Last week lots of teachers went on strike because they thought the 2.4 percent pay rise they were being offered by the government was not enough (the NUT wanted 10 percent). Even though only one in four of the teachers' unions called the strike, with only a quarter of the NUT voting in favour and only one in ten teachers supporting it, 5000 schools were closed and 4,500 had their classes disrupted. And this with exams fast approaching.
I liked Alice Thompson's take on this in Friday's Telegraph:
Here's a really good lesson, one I am sure you will all want your children to learn. If you don't like having to eat salad or you don't feel like discussing frogspawn in biology, if you hate swimming or think it is unfair to have Double Maths on a Monday morning, then go on strike. It's easy: just sit on your desk and refuse to move, or don't come in at all - go shopping or play football instead. If the teachers complain, you can explain that it is the only way you can get your point across, that nothing ever happens through negotiation, and confrontation is the best way forward.
If the head teacher tells you that these are the rules and that the majority of pupils abide by them, stick two fingers up. Why shouldn't you disrupt everyone else's lives? If you don't look after yourself, no one else will. The more attention you draw to yourself, the better. Get the camera crews in, parade up and down the high street. It doesn't matter if most of the other pupils want to negotiate a deal to have chips instead of salad one day a week, or change Double Maths to a Tuesday. That would be a pathetic compromise
To be honest, some teachers definitely do deserve more money. They do a tough and vitally important job. But on the other hand, some teachers don't even deserve the money they're getting at the moment. In a sensible system, teachers' pay would be decided by each individual school, who would factor local living expenses, the teacher's qualifications and perhaps their performance into the salary. Yet because education is nationalized, so is pay-bargaining, meaning everyone has to get the same pay rise. And so we get national strikes when that rise isn't high enough.
It's yet another reason why we need a localised education voucher system like the one in Sweden. Our recent report, Open Access for UK Schools, tells you everthing you need to know.