We report on the NUT strike demonstrations.
Rob reports: Up to 10,000 teachers joined a young and lively demonstration through central London. NUT strikes have a tradition of large political demonstrations on strike days and today was no exception. The size and energy of the demo showed the continuing desire for a fight back amongst a large majority of NUT activists
Amy reports: Primary school children lead the march of around 250 people through the city to a rally at the Guildhall. Anger at Gove, changes to the curriculum and the regime of testing in schools was strongly articulated in the chants. Workload was the other key issue for teachers; several repeated the familiar tale of 70hr working weeks. Richard Rose, a primary school teacher who spoke at the rally, emphasised the damaging impact that such long hours has on the education of children. Teachers have no quality time to spend with children, and find themselves having to run down corridors just to have time to fit everything in. The rally heard solidarity greetings from health workers and NUJ and UCU activists. For some NUT members there was disappointment that NASWUT hadn’t joined in the strike this time, and that some schools were able to remain fully or partially open.
Colin reports: Up to 2000 took part in a big, cheerfully militant demo in Manchester.
John and Nick report: Around 300 teachers and their supporters marched through the centre of Oxford at lunchtime. The demonstration was led by a samba band and was very enthusiastic. About 100 schools were closed today. Oxfordshire has around 219 schools, including academies and free schools. Some of the schools that were working “normally” were doing so because of extraordinary measures by heads. One primary school teacher said her school was closed today, as it had been on the last strike day. But she fears it may be harder next time as the school is about to be forced to become an academy: “We’re told that we’re going to be made an academy. There’s been no consultation because they’ve put us under special measures because we refused to become academy. The government has just decided that’s what’s going to happen.” This will mean managers from other schools can come in to cover striking teachers. Her children are at a secondary school where this is happening. They are sat today in combined classrooms with over 60 other children. Teachers speaking to the public were pleased with the support from parents and children. One Year 7 said, “It’s good they’re fighting for their rights. You’ve got to fight, don’t you?”
Linda reports: The demonstration of 800 people in Bristol was bigger and livelier than the demos I’ve seen recently. It wasn’t the usual lefty outing – in fact quite the opposite. It was predominantly young teachers, parents and kids. The mood was very lively and vibrant and took a longer route than usual. It was also supported by SW TUC and the Trades Council which is unusual. The speeches at the end were much more upbeat, dynamic even. The trend was blame the other unions for not supporting, that this is just the beginning and we will win.
Dan reports: Over 60 schools across Norfolk were affected by strike action, with many closing completely. 3-400 teachers braved the rain to join a rally in front of the Forum in Norwich city centre. One teacher addressing the rally asked “What good is an English teacher who has no free time to read, or a PE teacher who has no free time to practice sport? How can you have happy teachers if they have no time to spend with their family?”. The rally also heard speakers from UCU, Unison and PCS, as well as from Norfolk People’s Assembly and a local anti-academy campaign. Whilst there was a lot of frustration that the NUT was striking alone, activists noted that the rally was at least as big as the one for the last strike, despite the absence of NASUWT. Nick O’Brien, Campaigns Co-ordinator for Norfolk NUT said: “I’m really happy with the turnout today. I’m on strike because I want teaching to be a profession that people rush to join. Currently, 40% of teachers quit in their first five years and teacher suicide rates have risen 60%. The way we work currently is not sustainable or fair. Every child deserves a happy, valued and qualified teacher.”
S Jerome reports: 800 joined the NUT rally in Birmingham. Turnout was good and lots of people mentioned NASUWT members joining the NUT to be out today. The rally opened and closed with a band, and the march was vibrant and noisy.