Half of borough’s schools expected to close for teachers’ strike

GENE BRODIE, education correspondent, on the likely impact of next month’s industrial action by the National Education Union

Do the math: Croydon’s teachers are backing the NEU strike action

At least half of Croydon’s state schools will close for the day on Wednesday, February 1.

Most of the others will offer a reduced timetable and many of these will see demonstrations of teachers handing out leaflets and making their case to students, parents and colleagues as part of a national teachers’ strike across England and Wales.

After the NEU, the National Education Union, announced that it had met the threshold for strike action this week, Dave Harvey, one of the NEU’s two district secretaries for Croydon, said that, whereas in England as a whole 53per cent of union members had voted in the strike ballot and in Wales, 58per cent, in Croydon the figure was 74per cent.

Given that votes across the country were above 90per cent in favour of strike action, Harvey feels confident that two-thirds of Croydon NEU members have expressed a positive willingness to strike.

“We have members in every single school in Croydon,” Harvey said.

“We expect at least half the schools will close. Last time, headteachers took the attitude that if half the staff were on strike, they would close.”

Closing classrooms: Croydon’s schools will be hard hit by next month’s strike

Not all of the thousands of striking teachers will be handing out leaflets outside Croydon school gates. The NEU is also sending members up to Westminster to demonstrate to those in power.

Will the government listen? If not, there are more strikes planned, a day of strikes in Wales, then the north of England, then the Midlands, and then the South and Greater London, including Croydon, on March 2, all designed to keep the strike on the front pages at least cost to members. If the government still isn’t inclined to negotiate, then more strikes are planned for March 15 (Budget day!) and 16.

But why are teachers striking in the first place? It is a familiar story. Ask any nurse, any railway worker, post office worker, any university lecturer, any key worker at all, and they will tell you how the government is crippling the service they work for, starving it of funds and, in the process, pushing as much as possible of the burden of cuts on to the employees and service users.

Short-changed: teachers have seen the value of their pay cut by 25% since 2010

Teachers in state schools have seen the value of their wages fall by more than a quarter since 2010, following years of austerity wage “rises”, typically of around 1per cent. This year’s 5per cent offer – Harvey dismisses that nomenclature: “Let’s just call it what it is, an imposition” – is not fully funded by the government, either.

So if schools are to meet their obligation to pay their staff the increase, they will have to make cuts in other areas – fewer support staff, say, or less heating, or bigger class sizes.

Harvey is clear on this: it is the government that is prejudicing young people’s education through years of neglect and underfunding, not the odd one-day strike by teachers.

Meanwhile, the Metro newspaper parrots the usual lazy tropes: “Feb 1 Strike Hell – It’s one out all out”, a hysterical reaction to the fact that on the first day of February, not only teachers but rail workers, university lecturers and civil servants will all be out on strike.

It goes on to quote Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accusing union leaders of wanting to “grind Britain to a halt”.

What next? “Teachers holding our kids’ education to ransom”? It is laughable.

Teachers, health workers, railway workers, these are all people who worked throughout the pandemic, adapting and adjusting, accepting the flexibility imposed by real life. These are not the people who are damaging our NHS, our education system or our transport system.

These are the people who are trying to save them.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Half of borough’s schools expected to close for teachers’ strike

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accusing union leaders of wanting to “grind Britain to a halt”.
    Welcome to the world of make believe.

    With respects if you fail to oil the wheels of a machine it grinds to a halt.

    In Britain – May failed, Johnson seriously failed, Truss failed and managed drop the economy of a cliff without even a dead cat bounce!

    With respect it appears to be the Public sector workers doubling up their effort and performance, without recognition or gratitude just meaningless platitudes from the Conservative party and a whole lot of empty words that has papered over the gaping canyons for so long that they are exhausted.

    At this stage even Newman could not have trashed the Country as bad as the Conservative Party and apparantly he did a sterling job of the double down of idiocy locally
    What happened to the Conservatives? They used to have credibility on many topic’s now its rampant jingoism, lies, criminal behaviours and contempt for people in general.

    This is not the Thatcher era with nutty Trades Unionists. Few take much notice of that shitty propaganda today – like the crap spouted by Tory Mayors and MPs thinking to follow the extremists hymn sheets like the bully boys in the school playground.
    Seriously Mr Sunak – Grow up and grow a pair Yes we all know we are broke and in trouble. We all know that borrowing is going to heap burdens on us – but we also know that our greatest asset is whwn as a Nation we come together.

    So take your party and it’s think tanks and radical splinter gangs by the scruff of the neck and tell it to think of the Country and it’s future and work on uniting the nation to get through this world crisis. If they wont get – help cross bench and have unifying policies not slander and stupidity.

    Otherwise with the greatest respect Foxtrot Oscar!

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