NUT strike ballot, performance management & teachers' payscale, Gove and O-levels
Back after a break for job-hunting, and the things that I complain about in the blog, being the things that mean I didn't have time to write the blog! But this was important enough for me to bother my arse ;)
NUT workload strike ballot
NUT members have just received their ballot for discontinuous strike action, and action short of a strike, over pay and conditions. Although after the London-only teacher strike on March 28th there was rumours of a national June 28th strike over pensions, it seems there's no danger of that now. The ballot closes September 6th, so any top-down national action, whether it's pay or pensions, will be autumn at earliest.
The NUT seems to think that if they can get a YES vote they'll be able to persuade the NASUWT to come out too. Using each other as an excuse for doing nothing is what has lead the pensions dispute down the shitter. Goes without saying I'll be voting YES, but it's worth highlighting how previous YES votes have been ignored by union leadership. Despite a still-applicable pensions strike YES vote last year, teachers nationally were still ignored by union-bureaucrats and told not to come out on March 28th with London teachers, despite indicating by 73% in a stupid little survey that we still wanted to strike.
This disregard for members views has lead many of my colleagues to have really low morale with regards the pension struggle. Most aren't even worried about pensions anymore, as they're more worried about getting sacked in the next year or two, I'll explain why.
Performance management & teachers' payscale
The new Ofsted framework which I've moaned about before, places even more pressure on teachers to 'perform' for the powers that be. By stripping away 'satisfactory' - a word that has a dictionary definition; 'fulfilling all demands and requirements' - and replacing it with 'requires improvement', teachers will be forced to justify their wage should they not be deemed 'good' or 'outstanding'.
Now, how will this affect teaching workers? As well as the stress of observations and being judged by managers who spend as little time in the classroom as they physically can, it will be used to assess teacher wage progression.
Currently, teachers have a national pay-scale (not applicable in academies, though many still follow it anyway, but could change it at any time). The scale, like any, has newest/youngest teachers on a lower wage (low-20k per/year region, depending on whether they're in London or not), rise through M1-M6 - this is the main scale; by M6 you roughly get 10-12 grand a year more in salary. Then a teacher can jump to 'upper-pay' spine which takes them to high 30k pay bracket.
Obviously, the scale is problematic - it separates young/old and inexperienced/experienced in pay terms. Our criticism however, is very different from the attacks currently proposed. Now, the new Ofsted framework, performance management, and the salary scale are to be linked. How will this work?
Our head is barely hides his contempt for older teachers, and other schools like academies have notoriously young staff. Why? Old teachers are expensive, have kids, and are 'stuck in their ways', and, I shit you not, 'not value for money'. In contrast, young teachers are cheap. 'dynamic' and malleable (i.e. don't know any better).
If a school wants to save money, and has a lot of older staff, they will want rid of those pesky older staff who cost a lot, remember unions, and have to leave early to pick up kids. A head with money problems will think:
'I could have TWO new teachers for that price!'
So they will use performance management to target anyone they want rid of, be it for financial reasons, or possibly if they are 'trouble-makers'. Give someone a bad observation, then give them another, and another, and you can put them on 'capability' procedures. Everyone knows what this means, and everyone dreads it. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy - tell someone they're SHIT enough times (whether they objectively are or not), treat them as such, undermine their confidence, and they will begin to feel, and act, a bit shit. Do this enough, and eventually you'll have ground to get rid of them, and hire a newer, younger, cheaper worker.
Even if they don't necessarily want rid of someone, they can use observation judgements to deny salary progression. Not deemed 'good'? Fine, your pay won't go up next year.
The new Ofsted framework, linked to pay progression, and capability, will further divide old and young teachers, and worst of all, result in exactly the sort of parity we don't want - everyone on the lowest pay possible for the job.
Gove, Roman Numerals and O-levels
What the fuck can I say here? Gove wants all primary kids to be able to count in Roman numerals - to be fair, I'd never have known that ROCKY V was the one to avoid if it wasn't for my Da explaining roman numerals when I was 8. Rocky IV is the best anyway.
And O-levels? Well they did it in THE OLDEN DAYS so it must be good.
This man, Gove, who has never been an education worker, has his FINGER ON THE FUCKING PULSE.