NUT to ballot for action over academies

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) national conference this Easter decisively voted to ballot for strike action against the government’s ‘white paper’ plan to force every school to become an academy by 2020.

The agreed motion called for a ballot for discontinuous action to begin with a one-day strike before the end of the summer term and to seek to coordinate action with other unions.

The strike ballot decision follows widespread demonstrations and public protests by teachers’ unions, students and parents (see page 2), and also a speech by Jeremy Corbyn at NUT conference condemning forced academisation.


Meanwhile, Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan was heckled by delegates when she spoke at the Nasuwt union conference. To much laughter she admitted “the government did not always get things right”!

The Monday of NUT conference was dominated by a debate on the government’s Prevent strategy. This places an obligation on teachers to refer students suspected of ‘extremism’ to the police.

Speakers in the debate were unequivocal in their commitment to protect their pupils. They pointed out that the best way to do this is by encouraging an environment where students feel free to discuss with teachers. The Prevent strategy instead has a chilling effect on free discussion. Speakers also pointed out the strategy disproportionately targets Muslim students.

A Socialist Party conference leaflet spelt out how the NUT should prepare members for strike action and in defence of state education following the ballot. Extracts are printed below.

“Teachers have been waiting for a long time to mount a serious fightback and, coming out of conference with a ballot for discontinuous strike action to build for, we have the chance to do just that.

“NUT members need to know that strike action in the summer term is not just ‘letting off steam’ but the beginning of a serious struggle against the government.

“It is a ballot for discontinuous action. We must explain the fact that the amended motion talks about action in the autumn term and doesn’t end in July, despite the media reporting it as just one day.

“Reps also need to point out the call for coordination with the junior doctors, not just leaving this to national leaders but building local links between teachers and doctors in preparation for industrial action. The government, beset by crisis, will be fighting on two fronts – health and education – and that will weaken them.

“The Conservative government is on the ropes. We must show to members that the civil war in the party over the EU, Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and the pressure of pushing through their agenda enables the trade union movement to strike a decisive blow.

“The public mood is changing and our strike comes in a very different political context to our last disputes. We must have confidence that parents, students and the rest of the community will back us.

“In the same way that the junior doctors’ fight for a fair contract is linked to defending the NHS, our strike is about defending state education – a social movement with industrial action at its core.”