To many, strikes may seem like a free day off school to get l33t h34dsh0tz on the new Call of Duty: Crimea River. However it’s important that we remember what this magical time of year is really for. The bottom line is, guess what, teachers are people too!
So, to counter my above statement, what do these people want?
In a press release, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) stated that their qualms were about the introduction of performance related pay, a massive workload, bureaucracy, and increased pension payments. These matters don’t just concern teachers for their own financial reasons, nor is the concern purely limited to teachers. Nearly all of these problems have an effect on the quality of teaching.
The Trash has previously stated, on multiple occasions, that it supports teachers. Our problem, however, is with Management getting in the way of actual teaching. We've seen this happen a lot of times at school. I’m sure everyone can remember the last time a member of the BLT poked their head around a door, unannounced and uninvited, and proceeded to disturb the lesson with their presence, but also with their almost religious obsession with tucked-in shirts, which has no detrimental effect to anything other than their egos and the opinion of some top-hatted turd with an Ofsted badge. Or perhaps the new rule which teachers enforce purely as of reasons from above, that planners must be open to the correct date every lesson, despite the fact that it’s more hassle to force people to get it out and open it, than to open it when necessary. The NUT is against this sort of thing, it rejects bureaucracy and big management. The development of a student’s intellect and character through their education can never be pinned down to a science. Everyone works differently, and a good teacher accommodates for this. Pointless, bureaucratic rules are wholly against this notion.
Onto the next contention they have with Michael Gove’s policies, performance related pay. You may wonder how the amount a teacher is paid affects the wellbeing of their students, but it certainly does. Performance related pay does not take into account extra-curricular activities, or teacher’s going the extra mile for an individual student to make sure they achieve the best they can. Performance related pay, and many systems like it, instead gives complete free reign to the Head to choose what all the other teachers are paid. We’re all familiar with what our Head in particular, likes, and what he doesn't like. For one, the amount of trips taken per year has sharply decreased since our current Head’s coronation. The Head also loves to spread publicity with dull statistics. He even goes so far as to bulk up these statistics, sometimes using perhaps questionable techniques, such as the inflation of Hampstead Sixth Form applications, if you count the ones that year 11's are forced to do to practice, which are somehow submitted by default. And, if you’d been listening in Biology, where one trait is rewarded, it will become more prevalent. What does this mean? This means that those teachers who conform to this statistical fetish and make the Head seem better will be rewarded more, and so will become more prevalent. This also means that work that slips under the Head’s radar goes unrewarded where it otherwise would have made no difference, yet where it can be measured as an attractive number to slap on a prospectus and call it a day, the work is rewarded much more. But surely teachers should have to seek the Head’s approval for every action just to get more pay? This disincentivises extra work. Extra work which can make quite a difference. We can also see that extra-curricular activities have decreased in prevalence, now mostly seeming to consist of sports clubs, lots of which have external teachers who are paid separately. Extra-curricular clubs out of a teacher’s own time have partially disappeared, seemingly. This is not a dig at our teachers, as they strive to increase the extra-curricular, but the mix of disincentivising extra work, whilst giving teachers more work with less time to do it in does not bode well for the ambitious.
As for other, more financial and personal grounds teachers have to strike, the Trash cannot comment, as it doesn’t concern students, however it’s in my personal opinion, and I’m sure I’m not alone in it, that teaching is one of the most important professions. So follows that Michael Gove’s new restrictions overwork teachers until the age of 68, with a dwindling pension fund, when that should not be the case at all. The NUT claims that “Two in five teachers are leaving the profession within five years due to intolerable workload pressures, performance related pay, increased pensions contributions and working until 68.”, and that’s not good.
To conclude, powers outside of Mr. Szamalamadingdong’s control, the government and its ilk, are out of touch with what is needed, both by teachers and students. The Trash stands with the NUT in its strike action on the 26th of March, and commend those teachers who have decided to put their students' education first and come in tomorrow to aid selected Year 11's, 12's and 13's with their exams.
DISCLAIMER: This Hampstead Trash article has been written to inform readers, portraying a factual argument over a specific subject or to report objectively on an event that has occurred.