Firstly, I am in the ATL union and as such I cannot strike, however obviously I will be supporting my colleagues in the NUT and NASWT who decide to strike on Thursday 17th October. There has been all the usual debate about whether teachers should or shouldn't be striking, the effects on the education of children and so on.
I saw this on a friend's Facebook. He shall remain anonymous:
On the 17th October I will be going on strike. It's not something I'm very happy about but I thought I'd just clarify a few things about it:
1. There are many reasons for the strike, but most can be summed up in two words. Michael Gove. There is plenty of information out there that goes into far more detail if you would like it, but may I suggest you avoid the Daily Mail, as it is b******s and Michael Gove writes the odd column for them.
2. I, and my fellow teachers, are NOT striking for better/more pay, or better working conditions or a better pension or longer holidays.
3. I appreciate and am sorry that it inconveniences parents, and they may incur childcare costs, but hopefully it'll help them appreciate that not only do we look after their children for them during the day, we also educate them as well. We do this for every child, regardless of the parents' financial or employment status and you don't have to pay any extra on top of your taxes for this excellent provision.
4. Your hard earned taxes are not paying for me to go on strike, as we are not paid for the days we are strike. Feel free to contact the gov't to get a rebate on your tax.
5. I personally do not agree with strike action, however my union has gained many improvements over the decades with regard to the working life of teachers so that not only can schools now try and attract the best people to the teaching profession, they are also given the time and support to prepare and deliver exceptional lessons. It would be pretty shallow of me to take all the benefits and support that goes with union membership and then refuse to give them my support when they ask for it.
6. Michael Gove is a s**thead.
7. I'm not really interested if you once had a teacher who didn't care, or you didn't learn much in Geography one week, or a teacher once looked at your kid a bit funny, or you know someone who once knew a teacher who left school at 3.35pm. I do a f***ing good job, I give a s**t about the children in my care and I won't stand by and let that c*** Gove destroy my profession.
I think it sums up very well the generally feeling towards this government and in particular Michael Gove; I did do a little 'starring' to get this through your filters!
However, I have to be honest, one thing I don't totally agree with is Point 2.
Andrew Old writes extensively to explain this, and his position on his blog <TeachingBattleGround> and concludes:
"Because I believe in high academic standards, because I believe in planning every lesson to pass on the maximum amount of knowledge, because I believe in creating an academic culture in schools built on attracting the academically successful into teaching, I oppose PRP, deregulating pay, pension changes and removing the workload agreements. That’s why I voted to strike and that’s why I won’t be in work today."
I do think that it is important to continue to raise standards in our schools; there is still 'bad teaching' (I'm reluctant to say there are 'bad teachers' as often particular circumstances result in people being labelled 'bad teachers' and I'm not sure they always are!) and some of the ideals that Gove puts forward do have some sense. However they get lost because they are implemented in the wrong way, by deregulating everything, how are these changes even going to be implemented and assessed? I completely agree with Andrew Old that some of the pay and conditions changes Gove suggests will do the exactly the opposite.
So we are left with lots of reasons for striking. I hope 'the public' look into some of the background before labeling teachers as 'work-shy, slackers, money-grabbers' etc. I can bet that most teachers will still work more hours in the week with a day of strike action than many others. I also hope those striking do go and join a march, not just sit at home and put up a Facebook status about watching Jeremy Kyle with a cup of tea.
What would I do? I'd like to see a major day of protest on a Saturday or Sunday. Every teacher in the land descending on a London park and show Gove we care about our professional, our students and the future of education in this country and we won't take it these changes lying down.
I love my job and I honestly just want the best for my students and I will do anything to give them the best education I can.