Teachers on Strike: a struggle for the future of teaching? (FORUM 3)

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Publication date: September 1, 2013

HOWARD STEVENSON

Teachers in England and Wales are involved in the largest campaign of industrial action since the mid-1980s. At the heart of their grievances are government plans to abolish a national framework for teachers’ pay and the removal of important safeguards relating to working conditions. Wider questions of workload and pensions are also involved. This article argues that the changes to teachers’ pay and working conditions cannot be divorced from the wider objective of establishing a largely privatised system of state-subsidised schooling. Such a goal is based on a much-changed vision of teaching, which in turns assumes a low-cost, flexible and fragmented workforce. The article seeks to link the changes proposed to teachers’ pay and conditions to wider changes in the nature of teaching as work and the future of teaching as a profession. It argues that the teachers’ pay dispute opens up important possibilities to interrupt the trajectory of current policy and to create spaces to present alternative visions of the future of teaching and what a democratic and public education system might look like.

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