May you teach in interesting times…

Pensions, regional pay agreements, the costs of setting up free schools and academies and perceived ‘privatisation creep’ – these are just some of the issues that have riled teachers, and could mean more industrial action during the summer term.

Cost of academies & free schools

As well as the bitter ongoing dispute over pensions – unions say changes will mean they’ll pay more, work longer and get less at a time when the top rate of tax is being cut – teachers have also recently singled out the government’s academies and free schools programme for criticism, claiming it will create a “chaotic and unaccountable education system”.

“It is quite extraordinary that in these times of cut backs and austerity the government has found £337.2 million to support its academies and free schools programme. Free schools represent a tiny proportion of England’s schools yet there are 126 full time junior staff and seven senior Department for Education (DfE) staff working on the programme. Free schools are absorbing an increasing proportion of DfE staff resources at a time when the Department as a whole is shrinking,” said Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers

“It is hard to see how the education secretary can justify spending tax payers’ money in this way. Evidence does not show that academies or free schools will raise standards.”

Pupils ‘at mercy of the market’

Meanwhile a motion debating the “casualisation of the workforce” was discussed at the NASUWT annual conference. It claimed an agenda of privatisation is “undermining public confidence in schools and promoting job insecurity”.

“Reforms introduced by the coalition government are now creating a market free-for-all in education, which will be to the detriment of many, and the advantage of the few,” suggested Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary.

“All of the independent evidence confirms that marketisation does not deliver better educational outcomes for pupils, but costs more money and creates widespread inequality and social segregation.”

Do you see a growing “marketisation” in education? And what’s your view of general morale amongst the education workforce? We’d love to hear your views.

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