Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Download and share our latest leaflet

We've had a tremendous response to our call for help in distributing leaflets and building our campaign. We've leafleted in the market square alongside colleagues in the NUT for the last two Saturdays, handed out hundreds of leaflets and got more signatures for our petition. But most overwhelming has been the steady stream of people volunteering to put our leaflet through their doors or hand them to parents at their school gates. We're working hard to make sure that everyone who has volunteered gets a batch of leaflets but bear with us if it takes a few days!

If you can help us by downloading or sharing our leaflet via email networks of social media, please do so. You can find our latest leaflet here.

Why is this so important?

We've achieved a massive amount in a short space of time and become a major progressive voice for education in our borough.

We've raised the profile of the issues of Free Schools, academies and of the government's wider attacks on our education system - and on teachers.

We've also worked hard to support our community schools and counter some of the misconceptions and myths that circulate around them, thanks in part to government propaganda. But to support and encourage our community schools we need to become bigger and extend our reach.

Everything we do is down to volunteers giving up time, however small, to support our schools.

Please help us by making sure this leaflet gets out as far as possible.

If you know anyone who hasn't yet signed our petition, ask them to sign online here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Why should parents support the teachers’ strike?

This blog post was written by Kiri Tunks, local parent in Waltham Forest and teacher in Tower Hamlets:


Teachers know that any strike by teachers is a major headache for parents. We realise that many parents will have to work at home, find emergency childcare, or take a day’s leave. Believe me when I tell you that no teacher takes this strike lightly, and it is precisely because of the concerns we have for education and young people that we do it.

Officially, the strike has been called over excessive workload and bureaucracy, the introduction of Performance related pay and the raising of the retirement age to 68. These are the kind of industrial questions that we are allowed to take action on by law and, if they are imposed, will cause a crisis in our schools.

But I can tell you that what is also motivating teachers to walk out is that they are sick of their professionalism and expertise being undermined; sick of being ignored and dismissed by an arrogant Department of Education; and deeply concerned about what this government’s changes are doing to education and to young people.

Here are a few things we think are wrong:

- This government is handing community schools, land and resources to private companies, including closing down LA schools against the wishes of the parents.

- This government thinks your child doesn’t need a qualified teacher.

- This government thinks that if your teacher’s morale is low that that is good for your child’s education.

- The government thinks it’s more important to invite the free market into education than provide school places for children where they are needed.

We think this is madness, which is why we have been engaged in a community campaign to ‘Stand Up For Education’. We don’t think this government wants to discuss these changes publically because we think parents will share our alarm.

- We think schools are run best by local authorities in the local communities they serve.

- We think every child deserves a qualified teacher.

- We think any changes to exams, curricula and policy should be thought out and properly consulted on in a realistic timescale.

- We think it is immoral to hand over public funds to private individuals & companies without any public redress or accountability.

We can’t strike on these questions but they matter every bit as much to us and we will campaign just as hard on them.

So why should you care about teachers’ workload, pay and pension rights?

Workload & Bureaucracy

Despite what you hear, teachers do not roll into school at 9am and swagger home at 3pm. A teacher’s working day will typically start much, much earlier and continue into the evenings, over the weekend and through the much-lauded holidays.  The Department of Education was recently forced by an NUT campaign to publish its much overdue workload survey which showed how workload has risen under Gove.

The workload survey disclosed that primary teachers are routinely working nearly 60 hours a week; secondary teachers are working 55 hours a week.  This kind of workload is ridiculous in any job, but in one that is so physically & emotionally draining it is utterly stupid. It is bad for teachers but it is bad for children too.

Worse, much of the work teachers are being asked to do is not directly associated with teaching and learning: far too much of the work is unnecessary bureaucracy that actively prevents us spending time on the more important job of planning resources and lessons, doing research or giving feedback to our students. Perhaps this is why 40% of teachers leave within the first 5 years of teaching.

Quite simply, this workload is making qualified teachers leave, exhausting those who stay and putting off those who might once have considered teaching as a career.

Performance Related Pay

It doesn’t work in teaching. Every study, every piece of research, has failed to show that judging individuals in a competitive systems simply doesn’t work in a school or college context which relies on collaboration and co-operation between staff and students. It assumes that children learn in neat little percentiles and that it is possible to apportion every little bit of progress made to a particular individual.

But it just doesn’t work like that. Children make progress for a number of reasons, and because of a range of people who have helped them. Bringing competition between teachers into the education of your child won’t benefit them. It will simply narrow what they are taught, because when you are being judged on what a child’s progress is, you will only want to teach what can be measured.

Unfair Pension Changes

Our pension fund is self-funded: all the money in the teachers’ fund was paid in by teachers. In fact, we have paid in £46 billion more than we have taken out.

Where is it?

We have asked the government to do a valuation of the pension scheme and prove that changes are necessary. They have refused.

Over the years, teachers have accepted a lower salary in lieu of a decent pension. We are now paying more in, and getting less, at the same time as working longer hours. Now the government wants us to work these crazy hours until we are 68.

Ask any teacher if they think they can work full time in a classroom (on a 55+hour week) until they are 68 and they will laugh in your face.

We want a teaching profession which has teachers with the energy & enthusiasm to help all children develop and progress in creative and dynamic ways.

This government’s policies are having the opposite effect.

This is why we strike.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Our Community, Our Schools, supporting our schools and our teachers

Although one Free School has been delayed and another spectacularly collapsed recently, and in spite of the national media attention on the failings of Free Schools, Tauheedul’s ‘Walthamstow Leadership Academy’ is still intending to open in September 2014. That means that our community schools need our support more than ever.

We have three main aims.
Firstly, to build support for our community schools. With competition from at least one ‘Free School’, they will need our support and our involvement more than ever. We’ll be running regular items on our blogsite on how you can get involved in supporting your local community schools.

Secondly, to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the planned Free Schools and to give a voice to everyone who wants our children to be provided for within the local authority, comprehensive community school sector.

Third, to build our own campaign and extend our reach.

As part of this campaigning, we will be out leafleting alongside the NUT on the next two Saturdays of this month. On March 26th, the NUT, will be taking strike action against attacks on their pay, conditions of service and pensions. Ahead of this, they have also launched the ‘Stand up for Education’. This campaign draws together the various government attacks on teachers and on our schools and seeks to unite parents and teachers around basic demands and principles that should underpin a good education system. You can read more about this campaign here.

Local teachers who are NUT members will be out leafleting in support of this campaign in Walthamstow in the market square at 11am on Saturday 15 March and Saturday 22 March and OCOS supporters will be joining them with our own new leaflet, which you can see here.

Can you help us by joining our supporters for an hour this Saturday or next Saturday?

Would you be prepared to help by leafleting your neighbourhood and making sure that everyone gets one of our leaflets through their door?

If so, please email