Restive teachers seek national strike ballot

DISRUPTION IN SCHOOLS: Union leaders attempt to steer a moderate course over class sizes as membership toys with tough action

BY JUDITH JUDD

Education Editor

Schools in some parts of Britain could be hit by industrial action over class sizes next term, despite the opposition of National Union of Teachers' leaders to a national strike.

Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said at a pre-conference press briefing that there could be local actions and the union would continue to support members who refused to teach oversized classes.

Delegates from London will tomorrow propose a strike ballot in all schools where the union's class size limits - 30 pupils in ordinary classes and 27 in reception classes - have been exceeded. More than one million primary school children are now in classes of more than 30.

A motion from Nottinghamshire members also calls for a national one-day strike next term. Mr McAvoy said the executive would oppose such a move and warned militants not to jeopardise the alliance formed with parents and governors over spending cuts.

He doubted the effectiveness of the strike at a time when the Cabinet would be deciding education spending for next year. "If there has to be action, my choice would be for action demonstrating the extent of the problem with which parents could be associated."

On Monday, delegates will debate a motion demanding that the boycott of national curriculum tests at the ages of seven, 11 and 14 should continue. It was called off earlier this year. Some delegates also want to make government plans to train teachers mainly in schools unworkable by refusing to take part.

Another motion calls on union leaders to ballot teachers on whether to refuse to co-operate with the Office for Standards in Education over school inspections. The executive is supporting a motion asking teachers to take industrial action to prevent the engagement of self-employed teachers or those employed by agencies rather than local authorities.

Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, said in a letter to Mr McAvoy that there was nothing to stop governors from taking on such teachers. Mr McAvoy said Mrs Shephard was ultimately trying to casualise the workforce and that "freelance" teachers would harm children's education.

At the moment, agencies are generally used only to provide supply teachers, but the union fears the practice will spread. Agencies were originally concentrated in London, but are now found throughout Britain.

Mr McAvoy said: "Such teachers will be vulnerable to lower pay and worse contracts. They will not be part of the teacher's superannuation scheme." The union intends to campaign to persuade all political parties to outlaw the use of freelance teachers.

The union's debate on salaries this afternoon will include a motion from Croydon and Hackney calling on the executive to draw up plans for a campaign and strike action. It wants the proposals to be submitted to a special salary conference before November.

The NUT leadership, which will attempt to amend the motion, wants a campaign involving parents, governors, local authorities and political parties to back a joint salary claim for all teachers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'