Support the NUT strike

// 24 April 2008

OK so I know this isn’t really a feminist story, although 87% of primary and 57% of secondary school teachers are women, but the BBC News coverage of the NUT‘s strike action today has absolutely enraged me. Rather than focusing on the NUT’s demands or teacher dissatisfaction, they blathered on and on about what a terrible disruption the strike had been to parents, businesses and pupils. IT’S ONE FUCKING DAY! One day is not going to make a difference to pupils’ performance in exams, it is not going to destroy a family’s livelihood, it is not going to bring a cafe which relies on local schools for lunchtime custom to its knees. In fact, the claims that businesses had lost money were frankly ludicrous – Sheffield city centre was full of teenagers out shopping this afternoon.

The proposed pay increase for teachers is below the rate of inflation, meaning it actually amounts to a pay cut. Anyone who has any contact with teachers or those who work in schools will know that teachers work ridiculously hard, a situation which isn’t helped by New Labour’s obsession with planning and targets. Teachers at the primary school where my mum is a teaching assistant actually have to take one afternoon off every week to plan, leaving TAs to take lessons – which they are of course capable of doing, but they are unqualified and expected to do so on a pay increase that only applies for the hours they spend teaching.

And having said this isn’t really a feminist issue, the vast majority of TAs are women – another example of women’s work being undervalued?

Anyway, rant over, I return you to feminist service as normal.

Comments From You

Anna // Posted 24 April 2008 at 6:49 pm

Even the Guardian’s blog on it reads like the Mail on a bad day.. teachers are branded “whinging liars”, “incapable of getting a proper job”, they only do the job for the “cushy ride”… amongst many other things I fear I find it too depressing to go back and quote..

And to think, I wanted to be a teacher.. What a selfish, lying, lazy, incompetent cow I am!

Suzi K // Posted 24 April 2008 at 8:41 pm

I was amused this afternoon that upon informing a women who was commenting on two mounted policemen who had just passed that yes in fact there was a protest march and members of the NUT were strickeing that ‘The teachers are protesting? I knew they were on strike but I didn’t think they would march!’

I’m unsure as to why teachers are less likely than anyone else to march. And considering the sheer amount of unpaid work they do, the amount of governmental pressure to teach in ways they know are ridiculous and inefficient and bad for children and yet they still manage to deliver a good standard of education……….

I’ll support the strike. Yes as a parent it inconvenienced me slightly, as my sons class was affected but it’s one damn day! Not the end of the world!

Pro-feminist man // Posted 24 April 2008 at 11:28 pm

“87% of primary and 57% of secondary school teachers are women”

So teaching is yet another profession where women are underrepresented.

Deborah // Posted 25 April 2008 at 12:18 am

I think it is a feminist issue. There’s the whole dialectic around teaching being perceived as women’s work, and thus they don’t get paid as much, because they are presumed to do it due to their caring women’s natures, not because they actually want to earn a living.

Schneewittchen // Posted 25 April 2008 at 3:28 am

Ha! The idea that (particularly secondary school) pupils have been inconvenienced for a day is ludicrous.

My own experience of teaching in Britain was that every day, any pupil who goes to school to work and learn is inconvenienced and stopped from doing so by other rude, disruptive pupils and their even more obnoxious parents who will refuse point blank to come in and discuss their child’s behaviour/lack of work, but try to give the child any kind of consequence for same and said parent will storm to the school and physically threaten and verbally abuse you.

I would, however, like to defend the planning and targets thing. Now that I live and work in Canada where there are certainly no targets or levels to match them to, I totally get how brilliant the system in Britain is. It informs, it keeps continuity and it shows you exactly where you are. Yes, it’s extra paperwork, but it also saves a great deal by not having every teacher having to reinvent the wheel.

Michelle // Posted 25 April 2008 at 10:09 am

I was also pissed off with the BBC news coverage of the strike- ‘gasp! parents and businesses inconvenienced for one day!’- so? Def. an attitude of ‘protest? Don’t protest! The (capitalist) system has to keep going!’

But let’s look at the long-term effect on our children here.

Under-paid, over-worked teachers do not make for good teachers. They can be disillusioned, unmotivated and unprepared. I’ve had teachers like this & my sister who’s in secondary school is certainly having this experience and it rubs off on the kids- they become bored with school.

Teaching is one of the most important jobs in society, educating the next generation of adults & they should be paid accordingly, so I fully support the strike.

It pisses me off to see over-paid MPs denouncing the striking teachers; businesses moaning ’cause they’ve lost a bit of money; and parents moaning ’cause their plans have been disrupted for one day when the strike is for the benefit of their kids in the long-term.

Laura // Posted 25 April 2008 at 11:13 am

Oh yes, Mr MRA, that’s exactly what I said, isn’t it. Funnily enough, I actually think we need to get more men into teaching. Shocking, eh? But in order to do that we need to challenge social sterotypes and gender roles – one of the main goals of feminism. Shit, looks like feminism could actually help men.

Bye, now.

Kimberley // Posted 25 April 2008 at 12:37 pm

It took me a couple of articles before I was able to find out *why* the teachers were striking. Having learned what the problem was, I’m amazed only one union is going on strike.

I strongly agree with Deborah that this is a feminist issue.

Florence Okoye // Posted 27 April 2008 at 11:32 pm

I was angrily amused about the fuss over the perceived detriment to children’s education that one day off school made, especially considering how this close to the exams, most students really ought to be mostly revising.

The real problem just seemed to be that parents were annoyed at having to deal with/arrange care for their kids for a couple of extra hours than usual.

Steph // Posted 8 October 2008 at 8:30 pm

As a NUT secondary school teacher, can I just say how refreshing your supportive comments are. I’ve never known the precise figures before concerning female/male teachers but I definitely think you have hit on something. If it was the other way around, would even be striking in the first place?

Thank you again – this page has made my long and tiring day!

Juliet // Posted 8 October 2008 at 11:25 pm

Mr Pro-Feminist Man (yeah, very funny) is missing the point. 87% of primary school and 57% of secondary school teachers may well be female, but you can bet that most of the time the headteachers of the schools they work in will be male!

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