December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Hundreds of teachers from around the region gathered in Norwich this lunchtime for a ‘defending education’ rally.
Students and parents joined members of the teaching unions who are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay, pensions, working conditions and jobs and are calling for education secretary Michael Gove to agree to a summit meeting.
The teaching unions say they are protesting against a two-year pay freeze for teachers, proposals to make teachers work until they are aged 68, increases in pensions contributions and heavy workloads due to inspections and bureaucracy.
Among the speakers at the rally was 14-year-old Myhren Nierop, from north Norwich, who attends Aylsham High School.
She said: “I’m supporting the strike because of what the teachers have done for me and other students. They try and do their best for us. I want to be a teacher when I leave school.”
Myhren’s mother Ellen Nierop said she trusted the teachers to have the children’s interests at heart.
She said: “I trust them to do the best for the education system and for the pupils; I don’ trust the government.
“They are striking for the future of education, not for money. I think the majority of parents support what the teachers are doing, because they trust them with their children every day.”
Patrick Neale, vice-chairman of the governors at Lionwood infant and nursery school in Norwich, was also supporting the striking teachers.
He said: “What Michael Gove is doing is disgraceful. I work with teachers every day and I’m impressed by the amount of work they do and how dedicated they are. I’m appalled at the way they are being treated, particularly by Michael Gove and this government.”
Teachers from the special Clare School in Norwich, who did not wish to give their names, said they were striking to keep their pay and conditions and pensions.
One teacher said: “We are also thinking about what teaching is going to be like in the future. Teachers won’t be encouraged to come into the profession.
“We already work incredibly long hours, and they are talking about increasing our days.”
Daisy Haynes, a teacher at City Academy in Norwich, said members of the public should support the teachers, because what the government was doing would affect their children.
“It will affect the quality of education in the future, and no-one will want to be a teacher,” she said.
Member of the public Tom Sandland, from Norwich, said he was supporting the strike because the government’s plans would damage the teaching profession.
“If you damage teaching, then you damage education, and that in the long in will damage society,” he said.
In Norfolk 113 schools are closed or partially closed today, while in Suffolk around 60 are affected and 15 Fenland schools are also expected to be involved.
The strikes are being held by members of NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) and the NUT (National Union of Teachers), which make up around 90pc of union membership for teachers in the region.
Chrissie Smith, joint division secretary for the Norfolk NUT, said: “All we are asking for is for Mr Gove to meet round the table, listen and negotiate. Currently, he is ignoring these experts in education (and) children are becoming more stressed by constant changes to their curriculum, assessment and targets to aim for - making them feel that they will never be good enough.
“Excellent teachers are leaving the profession young through ‘burn-out’ trying to keep up with impossible demands for increased workload, extra planning and assessment marking etc.
“It is becoming more difficult to recruit and retain qualified teachers because they no longer wish to join what used to be a worthwhile and respected profession.”
The one-day strikes are being held today in the eastern region, as well as the East Midlands, West Midlands and in Yorkshire and Humber.
A Department of Education spokesman said: “It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government’s measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.”
The spokeswoman said a recent poll found that 61pc of those questioned backed linking teachers’ pay to performance and a majority were opposed to walkouts.
“All strikes will do is disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession,” she added.