Friday, June 12, 2020


Labels can be used to navigate to parts of the blog. To get just book reviews click on "books"

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Brighton Pride

Members of WSTA attended Brighton Pride. This is the first time WSTA has attended this event and we have learnt some useful lessons for next year.

The morning started sunny and we set up the stall (which was fortunately covered) before the rain set in in the afternoon.

When we had exhausted our supply of whistles and pens we got a good response from the public to the anti-SATS petition. There were a lot of good discussions about SATS and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

They sited us next to the Conservative Party who were handing out sweets to children (shades of the gingerbread house!)

Other groups in our area included HM prison service, the inland revenue, the NASUWT and Unite the Union.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Tolpuddle 2009

The Tolpuddle Museum is an educational resource supported by the NUT. As you can see many teachers' organisations take part in the annual Tolpuddle Festival. Crawley Trades Council organised a coach this year.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

LA Teachers End 24-Day Hunger Strike

In Los Angeles, a group of teachers have ended their twenty-four-day hunger strike to protest budget cuts. The teachers said they will now organize a campaign to recall some members of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers may soon be fired as the district faces a $700 million budget gap.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Have supply teachers been sold down the river?

The phrase "sold down the river" comes from the days of slavery in America when escaping slaves were sold back into slavery by those who were pretending to liberate them.

So when we saw that an unholy alliance of the SWP, CDFU, STA, the right wing and possibly the people's front of Judea were arrayed against the interests of supply teachers in the debate on the West Sussex amendment then supply teachers could legitimately feel they had been sold down the river. The policy the STA et al were advocating was that cover supervisors should be "used for no more than the first three days of absence in secondary schools and no more than the first day of absence in primary schools." Imagine how heads in schools where the members have held the line over teaching on the cheap will crow at that news. "Your own union says you have to accept (the criminal exploitation of) cover supervisors"

During the conference the president interrupted precisely two delegates - supporters of Classroom Teacher who were speaking in that debate.

"A teachers' job on a cleaner's wage" was how the conditions of cover supervisors were described at NUT conference.

The WSTA amendment which would have outlined a strategy to end the exploitation of cover supervisors and seek to reinstate teachers' pay and conditions for supply teachers was not carried.

This will not stop WSTA and Classroom Teacher seeking to support supply teachers. We will use email, facebook and more traditional methods to contact our supply teacher members. We will publicise the conditions of supply teachers to the rest of our membership. We will continue to seek alternatives to agencies and the scandalous policy of "teaching on the cheap."


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Regional Office

The phone number for the new Regional Office is:

01444 894500

As ever you can still contact WSTA on 01403 258222


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Linda Taaffe speaks out

Linda Taaffe writes in classroom teacher Linda was on the National Executive for years but the tired old left thought she was a bit too outspoken. To use a suspect sexist term, she had more balls than the lot of them put together!

In Central Hall Westminster at the April 24th strike rally in front of two thousand teachers, with many more thousands locked outside, wild cheering and applause greeted any platform speaker even hinting at further joint action.

It seemed that the NUT was on a roll. After years of trying, the Left on the NUT National Executive apparently had won a small majority in the elections. Also by a quirk of fate a left general secretary took the helm, joining an already established left treasurer. We then got the news that UNISON were going to ballot, and others were lining up to join those that had already shown willing.

At the same time discontent is being fuelled by more rising prices. Our case is strengthened daily. And to cap it all the government has come under real pressure. With the massacre in the local elections, now Nantwich & Crewe, and Gordon Brown's poll ratings at absolute rock bottom what a chance to extract another u-turn on public sector pay to add to the 10p tax fiasco.

Trade unions rarely get a favourable combination of circumstances to pursue a strike. It is never the right moment. But given some other situations this was a golden opportunity. Incredibly some, or rather quite a few, including those calling themselves Left, have voted against calling action now. They have let teachers down. They have let the government off the hook. They have quite possibly caused a negative impact on the rank and file of other unions.

We recognise that there might be complicating factors, but the overriding factor here was a chance for the coordinated action that the whole of the trade union movement has been campaigning on for such a long time. Shame on those who have shown such a lack of judgment that they voted against a strike in July.

Leadership is all about judgment. Of course we all want the same thing in the end, but timing is everything in politics. Now it seems we have a situation where some 'on the left' have joined with others on the right with similar 'honestly held views' to effectively kick our pay battle into the long grass for now.

Experience in the Left Caucus on the National Executive has shown me that there are some whose views are barely 'Left' at all. There are others on the Left like myself, Martin Powell Davies and others especially in the Socialist Party, who faced a somewhat different, quite unsympathetic reaction to our 'honestly held views'. Martin stood for General Secretary because we reckoned that the views of the candidate backed by others on the Left would fall short. Were we right? As an Executive member I spoke out against some of the methods of many in the Left Caucus who believed that those in the then majority of the Executive really wanted the same thing as us and would see the error of their lackadaisical ways and be won over by our more energetic campaigning.

Unfortunately, the result of this vote could demobilise teachers. It certainly gives the government time to re-group. It may well be that the relentless pressure of events can bring action to the fore again. I certainly hope so. The Div. Secs on June 17th might have much to say. Hopefully Divisonal Secretaries who wanted to see united action in July will not go shy in taking up the arguments of those on the left as well as those on the right.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Scrap SATS

There is a petition to scrap SATS on the Downing Street website

Click here

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

No Academy in Midhurst or Easebourne

Letter to the grandly titled "cabinet member for education" for West Sussex. You can write too if you live in West Sussex and you are concerned:

I am concerned at the haste with which the academy proposals in West Sussex, in particular in Midhurst/Easebourne, are being railroaded through. Once the decision has been made the academies will be outside the control of local people and as we saw recently in Barrow ignoring the concerns of local people can lead to councillors losing their seats.

If councillors are seen as out of touch with local people and abdicating responsibility for education to unelected religious bodies local people may well feel councillors do not deserve their support or trust.

As a teacher I am also concerned that teachers' organisations have not been consulted about this drastic change in their wages and conditions of service. New staff at the academies will not have the wages and conditions of service laid down in the STPC document and local agreements with teachers' organisations will be torn up.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Onwards and upwards = the NUT pay campaign.

The National Executive today unanimously agreed:

1. to reaffirm its committment to the decision of annual conference to ballot members for discontinous action

2. to discuss timescales for a ballot and also of forms of strike and non strike action at its next meeting in 2 weeks time.

3. to seek a meeting with Govt to put forward our demands on pay and on workload.

4. to congratulate div and assoc secs for the work done so far and encourage them to work for the petition ( deadline May 23rd) and the lobby of Parliament on June 9th.

Discontinuous action means that the NUT will be able to act in UNISON with other unions in the public sector. The government has said it want to "listen" and "feel our pain" so feel this Gordon!


Saturday, May 03, 2008

How was it for you?

Read about action in your area in Classroom Teacher

You can also email in about action in your area to



Coventry and Birmingham



Brighton and Eastbourne

St Helens



Bolton and Manchester

and the new Classroom Teacher 5


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gordon Brown "disappointed."

Gordon Brown has said he is "disappointed" that teachers are going on strike. This week the government has cut corporation tax from 30 to 28 percent thus handing over billions to the fat cats. 50 billion has also been handed over to the bankers. Then they pretend they haven't got the money to pay the teachers.

Teachers are beyond "disappointed." Some are getting angry and as Steve Sinnott put it, "Gordon, you wouldn't like us when we're angry!"


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Teacher Support Network

Message from the TSN:

Hello, I’m the digital media manager for Teacher Support Network. Just came across your blog. Neat stuff. You’re an active internet user and a teacher. I’m looking to develop new ways for teachers to get more involved using online community building tools. I just wanted to send you a personal invite to get involved in some of our upcoming things

Outside of our tools on our site, We also have some entry points set up on the social network sites.

On Facebook:



Would enjoy your participation and feedback. We’re also looking to get more teacher bloggers involved with TSN’s online work to create more teacher bloggers, or at least more participants talking about issues facing UK educators. We’re in the midst of creating some new online tools and would be neat to have you on board to maybe look at some of them as we’re developing them.

Anyway, any input is welcome. Thanks in advance

Andrew Lyons
Digital Media Manager
Teacher Support Network

Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BE
Direct Line: +44 (020) 7554 5242 Fax: +44 (020) 7554 5239


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Steve Sinnott 1951-2008

NUT General Secretary, Steve Sinnott, died suddenly on 5 April, 2008. He was my age.

Acting General Secretary, Christine Blower said: “Our hearts go out to Steve’s family at this sad time.

I know that he would have wanted the Union to go ahead with all its campaigns because he believed in all of them with his heart as well as his head.

At a later stage we will have the opportunity properly to remember Steve Sinnott, to honour his achievements and to celebrate his life.
For now, the best way to mark our respect would be to maximise the effect of the campaigns to which he was so committed.”


Friday, April 04, 2008

Teachers support the strike

The TES online survey shows massive support from non NUT teachers for strike action. Their union leaders should wake up and pay attention!

Source: TES online survey of 7,336 teachers, of whom 3,521
were NUT members

Is the one-day strike on April 24 a good idea?

All teachers Yes 62% No 38%
Non-NUT members Yes 52% No 48%
NUT members Yes 73% No 27%
(The same proportion of NUT members said they intended to
walk out on April 24)

Will it cause your school to close?

All teachers Yes 47% No 53%
Non-NUT members Yes 39% No 61%
NUT members Yes 55% No 45%


Friday, March 28, 2008

School Rules OK?

Our local swimming pool has three rules. Here they are:

1) Do not do anything dangerous.
2) Obey any instruction given to you by staff.
3) Enjoy yourself.

The third one isn't even a rule but just intended to create the right atmosphere.

Any school could manage with such a set of rules. Any pupil could understand them.

Alternatively our school had a rule "pupils may only wear flesh-coloured tights." One of our very few black pupils made a complete idiot of the head who tried to enforce that one!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NUT conference 2008 The Easter miracle

I thoroughly enjoyed NUT conference. Bill Greenshields’ presidential address was inspiring with its emphasis on the class basis of British society and his more-or-less unflappable demeanour made for a well-organised conference. Sometimes his avuncular chairmanship put me in mind of an uncle from my youth, Joe I think his name was.

The way the conference worked, the Executive Priority motion meant most calls for action were ruled out of order. This gives the National Executive an enormous opportunity to display flexibility. With an apparent left numerical majority on the Exec (depending on how you calculate these things) they must prove to be our flexible friends and not the government’s.

On Sunday on the tram there was a lot of talk about the Jerry Glazier Easter Miracle where Jerry apparently saw the light on the road to Damascus and ended up agreeing with Martin Powell-Davies on the need to link action on class size, workload and pay together.

After the Classroom Teacher http:/ discussion on Sunday I look forward to April 24th and recruiting new activists from the first-time strikers who will be involved. The classroom teacher flyer will be available for people to download and print out

The WSTA delegation had a gender balance of 7:2 which reflects the gender balance of the union. Other delegations can do likewise and perhaps the National Executive too.

We recorded our thoughts on the conference blog from which you will see that two first-time delegates who are supply teachers were moved to see the consideration the union is giving to their plight.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Woodard Corporation snubs parents and teachers

From the WSTA blog

Teachers and Parents oppose academies.
150 parents and teachers concerned about the threat to turn Littlehampton, Boundstone and King’s Manor into academies attended a meeting organised by the WSTA on Thursday 7th February..

The local authority's spokesman Robert Back was listened to in polite silence. He argued that although Academies had been corrupt and inefficient in the past they would be very different now. He also argued that the academy was “the only game in town.” The private sponsors Woodard Corporation refused to send anyone to speak to us.

Alistair Smith and Hank Roberts spoke on behalf of the NUT and got a very positive reception.

Alistair pointed out the dangers of Academies where historically the Local Authority has lost all say in the running of the school with the LA having one governor and the sponsors having the lion’s share.

He also stressed the social divisiveness of Academies. “Academies,” according to Lord Adonis, “are the 21st Century’s Grammar Schools.”

Hank Roberts pointed out that sponsors generously donating two million pounds can get upwards of 18 million pounds of public money for their trouble and frequently excessive profits are made through “consultancy fees” and the provision of equipment for the school. They are not sponsors but spongers.

Private businesses are colonising the state-funded education system.

Everyone who spoke from the floor was opposed to privatisation and not taken in by any of the promises. nor did they accept the arrogant assertion "there is no alternative". That is not a spirit in which to conduct a consultation. It is undemocratic...and anyway it is something Margaret Thatcher used to say a lot.

There was also discussion about the spread of religious schools without any popular demand. Hank warned of the proliferation of separate schools for children whose parents have different religious views and the potential divisiveness this will bring about.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Workload and Pay

from Classroom Teacher

Hands up all those who have had this experience. We called a meeting at school to discuss the issue of workload. And at the beginning of the meeting I had to read out all the apologies of people who could not come because they were too busy!

For teachers "excessive workload" means workload which seems to serve no educational purpose. Colleagues who voted to boycott the SATS on grounds of workload were coming in every weekend for rehearsals of the school play. The obvious benefit for the pupils of the school play outtrumped the demerits of SATS.

I think if people are going to refuse excessive workload they have to have some confidence the union will back them. And that would require a ballot.

At conference the Executive argued against a ballot on workload because it would confuse the issue and we needed to concentrate on getting a result in a pay ballot.

Then there was a bit of a hiatus and this week a decision has to be taken, a "robust" decision perhaps? Woe betide the NUT leadership if they come up with an invertebrate decision instead.

There is a discussion about this on the TES website
You can join in here


Monday, January 14, 2008

Action and Change for Teachers

A group of teachers who backed Martin Powell-Davies’ recent stand in the NUT Vice-President election met on Saturday January 12th . The meeting discussed what needs to be done to build action to defend teachers’ pay, cut our relentless workload and to halt the break-up of local authority education.

A leadership we can rely on

One thing that still holds us back is the lack of a fighting union leadership that teachers can rely on to build the united action we need. Martin’s campaign helped keep up the pressure on the NUT Executive to call the promised national ballot for strike action on pay. We hope that the Executive will vote to get the ballot under way when they meet at the end of January. By then the Government should finally have announced the miserly salary awards that they expect us to put up with for 2008-2010.

Building support for classroom teachers

Most teachers, struggling with the daily grind in schools, will know nothing about the debates within the Union. But they know they need support in standing up to the demands of bullying managers and the pressures of observations, league tables and performance management. Hard-pressed school reps know they need support in organising their school group and explaining union campaigns in a way that grabs classroom teachers’ attention.
Many hard-pressed Union Secretaries and officers will feel the same way. Too often left on their own to try and build school-by-school action in isolation, ground down by a rising mountain of individual casework, they also need support in building strong local Associations that can defend teachers and also to help bring in new members, especially young teachers, into activity.
It’s this vital task, of helping to develop a strong network of classroom teachers, school reps and campaigning union officers that the meeting agreed had to be our first priority.

A campaigning newsletter

We agreed to build our network by launching a new campaigning newsletter, “Classroom Teacher”, to circulate to schools, both by e-mail and as printed copies that teachers can distribute to their colleagues. It will focus primarily on the main pay and conditions issues facing classroom teachers and the campaigns we can build to defend ourselves.

The newsletter plans to be sharp and snappy, written by, and for, classroom teachers, reflecting the daily pressures we are under but also building confidence that together we can take action to turn the tide. We plan to put names to the articles reflecting the range of teachers involved in the network. At the same time, we hope to have room to include some more detailed commentary for teachers who also want to read something a bit more analytical about the problems we face. We also want to invite teachers to send in their own articles and comments and to be a real part of a growing network.

We hope that the newsletter can develop in to a larger bulletin – which will mean appealing for finances too. It will certainly be regularly produced so that ‘Classroom Teacher’ will be there in staffrooms at least every half-term for teachers to read.

A first flyer has been produced based on a Lewisham NUT newsletter “Too Much Work, Too Little Pay” which went down well at a recent national NUT Secretaries meeting. A further leaflet on the pay campaign should be out shortly.

The ‘Classroom Teacher’ network

The newsletter will advertise an e-mail, this blog and our website which will allow teachers to get in touch with the campaign and also post their own comments on our blog. We also have a Classroom Teacher account on youtube.

We have also set up a classroom teacher e-group which will allow members of the network to easily contact each other and exchange views and information.

We hope that teachers will forward our newsletter to colleagues and develop its circulation. We
want to make sure we know where it is being read, get feedback on what teachers have thought of it but, above all, get new teachers to join the network and write their own comments and articles.

Where there is support, we will also organise national or regional meetings around particular issues or campaigns so that we can bring teachers together and help plan a way forward. We can also produce material to be distributed at NUT Conference, although our main focus is going to be on classroom teachers rather than national NUT events.

We hope this initiative can help build a network of classroom teachers working together to defend our colleagues and to build a union ready and prepared to take action to change our pay, our workload, our union and our schools.

Martin Powell-Davies 07946 445488


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Preview Newsletter

The CPD newsletter going into schools soon can be seen


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Martin, Hank and Veronica

The general meeting of the West Sussex Teachers Association nominated Martin Powell-Davies and Hank Roberts for the Vice Presidential roles in the NUT.

Veronica Peppiatt was nominated as NUT Executive member for West Sussex and Surrey.

The young teachers' rep pointed out at the meeting that members have been waiting since conference for the union to call a strike over pay and they are beginning to wonder what is going on.

A member who had previously attended the assertiveness training course and came to the meeting very angry with the union about the condition of supply teaching in the county.

By the end of the meeting she was our delegate to the black teachers' conference and one of our delegation to annual conference.

She began on the outside looking in. She ended up on the inside looking out.

Our supply teachers are becoming radicalised by their treatment by West Sussex County Council.


Friday, September 14, 2007

far flung request for the helpline

West Sussex helpline is for stressed teachers in West Sussex to contact the union and the teacher support network when they need help.

However we do get calls from other areas.

The furthest flung query to the WSTA helpline this week was from a teacher in Wales who had found our number on the internet. She wanted to know whether it was part of her job to chase up absences. It was rather flattering but perhaps more NUT branches should consider having a helpline of their own.

The reply to her query is here

In short of course schools follow up on pupils who are absent but the paperwork is not done by teachers so they can concentrate on teaching.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


WSTA delegates did a blog of conference. This is a new idea and makes it possible for the members we left behind to keep abreast of what it happening.

Click Here

Mr Read emailed and asked me to mention his blog

Consider yourself mentioned!

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Phil Clarke is standing as a young teacher representative

All NUT members under the age of 35 are entitled to vote for the representatives of young teachers. I miss that target by 20 years but I hope Phil Clarke gets elected.

The following is Phil Clarke's statement:

I am seeking election as a recently qualified teacher who believes that the NUT has a vital role to play in defendingyoung teachers and the future of the comprehensive education system.

The main issues I want the union to campaign on for young teachers are:

* excessive workload
* the threat of performance related pay
* housing costs (especially in the South East)

The government seems determined to further divide and privatise the education system with the use of PFI schemes, trusts and academies. In contrast, we need publicly funded and accountable schools which co-operate not compete.

I am a Socialist and an active member of a hospital anti-cuts campaign group. I believe that it is only with a willingness to campaign and fight that the NUT will be able to play its vital role in securing an education system which meets the needs of all pupils.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Censorship in West Sussex

Here is a funny thing.

West Sussex teachers have a blog on and their employers have blocked them from viewing the site at school. WSTA represents about 4000 teachers in West Sussex.

This is extraordinary because the site has links to inservice training and ICT training courses teachers can take and their employers are just being heavy-handed.

Annoyingly they have also blocked this blog which has quizzes for pupils but I can post them elsewhere.

They have also blocked

If you have any thoughts on this you might like to email and give them your uncensored opinion on this!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Paranoia Paedophilia and other things beginning with P

I do have a concern about behaviour which my father or his would have regarded as innocent sending parents into a panic which they blatantly enjoy.

A pupil was leaving a football match at our local park. I asked him what the score was and got a mouthful of abuse from his mother. Then they left. Then they came back and she said that her poor son had told her that I was his teacher and she apologised. She still didn't see anything wrong with abusing - with glee - any adult who so much as spoke to her son.

And this wasn't one of those Sun readers who attack paediatricians because of limited reading ability. This was an articulate, concerned but just a bit paranoid parent.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006


School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay has been relaunched in view of the government's intention to tighten the pay regime in schools so that teachers who are "merely satisfactory" are not to get annual increments. They do mess around with the language don't they. Satisfactory is a grade you would give to someone who was doing OK not to someone who ought to be penalised.

Apparently stopp also stands for Society of Texans Opposed to Private Prisons! We're with them!


Sunday, July 23, 2006

WSTA on Wikipedia

Wikipedia is fast becoming the standard online repository of all knowledge and wisdom. Although it contains much that is inaccurate, the rigorous scrutiny each new entry received from around the world means that inaccuracies do not remain on the books for long.

There is even a page about the West Sussex Teachers Association

And like everyone else on the internet, you can edit it.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New RIG Proposals

From August, automatic pay progression will be scrapped. You haven't been consulted about this, parliament hasn't voted for it, the NUT has not been invited to discuss it. This is another present from the people who brought us TLRs, abolished your recruitment and retention allowance and scrapped the top two points from the Upper Pay Scale.

Full documentation of proposals and deadlines are at:

Click on the link and tell them what you think!

Ealing NUT have sent out a suggested resolution which schools might wish to use:

Model motion for schools/union branch meetings

New RIG Proposals*

“This meeting rejects the latest proposals on Performance Management from the government via its Rewards and Incentive Group (RIG) of social partners. We particularly regret that leaders of TUC-affiliated teacher unions (NASUWT and ATL) have met with government to agree these proposals whilst knowingly excluding the biggest classroom and head teachers’ unions.

We particularly reject:

The new mandatory three hours per year of teacher observations, on top of OFSTED or Local Authority surveillance.
The new requirement for middle-managers to determine the pay level and incremental progression of their colleagues.
The DfES’ rushed deadline for consultation of 12 July

We call on the NUT to:

a. immediately conduct a full-membership action ballot to implement NUT policy on performance management

b. seek support from the headteachers’ union, the NAHT, to implement such action if these changes are introduced in a revised School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document by September.

c. To produce press and campaign materials highlighting the detrimental effect on workload and industrial relations these proposals will bring.”

Send To:

NUT General Secretary

Hamilton House

Mabledon Place


WciH 9BD