West teachers go on strike over pay and conditions. The NUT and NASUWT claim that this strike is affecting 2765 schools in 22 council areas. By reckoning, let’s say the average number of children in the school is around 200, that means that there are approximately 600,000 children not in school today, and thus causing trouble to several thousand families in terms of income and work.

This strike follows reports yesterday a union survey suggests that teachers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied, particularly with pay and pensions, heavy workload and school inspections making the headlines.

The NASUWT survey found more than half of respondents (53%) felt their satisfaction with their job had fallen in the past year – up 6% compared with those questioned in 2011.

Almost two thirds (65%) had considered leaving their job in the past year, while more than half (54%) had considered leaving teaching entirely, the survey claims.

The government’s changes, due to come in this autumn in England and Wales, mean that teachers’ pay will be linked to classroom performance with schools setting salaries as opposed to a national framework, which the government suggests will give more freedom to schools and allow the best teachers to be rewarded.

The action is in protest at the introduction of more performance-related pay, changes to teachers’ pensions with higher contributions, and later retirement and increased workload.

The thing that disappoints me the most about this is the unions are striking without showing any real offering of an alternative strategy for improving the way the education system is at the moment. The other thing is that the teachers who do strike do not get paid today seen as they didn’t work. I also have been talking to a couple of teachers in schools I’ve worked in previously and they have said that the strike could be construed as a ‘break in service’ which could have an impact on their pension, which basically suggests that the strikers could actually be damaging significantly the exact thing they are complaining about.

The Government unsurprisingly has condemned the strike as ‘disappointing’ and ‘giving the profession a bad name’. At a time when more graduates are coming into teaching than ever before, it strikes me as disappointing that some teachers would consider leaving the profession. If I’m honest good riddance to those who do leave, the reason I joined the profession was because I care about the next generation of children and want to provide the best opportunities for them. I’m not saying that I would work for little money, obviously you need money in life, but we all have to accept that these cuts will happen, we are not exempt as much as we’d like to be. Yesterday’s Spending Review showed a lot of huge cuts, with some Departments taking a 10% cut in a couple of years time. We don’t see every other profession whining and almost a ‘why always me’ attitude.

What do you think about the strike? Are you with the strikers or do you agree with the government about it being ‘disappointing’? Comment your thoughts, share it with friends, colleagues, whoever might be interested.

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