“The Secretary of State needs to take seriously the very deep concerns and anger of teachers and school leaders."
I read this quote on Twitter (which as you know I'm a huge advocate of - follow our school @Phoenix_Ashford) in the context of NASUWT and NUT announcing National Strike action in the Autumn Term.
Obviously, there are teachers out there who are very angry about what Chris Keates terms the 'relentless attack on the teaching profession.' After all, 82% of the 40% turnout voted for industrial action (for the non-Maths specialists amongst you, this equates to 32.8% of the NASUWT membership) - not an insignificant minority.
So, having read this quote, I reflected on what it was about my job that made me angry.
Was I angry that I hadn't had a pay rise? Quite frankly no - I know too many people who have lost their jobs during the economic downturn to complain.
Was I angry about the 'attack' on my pensions? Not particularly, I still consider my pension to be quite generous compared to some of the private pension schemes I have looked in to.
Was I angry about my workload? Not at all. Yes, I work harder than I used to - but I make sure that my work is purposeful. I feel that what I do benefits the children in my care. So what exactly was it about my job that does make me angry?
I get angry when I find out that a child has been identified as underachieving but nothing has been put in place for the past year. I get angry when a statutory assessment is refused on the grounds that we are currently meeting a child's educational needs with no regard for the fact that he will be starting secondary education in a matter of months and he will fail without the necessary support. I get angry when there's not enough money for pencils but somehow always seems to be enough for cakes and biscuits at the governors meetings.
In short, I get angry when the needs of the children, who we are paid to educate and look after, do not get met because of ineffective systems, incompetence or sheer laziness.
Some people obviously feel that strike action is justified. That's a decision that each individual will have to arrive at themselves. What I would ask is this: when was the last time that the unions called for industrial action because of an outcry over child protection or educational policy?
I can never imagine myself striking; and if I ever were to, it would certainly not be on the basis of my pay, pension or workload. It would be because I felt there was something inherently wrong which was damaging our children. Any other justification is pure selfishness.
This post was originally written for the Kent Teach Blog on 15th July 2013.