A planned series of strikes by teaching unions in England and Wales risks damaging children’s learning, education secretary Michael Gove has said. The walkouts, which are being staged by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, will take place regionally in October and be followed by a one-day national strike later in the autumn term.
The action is being taken over salary freezes, rising workloads and higher pension contributions. Unions are also unhappy about the new system of performance-related pay in state schools, which will give heads freedom to set their own pay levels based on annual appraisals. However, Mr Gove has said the reforms are “common sense” and the strikes should be called off.
“The public does not support strike action and very few teachers actually voted for it. The union leadership need to put their ideology to one side and put children and parents first,” he said. A recent Populus survey of 1,700 people revealed that 61 per cent support performance-related pay, with 29 per cent saying salaries should be determined by pupils’ exam results. Just over a third said teachers should not be allowed to strike.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “If we do not take a stand now to defend the profession, then the consequences for teacher recruitment and education will be disastrous for all.”