SCHOOLS will face a wave of strikes if the new government fails to plug the funding gap, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) warned yesterday.
The stark consequences of Tory “flat cash” funding proposals and an end to a national insurance exemption enjoyed by schools were the subject of a motion at the NUT’s national conference.
But the union rejected a third attempt by a section of its membership to secure a commitment to an “ongoing calendar of national strike action” starting in the autumn, albeit by a more narrow majority.
Speaking after the funding motion was passed, NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Teachers and students have been hit hard by the cuts. Teachers have seen job losses, worsening working conditions and restrictions on pay progression.
“Many serving teachers have been driven out of the profession and many potential recruits to teaching lost.
“We need a first-class education system to support economic recovery.
“The NUT has today called for the restoration of education funding to the levels required to support this vital investment in our future, including improved pay and conditions to reverse the growing teacher recruitment and retention problem.”
But another motion heard yesterday suggested that the union’s current campaigns on pay, pensions and workload had “failed to sufficiently protect teachers and education in the way the union and its members would have wanted it to.”
It called for “clear demands,” and, like an amendment unsuccessfully proposed during Saturday’s workload debate, a strike day in October and two in November.
But such action was opposed by the NUT leadership.
Successfully proposing an amendment which removed critical references and strike commitments, NUT executive member Amanda Martin said: “Just saying we’ve failed is an absolute insult to teachers.”
But Lewisham delegate Duncan Morrison brought it back to classroom principles.
“It’s not helpful if a child has not met a learning objective to say they have met it,” he teased.
Southwark delegate Katherine Harris said that the amendment would “cynically take the teeth out of the motion.
“Our members are demoralised … it’s very hard to get them to take industrial action,” she said.