Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 April 2006

NUT conference:

Kick big business out of education!

DELEGATES TO the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference faced up to how to fight the biggest proposed upheaval to the education system for over 60 years.

Ken Smith

New Labour's Education and Inspections Bill aims to overturn the idea of comprehensive education and allow the 'free market' and big business to let rip in the education system. It plans to take schools out of local authority control and hand the most lucrative parts over to big business and religious organisations.

As well as preparing the way for a two-tier or three-tier education system, they are also opening up the way to corruption in education provision - see the 'cash for honours' scandal over sponsorship of academies.

Lewisham delegate and Socialist Party member Martin Powell-Davies, speaking to the main Left amendment in the debate on how to oppose the Bill, warned that the attacks it contains are part of "a divisive neo-liberal ideology that believes that market competition and privatisation improves services which they patently don't... they are part of a wider attack on public services."

Education Bill

Martin warned that the NUT leadership's proposals were not enough to win this struggle. He pointed out that with this government "strength of argument is not enough - they're happy to lose the argument but press ahead in any case."

Martin added: "There is no educational argument for the Education Bill but unless we fight back it will happen anyway". With the break-up of local authority schools and the "dog-eat-dog admissions system" there will be a huge threat to teachers' jobs, pay and conditions.

He concluded that although it may be necessary to fight school by school in some cases, the most effective action would be across schools, with a campaign for national strike action. Martin argued for the linking up with other public-sector workers who are also considering action against privatisation, to ensure an effective fight before the Bill becomes law.

Former NUT president Mary Compton showed how the Labour government's plans were part of an international campaign by big business and financial capital to make rich pickings out of education. She referred the conference to a World Bank document "Education - the last frontier for profit" which was part of a worldwide plan to end free education and which chillingly warned of how "the political power of teachers' unions can be countered."

National executive member Hazel Danson pointed out that although only 7% of education in Britain was currently in private hands, 17% of the Parliamentary Labour Party had received a private education. 25% of junior ministers, 40% of the Cabinet and 100% of those making decisions on the future of education had received a private education.

The conference agreed a resolution, strengthened up by the Left amendment, that prepared a campaign that could build for strike action. One immediate aim will be to build for a huge lobby of Parliament, possibly alongside other public-sector unions fighting privatisation.


OTHER KEY debates at the conference were over pensions and the anti-union laws.

The successful united public-sector union pensions' struggle that forced the government to retreat from its plans to raise the retirement age for existing public-sector workers clearly gave NUT delegates confidence that the government plans for 'reforming' education could be driven back.

Speaking against an executive amendment, which wanted delegates to accept on trust what the union leadership was in the process of negotiating on the new teachers' pension scheme, Martin Powell-Davies warned that whilst a lot had been achieved there was still much to do to defend pensions.

He said there are still battles ahead and the unions needed to maintain their unity in action to force the government back.

He pointed out that all those who are guaranteed a fabulous pension - MPs, CBI leaders and newspaper editors in particular - believe it is 'unreasonable' for the rest of the population to retire at 60. Martin said that whilst forcing back the government's plans last year we "can't accept the government's work till you drop" proposals.

He argued successfully for a special NUT conference to have a say on any final offer from the government.

"United action forced them to retreat" he said but "we may need to take that lesson into other struggles" including future pension struggles.

The theme of workers fighting back was developed by Bristol delegate and Socialist Party member, Rachael Thomas, in the debate on the anti-union laws and the Trade Union Freedom Bill. Rachael pointed out that Britain has the most repressive anti-union laws of any of the advanced capitalist countries and workers' rights had been driven back over a century. She pointed out how some employers were using this to sack trade union reps but also showed how, like with the Gate Gourmet workers, when workers are compelled to struggle they can sweep the anti-union laws aside.

Rachael pointed out that it was trade union leaders rather than the union members, who were most fearful of the anti-union laws. She pointed out that 100 years ago when workers had faced similar repressive laws they had realised that industrial struggle alone was not enough and that they needed to found a party to represent workers' interests. A new workers' party was needed once again to ensure there is an industrial and a political fight against the anti-union laws.

l Socialist Party delegates also spoke in debates on workload, workplace bullying and inclusion. Over 100 copies of the Socialist Party Teachers' Bulletin and 70 copies of the socialist were sold at the conference along with over 200 raised for the Socialist Party fighting fund.


IN THE debate on workplace bullying, Socialist Party member Eileen Hunter, a Birmingham delegate, tried to intervene with a point of order - asking for reassurance that if delegates' speeches were used in disciplinary cases against them then they should have the full backing of the union.

This is what happened to Eileen, the NUT rep at her school, after last year's conference which led to her dismissal by ultra-Blairite headteacher Dexter Hutt. Eileen's daughter, Natara Hunter, a teacher at the same school was also victimised by the same head.

Shamefully, the conference chair, 'named' Eileen - a form of discipline - while she was trying to make her point of order. The chair then effectively pressurised Eileen into making an apology. This forced a backlash from delegates who felt that Eileen had suffered at the hands of workplace bullies and didn't deserve similar treatment from a national officer of the union.

During the debate on the issue, Natara Hunter, Socialist Party member and Birmingham delegate, said that "an injury to one is an injury to all has to be reaffirmed as a principle of the union".

Natara recounted how whilst she and Eileen had been sacked by a Blairite head teacher but they didn't want "sympathy but action against management bullying".

Around 40 delegates attended the Campaign for a New Workers' Party fringe meeting.

Resisting Cardiff's school cuts

CARDIFF COUNTY Council's decision to close 17 schools, merge another ten and threaten 300 teaching jobs got an immediate response from school students at Cantonian High School. They walked out of their classes and went on strike!

Dave Reid, Cardiff Socialist Party

A teacher at Cantonian told the socialist: "Students in year 11 were the main organisers of the protest. They protested by the fences waving placards which they then tied to the railings.

"The council want to close the school and send the students to Radyr but that's a long way away and will mean losing a school in the community. Apparently the land that the school is on is worth 1.5 million an acre, so I guess the council aims to make money on it. But if they build houses here then there'll be even more need for a school here!"

Cardiff Socialist Party asks how can sacking 300 teachers improve education in Cardiff? Falling pupil rolls are an opportunity to improve pupil/teacher ratios in the classes. Anyway, Cardiff's population is rapidly increasing with young people moving into the city so the school population is likely to rise in the future.

The council will discuss the proposals on 27 April. The Socialist Party has called for a lobby of the council at 3.00 p.m. at County Hall in Atlantic Wharf.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 20 April 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS in crisis: Join the fightback now

New Labour feel the heat on hospital cuts

Super-profits from illness

Housing crisis

Fight to save our council housing!

Socialist Party election campaign

A socialist alternative to privatisation

We need a fighting alternative

Workplace news and analysis

Socialists call for "robust" action to oppose Peugeot job losses

Keep up the pressure on bosses and union leaders

New strikes against DWP job cuts

Kick big business out of education!

Stewards prepare to fight for jobs

International socialist news and analysis

Nepal: General strike movement against regime

Successful CWI public meeting in Caracas

Walmart: the High Cost of Low Price


Home   |   The Socialist 20 April 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


trianglePlans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleDemonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

triangleTeachers strike in Sheffield

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

triangleSocialist Students day of action demands free education


triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation

triangleOpposition to new academy school being built on Leeds playing fields

triangleWe can win the vote at 16!

triangleTeachers, students and parents demand an end to the schools funding crisis

Big business:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleReject Starmer's Single Market u-turn


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap


triangleTamil Solidarity AGM & public meeting

Socialist Party:

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle11 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Campaigning workshop

triangle11 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas Quiz

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice