September 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
About 200 flag waving and whistle blowing teachers, parents and supporters chanted “Hey ho, Michael Gove has got to go” at a lunchtime strike rally.
The group gathered outside The Forum at Norwich at noon to hear speeches as National Union of Teachers members held a one day strike in their dispute with the government about pay, pensions and conditions.
At least 77 schools in Norfolk, as well as dozens in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, are fully or partially closed today.
Bridget Williamson, an English teacher at Neatherd High School in Dereham, said: “You are looking at 50 to 60 hours a week. It means that term time is dominated by your teaching job. Like every teacher I love my job and I am absolutely passionate about it, but it does dominate.
“It does create stress. My children are grown up, but I don’t know how teachers with young families actually cope. It means working from 7.30am to 6pm every day, and working at the weekend as well.”
Unlike last year’s strike, only the NUT is taking industrial action, with the NASUWT opting not to take part.
Nick O’Brien, who also teaches at Neatherd High, told the crowd: “It’s a shame that the NASUWT are not out with us. I think it’s important that tomorrow when we go back to work we send a message to them that this was a really big rally and the people were behind us.”
He also led the rally in a chorus of boos for education secretary Michael Gove and Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.
Helen McGuinness, Norwich Secretary of the NUT, told the rally that the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers would mean that test results would decide whether a teacher could afford their rent or mortgage payments. She also reiterated concerns about workload and stress.
A Department for Education spokesman has said parents will “struggle to understand” why the NUT was pressing ahead with its strike.
A spokesman said: “They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.
“Despite this constructive engagement with their concerns, the NUT is taking action that will disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”
Are you affected by the strike? What do you think? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org