Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Gove's war on teaching unions posted by Richard SeymourForgot to post up my last piece from the Guardian, which was about the government's latest attacks on teaching unions:
If the education secretary didn't exist, how would we invent him? With a compound of arrogance, spite, Thatcherite zeal and incompetence. Days after the government hit teachers with the abolition of their collective bargaining rights, Michael Gove has written to headteachers urging them to dock teachers' pay as punishment for participating in a "work-to-rule" action.
Very much adopting the tone of a school snitch, Gove eggs headteachers on, assuring them that both law and ethics are on their side, and that it will protect "the pupils, parents, teachers and headteachers who would otherwise suffer".
It's worth examining this claim. In September, the NUT and NASUWT agreed to embark on action short of strikes to resist threats to their members' conditions. They said that strikes were held in reserve where management either did not accept the action or attempted to victimise teachers but, as yet, strike action has not taken place. The action involves refusing certain bureaucratic tasks such as lesson observations or mock Ofsted inspections. Instead, they focus on their professional role as teachers. This may be a minor inconvenience for certain headteachers, but the idea that pupils or (heaven forfend) their parents suffer from such action is hardly credible.
Gove's office says that he is responding to an appeal from a headteacher for advice. He may be referring to the head of Stratford Academy, who in October threatened to cut teachers' pay for participating in action short of a strike to oppose attacks on teaching conditions. As the wary response from the National Association of Head Teachers suggests, headteachers are as a rule not interested in such a strategy. Not only that, but they have been sceptical to hostile regarding the government's proposed changes. Thus, Gove's intervention can be seen as an attempt to use the government's authority to back up a belligerent, union-busting minority among headteachers...