Sunday, November 21, 2010

"North Korean" Gove

“We will give teachers power over how money is spent”
was the rather surprising remark of Michael Gove on the Andrew Marr show on 21 November.

Even more surprising was his assertion that spending on education would be increased. At the same time here in West Sussex 50 teachers supporting the most vulnerable pupils with hearing and vision impairment are facing the sack.

The “increase in spending” does not in fact involve any new money, they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, But Peter will still need paying!

To celebrate the 2012 Olympics 162 million pounds of government spending on Sports Partnerships is being cut. Yet again the “teacher autonomy” and “more spending” of Mr Gove's doublespeak actually means more cuts. Emma Greenough, Brighton School Sport Co-ordinator, now facing the sack, commented in the Observer “You are going to be left with two-tier sports – it'll be sport for children whose parents can afford it.

And even Andrew Marr thought Gove's attitude to the curriculum was “North Korean.” Gove protests that teachers will be given autonomy. However Mr Gove who has no knowledge or experience of teaching will decide how little Willie in Willesden will learn to read [“Synthetic phonics for you laddie”] and How Harry in Hastings learns History.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The NUT opposes loss of 50 jobs. You can help

This press release about the loss of jobs in West Sussex should appear in your local rag this week.

* If it does not, why not send it to them?
* If it does then why not write in supporting it?

If you agree the union should fight job cuts then you can email

Chair of WSCC, Mark Dunn:

Cabinet Member for Education: Peter Griffiths:

David Sword, Director of Learning:

***The union is as much YOU as it is ME ***

Derek McMillan
West Sussex Teachers Association

Press release follows:

West Sussex NUT is gravely concerned over the intention of West Sussex County Council to restructure the support services to schools from centrally employed staff as its response to central government?s cuts in funding.

These cuts will hit some of the most vulnerable children in West Sussex; they will inevitably result in the reduction of services to the most disadvantaged, including those with special needs.

This action, if unchallenged, will result in the loss of almost 50 jobs in front-line services and we believe it will inevitably reduce the quality of the service provided. The jobs lost will be those of specialist teachers, psychologists, educational advisers and other professionals who provide invaluable support to our most needy children, their families and schools
This will be contrary to the government?s declared intention to protect front-line services in vital areas such as education. It is also inconsistent with West Sussex?s declared intention to deliver good quality services to all, especially the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

West Sussex Teachers' Association urges all concerned parties, such as the parents of vulnerable children who are most likely to be most disadvantaged by this policy, to communicate their concerns to WSCC as a matter of urgency.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The poppy – symbol of peace or war?

After the first world war a weary population greeted the end
of the war and celebrated peace. Armistice day became a day
for commemoration of those who had died in that senseless
slaughter. The Flanders poppy was a symbol of that. Millions
still commemorate the fallen in that way.

The politicians who send better people than themselves off
to die have a different view. For them remembrance is a
celebration of war and hypocrisy.

At the same time as they stand in the house of commons
patriotically wearing their poppies and grieving for the
fallen, they vote to cut the pensions of all public service
workers including of course the gallant heroes they pretend
to celebrate.

By switching from one measure of prices to another (RPI to
CPI) they intend by sleight of hand to attack those most
vulnerable and cut thousands of pounds from the widows of
war and those who have retired injured from the field of

The shadowy defence spokesman Jim Murphy was called out of a
remembrance service. Proudly wearing his poppy he didn’t
speak about ending war or putting an end to the killing. No
he protested about the cutting of the harrier jump jet.
“Serious people have raised serious concerns about the
government's decision to scrap Harriers and all ministers
have succeeded in doing is add to the confusion.”

Obviously in place of “blessed are the peacemakers” his
service included “blessed are the warmakers” and more
particular the merchants of death who produce these horrible
weapons for profit.

It is all grist to the mill for this star in the New Labour
firmament. More weapons, more deaths, more heroes for him to
shed crocodile tears over.

Socialists take no issue with those who genuinely want to
commemorate the fallen or celebrate the end of a war. Those
who use remembrance to score cheap political points while
doing nothing to put an end to war are beneath contempt.

Derek McMillan

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teachers’ pensions are under attack. But the NUT is going to fight to defend them.

The November NUT Executive agreed unanimously that we prepare a campaigning timetable building up to a ballot for strike action in the spring term.

The Government are trying to claim that our existing pensions’ scheme is ‘unaffordable’. The most recent valuations of the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme confirm that’s just not true. They just want to rip-off our pensions to pay for their debts.

The first Hutton report made quite clear what the Government intends – to make us retire older and pay more for less pension.

October’s Comprehensive Spending Review made the threat clearer. The Government plans for all teachers to be paying another 3% of our salaries in pension contributions. That’s a big pay cut. It’s a cut that we cannot accept.

On top of that, the Government have switched the indexation of pension benefits from the Retail Price Index to the lower Consumer Price Index. That change alone could cost a teacher tens of thousands of pounds in retirement.

When the Hutton Commission issues its final report in March, it could include further attacks. Changed pension calculations – like using ‘career-averages’ – could cut pension payouts. Our retirement age could go up – to 65 for all of us – but perhaps to 67 and beyond – unless we make a stand.

We can’t wait for Hutton’s Final Report in March to reveal the full details of these attacks. To make Hutton and the Government think again, we have to take action before then – hopefully co-ordinated with other teaching and non-teaching unions too.

That’s why the NUT Executive agreed unanimously to produce a timetable for:

• Distribution of campaigning materials

• Meetings, rallies and demonstrations

• A ballot for strike action in the spring term.

We will approach other unions to seek maximum co-ordination in all of the above activities and then confirm our action timetable at the December meeting of the NUT Executive.

Get the news out to every school – the fight to defend our pensions is on!

Do it to Julia!

In the book 1984 Winston Smith is threatened with savage
cuts from the claws and teeth of a rat. The state do this to
him so he will plead with them to "Do it to Julia" and thus
betray his lover and himself.

Representatives of the New Labour canaille have similar "do
it to Julia" plans. They wish to appear reasonable by saying
"of course some cuts are necessary but vote for me and I
will oppose this particular cut."

They have the cheek of the devil. New Labour kowtowed to the
bankers and gave them billions to keep the gravy train on
the rails. They expect us to pay the fare. The bankers would
benefit from a short sharp shock - perhaps six months in
prison for profiteering and economic sabotage - far more
than the bonuses which are simply not good for them.

The anti cuts movement will welcome support from any quarter
but anyone from the Labour Party should be asked whether
they would vote against "nice Labour cuts" as well as "nasty
Tory cuts"