Friday 24 June 2011

Fair Pensions for All Will Benefit Pupils

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Next Thursday, June 30th, many Brent schools are likely to be fully or partially closed as teachers strike alongside other public sector workers, over government proposals to make them contribute more to their pensions and retire when they are older with a lower pension than they would get now.

As a former teacher and headteacher, and now a school governor, I fully support this strike action. The proposals if implemented would have a detrimental impact on pupils. One major issue that has not been fully covered by the media is that teaching is an intensive job that is physically and emotionally demanding.  Although there are people who perform extremely well into their 60s there are many who do not. I retired at 60 because I recognised that I was no longer performing as well as I should at a front-line job where the interests of pupils and parents required peak performance.

Imagine someone now having to retire at 66 years old, after more than 40 years in the classroom, not as dynamic as they used to be, having to deal with a class of 30 lively 5 year olds or 13 year olds. It would not be a positive situation for either children or teachers.  More damagingly a headteacher faced with an under-performing older teacher and under pressure from Ofsted, may have to resort to capability procedures in order to remove that teacher from the classroom. Such teachers would end, what otherwise would have been a successful career, labelled a failure and feeling dejected. Other teachers in the school would suffer a collapse in morale when they see a colleague forced to leave in such circumstances.

Although there will be short-term inconvenience to parents next week I hope that there will be recognition that if successful the strike action will be to the long-term benefit of pupils and parents.

NUT and ATL strikers and their supporters will be meeting at 9.30am outside the Torch pub in Wembley Park (opposite the Ark Academy) for a rally and will then travel together on the underground to Lincoln Inns Fields to join others from across the country.

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