NUT industrial action over academisation expected

Teachers could take industrial action over the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies.

Teachers are expected to vote for a campaign of industrial action opposing the government’s plan to make all schools academies by 2022.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has confirmed that a priority motion calling for opposition to the white paper is likely to be discussed at their conference in Brighton this weekend.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak at the conference this afternoon and will tell delegates that the government’s push for academies and free schools would lead to the “asset -stripping of our education system”.

If the union does decide to take action over forced academisation, it will focus on the “big challenge” to teachers’ pay and conditions, the NUT leadership confirmed.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said: “There is no evidence that autonomy in pay is a good thing. It’s bad for teachers’ pay and conditions.

“We think there is a dispute around those questions, which isn’t necessarily tied up with the ins and outs of the white paper.”

Other education unions may also work together to oppose the white paper. “We think there is a need for us to speak to other support staff unions and teaching unions,” Mr Courtney added.

Christine Blower. NUT general secretary, said: “We think we have caught the mood of the fact that people think this is just the wrong thing to be doing. I think we genuinely believe that there is both very wide and very deep opposition to this.”

Mr Corbyn’s speech at the NUT conference in Brighton today comes despite a long-standing rule that politicans are not invited to speak. The union says it made an exception for the current Labour leader because he had asked to appear.

This afternoon Mr Corbyn will say: “George Osborne used the Budget to announce the forced academisation of all schools. This is an ideological attack on teachers and on local and parental accountability – an attack which was nowhere in their manifesto at the last general election.

“The Tories want to shut parents out of a say in how their children’s schools are run. I want schools accountable to their parents and their communities – not to those pushing to be first in line for the asset-stripping of our education system.”

He will add: “There is a crisis in our schools now … Children are facing rising class sizes; there is a shortage of teachers, and parents already face a crisis in school places.

“The forced academisation will do nothing to address any of those problems. And yet £700 million will need to be found to fund this needless reorganisation… that fails to address a single issue that matters to teachers, parents or pupils.

He is likely to be given a warmer welcome than Estelle Morris, who was heckled and slow hand clapped by delegates in 2002 when she was the last Labour education secretary to speak at an NUT conference.

The Government’s plans to force all schools in England to turn into academies have come under fire from Labour, the unions and Conservatives in local government who will be stripped of the power to run schools in their areas.

Speaking to the press this afternoon, Ms Blower added that there are also a number of Tory councillors who “don’t think it’s the right thing to do”, as well as teachers who work in academies already.

She added: “The more voices the greater the pressure on government to rethink it.”

The NUT’s business committee will meet this afternoon to decide whether the motion will be discussed at their conference in Brighton this weekend.

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