Fighting education cuts

Sharpening up our act

Over 15,000 people marched through London last Saturday to protest against the government’s education cuts and refusal to fund the teachers meagre 2.7% pay ‘rise’ (in real terms a pay cut).

Just the following Monday our much loved education secretary, Gillian Shephard, gave a speech urging school governors not to flinch at sacking teachers. She attacked some teachers for not properly implementing the government’s imposed national curriculum and Standard Achievement Tasks (SATs). Well spotted, Gillian. Perhaps this is because the tests are educationally backward and increase teachers’ workload to an unbearable level.

The campaign against Sats was initiated by rank and file teachers and parents. Refusal to implement the tests forced the government to backtrack - until the union bureaucracies settled one by one.

The present attack on education has even brought former Conservatives onto the streets. On the platform in Hyde Park on Saturday many admitted to having voted Tory, but never again. Unfortunately for them, Labour offers only the same cuts. That is why a strong campaign on the streets is needed.

The march was a good beginning, but headteachers, governors and parents are mistaken if they think they can win this battle by appealing to the better judgement of Gillian Shephard and other Tory MPs. Recent struggles should have shown even former Tories how disastrous this avenue is.

Cutbacks are not restricted to education. Most notably, the government has chosen to attack the health service and nurses’ pay at the same time.

All workers are angry at the destruction of these vital services and the insulting pay offers made to both nurses and teachers. We need to organise that anger into a force which can put the Tories and their likely successors, the Labour Party, on the run.