Today teachers at Uplands Junior School took bold strike action after the schools Governing Body decided to accept the head teacher’s “re-structuring” plans; an action take “despite every member of staff’s opposition.” (On a point of note, the teachers emphasized that this strike had “nothing whatsoever to do with the recent media coverage about the head teacher’s Facebook pages.”)
The so-called “restructuring,” in keeping with the Government’s educational “reforms,” has nothing to do with improving education, and everything to do with undermining effective teaching. With eight highly valuable Teaching Assistants about to lose their jobs, the staff at Uplands are “extremely worried” about the effect this will have on their ability to give their pupils “the education they deserve and have been provided over the past ten years or so.”
Unfortunately all the staff at Uplands have been treated with nothing short of contempt by their employers. And as the teachers observed in a leaflet handed out to parents on the picket line:
The Governing Body has been informed, either through individual staff members’ own submissions or through joint ones through the union secretaries, of our concerns about the staffing review. It is not true that Governors were unaware of these concerns and at no stage did any Governor make further enquiries about the views of staff members. The Chair, Mr. Abid Matak, and indeed any other non-staff governor, made no attempt to find out what the teachers themselves felt. Neither have they at any point considered your views as parents.
Highlighting the Governors neglect of their pupils parents they “only announced their decision to close the school to parents yesterday.” Moreover, as a result of the Governing Body’s backwards approach to the teachers’ concerns two parent governors have resigned from their positions.
Uplands head teacher, Dr Luckcock, appears to have thrown his political lot in with the Con-Dem’s ongoing commitment to misleading the public. This is because the only “evidence” he provided to support his case that Uplands’ will be better off without their well qualified Teaching Assistants is a single document published by a so-called educational charity known as the Sutton Trust.
To give a taste of the type of corporatized educational system promoted by the Sutton Trust one need only consult their board of directors, which is a veritable who’s who of the global corporate elite. Two particularly notable board members of this “charity” being Sir Peter Gershon (who is the Chairman of National Grid plc, Tate & Lyle plc, and leading healthcare privateers General Healthcare Group), and Tim Bunting (the former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, and board member of yet another infamous healthcare profiteer, Circle Holdings).
With other members of staff at the school currently balloting for strike action, now is the time to show your support for Uplands Junior school. One way of doing so would be to contact the Governing Body of the school with your thoughts: reachable online at email@example.com.
As the teachers at Uplands conclude: “In support of good education, our message is: in unity with the community — stop the redundancies now!”
For critical information on the ongoing privitisation of the British education system, see Melissa Benn’s excellent book School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education (Verso Books, 2011). This book which is available to borrow from the Leicester Council library system was reviewed in the January 2012 edition of Socialism Today, see “The Con-Dem’s education counter-attack.” Also see the National Union of Teachers’ pamphlets “Academies: Looking Beyond the Spin.” (2007) and “Free Schools: Beyond the Spin of Government Policy” (2010).