Response to Gove letter – why you have to strike and why you have to march tomorrow

Mr Gove’s letter shows how little he listens to the concerns of teachers and how little progress has been made in the talks process. His letter confirms why we are right to strike.

The secretary of state has attended none of the talks, nor have other ministers. The talks are with civil servants who are forbidden by Mr Gove from straying into areas of policy. The talks are only allowed to discuss how Mr Gove’s policies are implemented.

Nevertheless NUT has participated fully in the talks because we will use any avenue to seek improvements for teachers and thereby to defend education.

However, far from listening Michael Gove has rejected many of the suggestions the unions have jointly put forward.

For example we asked him to:

Continue to publish the pay spine points as a shadow list that schools could use if they wanted. He has said he won’t.

Say that pay portability is normal so that Governors wouldn’t need evidence to justify it. He has refused.

Say that governors should set a budget so that no eligible teacher would be refused pay progression on budgetary grounds. Again he has refused.

Advise Governors that all teachers should get the STRB’s 1% pay rise from this September. Again a refusal.

In areas where Mr Gove says his civil servants will do some more work his response is utterly inadequate.

For example the unions jointly said Government should advise schools that teachers should only need the evidence that comes from the appraisal process to earn pay progression. Instead his letter says schools should balance the “need for robust evidence with the need for proportionality when preparing for appraisal and pay decisions”. This formulation will not drive down unnecessary workload in the way teachers and education need.

The NUT will of course participate in the ongoing discussions on the “impact of schools’ response to the accountability system on teacher workload”. But this joint study will not ease pressures unless Mr Gove accepts that the pressures are not created “in school” – but by the systems outside schools that he promotes.

Further we are very disappointed that Mr Gove has refused the joint unions requests for some immediate action on teacher workload. He has refused

A letter to heads advising them they should not ask for planning to be handed in, unless there was a specific concern about the teacher, given the extra bureaucracy and unnecessary workload that is causing in many schools
Immediate advice to schools that they should not be asking for the generality of teachers for evidence that they meet the “teacher standards” given the evidence that heads already have from the appraisal process, observations and student results.

Mr Gove even refused the joint union request for a an extra INSET day or even a ring fenced CPD budget to allow schools and teachers to prepare for the new curriculum and the removal of levels from this September, despite the recent evidence of long teachers working hours from the DFE’s own survey.

The NUT will also participate in the “joint study into the health and deployment implications of teachers working to 68, with the aim of considering what more can be done to support teachers working to this age”. But this falls far below our demands that Mr Gove should publish the pension valuation and then negotiate seriously.

Mr Gove must change direction or a serious teacher shortage will develop that will be extremely bad for schools and the children they serve.

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