Left-wingers to urge national school strike

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The Independent Online
CALLS for national classroom strikes over a whole range of teachers' grievances will be heard this weekend at the annual conference of Britain's largest teaching union.

Despite leadership pleas for moderation, the NUT's large minority of left-wingers will argue for walkouts over pay, redundancies, teacher appraisal and class sizes.

National curriculum tests and planned changes to the teacher training system could also spark strike action this summer. Teachers in sixth form colleges could also disrupt classes over flexible contracts that are being introduced. In the past, the radical wing of the union has forced victories over the more moderate leadership.

Buoyed by the success of last year's boycott of tests for seven and 14 year olds, which led to a review of the national curriculum and testing, many members believe they can now force government retreats on other issues.

However, Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said last night that national strike action could only weaken the support that teachers had won from parents and the public in the past year.

Local strikes in areas where class sizes were unreasonably large, for example, could win public support because they would be taken in defence of pupils' education, he said, but national strikes would not do so.