Fifteen schools across Bournemouth and Poole will close today with 22 partially open as teachers strike forcing some parents to take a day off to look after their children.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are striking over what they claim is an excessive workload, performance related pay and pension changes.
Branch Secretary of Bournemouth NUT, David Morgan, said: “Michael Gove has spoken to the unions but he has still refused to discuss the concerns of teachers, we have been prepared to call off the strike even at this late stage if serious discussion was to happen, but that has not happened.”
The strike is likely to have less national impact than the strike in November because only NUT members are involved.
The average primary school teacher is now working nearly 60 hours per week. Secondary heads work 63 and the average secondary teacher is working nearly 56 hours a week.
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said in February that the School Teachers Review Body had delivered Michael Gove a huge blow by rebuffing his recommendations on teachers’ conditions and pay.
The union is concerned about disruptions to schools but they feel the overall benefit for students will be better than not having their voices heard at all.
Dorset NUT President Matthew Lake insisted that the public were behind the strike, saying “Only 10%, less than 10% of the public actually back Michael Gove’s reforms.”
But a Department of Education said: “Parents will struggle to understand why the NUT is pressing ahead with strikes over the Government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more.
“They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.”
Less than a quarter of teachers balloted by the NUT voted in favour of this strike.
Tens of thousands of teachers are expected to take part in today’s action, but more schools are open than closed.
A full list of schools that are closed today can be found at here.
At the rally today the Dorset NUT President and secondary teacher, Matthew Lake made a speech quoting the recently retired Headmaster of Eton, Tony Little:
“Teachers have become functionaries in service industry because of our relentless focus on exams and targets.”
Lake continued to express that, “We are often described as looney lefties, trouble makers, rebel-rousers, actually we are not. What we do is represent a whole range of thought as educators’. We are dealing with Education policies which is driven by the extremists.”
Lake claimed that working for 60 hours a week is not a sensible idea for anybody and even after working these hours he feels that he has still let people down and has not done enough; “I’m working hard yet still not getting to the end of the job, now how is that good for anybody.”
The emphasis focused upon Scandinavian teaching techniques, in particular Norway and Finland, a Dorset Teacher, Littlue Smith said that; “40% of newly qualified teachers leave in their first year. We look to America but why? Scandinavian countries have the highest success. The children climb trees and play outside.”
Robin Head, the NUT Executive for the South West added that, “In Norway they can’t believe we have tests, teachers are trusted.”
Finally, speaker and teacher Andy Wooley expressed an interesting euphemism saying, “You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter. Michael Gove is like a car advert, they always show you an open road, never stuck in traffic.”[portfolio_slideshow id=46970]