Teachers must fight on

ACTIVISTS of the National Union of Teachers will meet this weekend to assess the outcome of the union’s ballot to end the boycott of standard achievement tasks. Although the leadership was expected to win the ballot, the three to one majority was a shock.

A big vote to continue with the boycott would not only have been a blow against Tory educational policies but also the NUT leadership. However the campaign against Sats is far from over. There is still mass opposition to the tests from both teachers and parents.

Over 150 people lobbied the union executive on Wednesday. Afterwards 200 attended a rally and unanimously agreed that the boycott should go on. Already staff in 15 London schools have voted to continue the action.

The commitment of the NUT leadership to the Sats boycott was always in doubt. The anti-Sats campaign was started by teachers and parents four years ago without any assistance from the leadership, and in the end the NUT leadership sold its members a ‘promised’ review of the tests. Yet Dearing did not listen to classroom teachers previously and left the overall framework of the national curriculum in place.

The Sats boycott had become a major focus for opposition to the Tories’ educational changes. The vote to end it now allows them greater scope to carry out their attack. Redundancies and massive cuts as well as performance-related pay are already planned.

Teachers who voted to continue the boycott need to be organised to carry on the campaign and win the NUT back to a boycott position. The anti-Sats campaign has always been the property of classroom teachers and parents, not of union leaderships.

Tony Coughlin