Lancaster to host major teacher’s strike

Sam Ud-din
Sam Ud-din

A major strike and march against the government’s education White Paper is due to take place in Lancaster next week.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) will lead a national strike, with teachers, headteachers, parents and children from Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn-with-Darwen and Cumbria expected to meet in Dalton Square on July 5.

They are protesting against academisation, cuts to school budgets, pupil testing and teacher workloads.

The strike follows a day of action on May 3, when parents kept their children off school in protest against SATs testing.

Headteachers across the district also made a stand over “poor and ill-conceived” new tests which they say test children way beyond their reach and experience.

One parent said schools have become an “exam factory”.

San Ud-Din, Lancashire Division Secretary for the NUT, said education was “in a mess”.

But education secretary Nicky Morgan said the government “will put children and parents first...set high expectations for every child, ensuring that there are no forgotten groups or areas and we will focus on outcomes.”

She said this would include a move towards every school becoming an academy, “to ensure the profession has the tools it needs to succeed: improving teacher training and qualifications and ensuring a strong, diverse pipeline of leaders”.

But Mr Ud-Din said the government would like to blame pupils, parents, head teachers and teachers for problems in education, and was “putting the blame in the wrong place” by forcing schools to become academies.

He said: “The government and George Osbourne have decided that they will not increase funding for education.

“The per head amount is staying the same, but all the increasing costs are not being covered. The pitiful one per cent pay rise is not being covered, increased running costs, National Insurance and the new minimum wage are not being covered and this has to be found from budgets within schools. Schools are financially much worse off and they’re having to lay off teachers, with subjects being 
withdrawn from curriculums.

“All of this is taking time, effort and energy away from headteachers, who cannot focus on the education of children, and this is not what parents want.”

Mr Ud-din also said teacher workloads will increase and jobs, terms and conditions and pay levels will be at risk.

He added: “Lancaster and Morecambe has been very active. Parents have been fantastic in supporting their children against SATs. Teachers have been at the forefront of much of the campaign to ensure that SATs will not happen next year and there will now be no base line testing for four year olds in September.” The day of action starts at 11am with a march through Lancaster afterwards.

Parents and pupils are invited to attend, and there will be activities for children following the march.