Teacher strike closes schools in Hackney in fight to ‘protect education’

Members of NUT and NASUWT at Victoria Square, Birmingham, during a one day strike on October 1 by t

Members of NUT and NASUWT at Victoria Square, Birmingham, during a one day strike on October 1 by thousands of teachers across four English regions about pay, pensions and working conditions. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Most schools across Hackney will close today as teachers join a national strike over changes they say threaten the future of education.

Teachers are concerned at proposals by education secretary Michael Gove to allow individual schools to set teachers’ salaries and promotion criteria, increase the retirement age to 68, get teachers to pay a bigger proportion of their salaries into their pensions, increase the length of the school day and reduce school holidays.

Gove’s proposals also mean teachers moving to another school would not automatically get the same wage.

Teachers say they are deeply concerned about the impact these proposed changes would having on the morale of the teaching profession, the recruitment and retention of teachers and the provision of quality education for pupils.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), which represent more than three quarters of teaching professionals, have reached an impasse with Mr Gove.

Jamie Duff, Hackney NUT spokesman, said: “The attack on our pay and conditions is a direct attack on education and the children we teach. This government is gradually trying to privatise education and for them to succeed they must deregulate teaching – we will not let that happen.

Madeleine Davis, of Victoria Park, whose child attends BSix College in Kenninghall Road, Clapton, is one of the parents that supports the strike.

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She said: “This government is always justifying the excessive pay of bankers on the basis that you have to pay well to attract the best, yet when it comes to teachers it seems to be all stick and no carrot.

“They are even trying to undermine teachers’ professional status by allowing unqualified staff into schools.

“If they undermine the pay and conditions of teachers it will be the quality of our childrens’ education that will suffer.”

Jed Fewtrell, a student at BSix College, added: “My teachers work really hard and I think the pay and conditions in which they work are really important. “I am 100 per cent behind them.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said the decision is “disappointing”.