NUT teachers at John Roan School in Greenwich took strike action on Tuesday, 10 November over their working conditions. In their words, they have “an unsustainable workload alongside excessive monitoring and scrutiny of our work”. A local trade unionist reports from the picket line.
“It’s important we take this action as I’ve seen the effects at other schools, ” says the teacher holding out a petition board for passers by at John Roan School this morning.
The picket line is already twice as big as for previous national strikes when I arrive at 7.45am. The teachers are vocal and passionate about why they are striking. “I give everything to the school and when I get home there’s nothing left,” one of the group of PE teachers tells me.
Most teachers at the school are in the National Union of Teachers and they are taking this action locally whilst knowing that the issues of over work, excessive monitoring and management scrutiny originate from the Department of Education and the Government.
More locals join the picket, bringing biscuits and sweets in solidarity. One hands out leaflets for the performance by Banner Theatre “Chicago: The Great Teachers Strike” which is being showing locally on November 28th.
“Things were difficult before but since the new Head came things have become unsustainable,” says another teacher.
The teachers don’t accept that the policies the managers wish to impose will help the students and instead say, “By valuing teachers… we improve the conditions for learning.”
The pupils have been passing round a letter to the governors fully in support of the teachers taking action. The letter states with irony, “The Head Teacher has a well-deserved, stunning record… at the cost of 38 teaching staff at her old school. It will be a real shame if some of the school’s best teachers leave at the cost of government statistics vs. actual learning.” And concludes, “… you are not in that classroom with us. You do not see the stress we see. Just listen.”
Last night a meeting of parents took the school’s Headteacher and Chair of Governors to task and clearly showed that many parents are deeply concerned that the changes are having a detrimental effect on our children’s education.
The teachers have taken a great stance today and have begun to build community support. As one of the teachers says, “We are happy to negotiate, but we will continue to take action if we need to.”
Support the strike
The teachers will be out on strike again next week – they need your support!