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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 February 2022

Perfect storm brewing in education

Workers at Oaks Park who took strike action against bullying and victimisation

Workers at Oaks Park who took strike action against bullying and victimisation   (Click to enlarge)

An National Education Union (NEU) rep teaching in north London

There is a perfect storm brewing in education. Frustration over the issues of workload and pay will come to a head.

The pandemic has given an excuse to managers to up productivity and intensify labour, and in schools that means an increased workload for all staff. When school students are self-isolating, or are off school because they have tested positive for Covid, they are expected to keep up with their school work. For teachers this means either making sure students have access to online learning resources for their lessons, or live-streaming their lesson to the absent students, while teaching the rest of the class face-to-face.

In my college, and hundreds of schools across England, we have the additional burden of being graded as 'requires improvement' by schools inspectorate Ofsted. Schools in the most deprived areas of the country are far more likely to be rated this (27%) than those schools in the least deprived areas (11%).

This Ofsted grade affects possible future government funding. So senior managers have decided that they can use this as an excuse to implement what they want, when they want. Specifically, this means classroom visits every half-term; weekly one-size-fits-all online training; fortnightly recording of student progress, which have usually already been recorded separately in your mark book and on a spreadsheet; half-termly target setting; constant checking and rechecking by middle-managers that you have done something they have asked you to do. All of this because senior managers are trying to second-guess what Ofsted inspectors are 'looking for' when they finally get round to visiting your school.

And performance-related pay is still going strong in schools. So, as well as having to spend time doing additional administrative tasks, I have to write a statement citing everything that I do in my job against a 12-point checklist, and justifying why I 'deserve' a pay rise. Neither of which help me to actually raise the understanding of the students I teach, which is what I actually want to do and why I joined the profession in the first place.

At the same time, there is growing resentment and anger at the pay freeze: "We work all the hours of the day and night and we're not even getting recognition through a pay rise."

The Tories claim they are trying to help students who have lost out on education because of the pandemic through their 'catch-up' programme. But this is the same government which has a target to bring education funding to the same level it was in 2010, by 2024. There will be a generation of students who have known nothing but education poverty in their lifetime. We need full funding for education now.

We have to find a way to get rid of Ofsted - there is zero trust in the professional judgement of teachers, by either the government or senior managers. We need to get rid of performance-related pay - it is divisive and soul-destroying. And we need to build the NEU's campaign for an 8% pay rise for all education workers. The fight on pay is immediate: it is one where a collective national fight can be won. A victory over pay would lift confidence to turn back the tide on workload, performance pay and Ofsted.

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In The Socialist 9 February 2022:


TUSC

No one in Westminster backs a pay rise for us...

Preparing for the council and Erdington elections


News

Cut our fuel bills - nationalise energy

'I'm dreading trying to live on a nurse's salary'

Cuts created NHS waiting list crisis

Oxfam 'Inequality Kills' report

Tories' 'levelling up' falls well short

Tories' 'partygate' crisis continues - kick them out


What we think

Catastrophic energy bill hike - a crisis made by capitalism


Workplace news

Force back Serco and Barts management!

Support the university strikes!

Tesco slashes jobs and customer service

Just Eat couriers drive chief exec out of town as strike spreads

Scunthorpe scaffs mark 100 days of strike action with protests

Perfect storm brewing in education

PCS consultative pay and conditions ballot - vote 'Yes'


Campaigns news

King's student union refuses to back staff strike and NUS walkout

A socialist voice in Stanwell North

Tamil Solidarity protest against repressive Sri Lankan regime

Socialist Party youth meeting: Mood is changing - socialist ideas growing

Swansea Trades Council pledges to fight local government cuts

The Socialist: 25 years of assisting workers' struggles and fighting for socialism


International news

Pro-market Socialist Party wins Portugal's election


Debate

Does the fight for Trans rights conflict with women's rights?


 

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Related links:

Education:

triangleFighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

triangleTories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history

triangle"If we don't fight, we won't win!"

triangleNEU strike at girls' school chain over pensions

triangleWhy I'm going to Socialist Students conference

Pay:

triangleTV review: This is Going to Hurt

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleUniversity workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

triangleTube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

Students:

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleCampaigning to make 2 March student walkout happen

triangleKing's student union refuses to back staff strike and NUS walkout

Schools:

triangleOaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools

triangleCovid, stress and cutbacks fuel school staff shortages

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