Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 48 Number 14, May 12, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers Forum

Teachers' and Educators' Struggles

Lecturers demonstrate in support of Education for All outside the University of London on March 16, 2018

Teachers and educators desire first and foremost, through their labours, to contribute to the development of young human beings so that they can solve problems of the new society. Education is a right, and it can be said that teachers' working conditions are the pupils' and students' learning conditions. Furthermore, there is a struggle as to the kind of education system that people desire. Should it be human-centred or capital-centred. Educators want to impart knowledge and skills to students, and by so doing add huge value to society. They are opposed to all manner of prescriptive teaching and reducing the method to one of being a mechanical functionary and minor director to carry out the directives and whims of the ruling elites.

Teachers and educators are fighting back against the anti-social offensive. Such struggles as that of the lecturers show the determination and resistance of those in higher education not only to defend their pension rights, but to safeguard the future of education, and protest against the attacks on it. This struggle of the University and College Union (UCU) involved more than 40,000 lecturers, researchers, technical and academic-related staff at 64 universities. Lecturers at 64 universities across the country carried out determined strike action in a high-profile campaign to defend their pension rights.

And in secondary education, there is a struggle against Academisation. These Academies strike at the conception that education at the highest level should be available to all as of right. They are premised on the idea that education is a choice for the parents and children, that standards laying the ground for a future career are paramount, and that private interests should prevail.

Furthermore, teachers are faced with an intolerable pressure which is affecting the well-being of the teachers as well as the education of the pupils. Almost half (47%) of teachers believe the government and the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), are responsible for an increase in their workload. Bureaucracy  and data collection have added unnecessary work. Capital-centred education demands "productivity" from labour that has little or no value for education only functionary performance. According to an NEU survey released at the ATL section annual conference, 87% of the teachers who took part said the government's 2014, "Workload Challenge" has not cut their workload at all.[1]

Teachers have to constantly prove that they are carrying out prescribed functions. NEU say that government changes to the curriculum, assessments or exams was the biggest driver of their workload and Ofsted inspections, while pressure to increase pupil test scores and exam grades was the biggest driver of their workload.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “It is a damning indictment but no surprise that so many teachers believe that the government and Ofsted are the biggest drivers of their workload - they are. The NEU has campaigned tirelessly for change, putting pressure on the Government to reduce workload. As a result of the NEU’s workload campaign, the Government and Ofsted recently produced a video about some of the activity around marking, data collection and lesson planning that Ofsted don’t want to see, and that heads should not ask for.” She continued: “We know that teachers are leaving the profession in droves due to pressures from workload. Teachers are a priceless resource and the Government should not be adding to their burn-out.”

Wherever teachers and educators are, in the past and in the present, they have been found to be in the midst of the working class movements for positive change, helping to activate the human factor and social consciousness. They are fighting against the trampling of their rights by an imposed neo-liberal agenda, as well as to safeguard the future of education for all at the highest standard as of right.


[1] The National Education Union is a recently amalgamated union of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the  National Union of Teachers, designed to strengthen the teachers' organisation and ability to defend their rights. The survey was released at this year's annual conference.


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