The current action by teachers at John Roan School in Greenwich has significance well beyond that borough. There is increasing recognition of the impact of a high stakes testing system both on teachers and pupils. As teachers' workload increases their stress levels rise and the fixation on grades and fear of failure produces stress in their students.
John Roan staff are taking the initiative in challenging what the NUT have called factory schooling. (Exam Factories? The impact of accountability measures on children and young people NUT June 2015).Yesterday a number of organisations, working under the banner Reclaiming Education, came together at Hamilton House, the NUT HQ, to discuss some common aims in that campaign. Green Party teachers were among those who took part.
This is the message that John Roan staff have sent to supporters today:
We thought we would update you on our campaign to defend our working conditions and the traditions of our comprehensive school.
Our strike day on Tuesday 10 November 2015, received phenomenal support from NUT Associations, other trade unions, parents, students and teachers from as far as New York Miami and Nigeria! We think this is because we are speaking up for teachers who are defending education and the conditions in which it can flourish. We want our students to do well in their qualifications but not at any cost; not at the cost of those who find exams difficult and feel they are failures, or the ones who want to do so well they work into the night, bent over books with the stress of heightened expectations and future failure.
Teaching should be something that brings fulfilment and reward, not exhaustion and demoralisation. They are destroying our vocation and turning it into alienating toil. We must stop this and our campaign is the start for us. We hope we have encouraged teachers everywhere to do the same.
We understand that a negotiating meeting has been called this week and we hope that The John Roan Management come to their senses and adopt policies that recognise the valuable contribution we make to our students' learning. All we ask is that they respect that our workload should be reasonable and that we should be trusted to teach without excessive scrutiny and monitoring.
If we do not get agreement, we will have no choice to but to continue our strike on Thursday 19 November 2015. Our pickets are from 7.30am until 8.45am and we welcome everyone in joining us to support our strike.
Please continue to spread the word and if you would like us to speak at a meeting then reply us with details of when/where you would like us to come. We are all working teachers so we will do our best, but we have part-time and retired teachers who could speak too.
Thanks again and solidarity forever.
The John Roan NUT
www.thejohnroannut.org firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @thejohnroannut