The school holidays are nearly over, so here’s a cheery tale for those returning to the classroom next week. Teachers are demoralised, says a poll [PDF] for the NUT which found 55 per cent of those in the profession described themselves as having low or very low morale. Out of the 804 surveyed by YouGov, 71 per cent said they didn’t think the government trusted them to get on with their jobs.
Michael Gove has made it pretty clear that there is indeed one group of teachers that he doesn’t trust to get on with their jobs: ‘militant’ trade union members who initiate industrial action such as ‘work-to-rule’ measures. But there’s another group that’s feeling rather demoralised, too: parents.
Just before Christmas, a group of people waving placards appeared outside a school in Chesterfield. They weren’t members of a teaching union; in fact, they were protesting against a teaching union. Teachers at Dunston Primary School had walked out over what they said were ‘intrusive and unnecessary’ classroom observations. The parents were displeased by the disruption to their children’s education, and urged the teachers to return to the classroom.
There is more industrial action planned for 2013, so the chances are there will be further opportunities for parents and Gove to be demoralised by militant trade unionists. But one thing to watch out for is how the Education Secretary fares with Lib Dems when he goes on the attack. Lib Dem members of the Coalition admit to being a little uncomfortable at the way Gove attacks the NUT and NASUWT, saying it doesn’t help attempts to calm things down before industrial action. If the teaching unions do decide to go ahead with a national strike, those internal tensions might become a little more public.