Saturday, 11 April 2009

NUT intend strike action over SATs

The Daily Mail reports that the country's biggest teaching union is today expected to give the go-ahead for a controversial boycott of the national testing system. Members of the National Union of Teachers are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action to scupper SATs for seven and 11-year-olds.

But Schools Secretary Ed Balls told NUT members gearing up for what is being seen as their biggest battle yet with the Government that they cannot just refuse to comply with the law. Government lawyers are considering the legality of the boycott amid claims teachers may be in breach of their employment contracts if they refuse to abide by national education policy. The boycott would involve refusing to administer SATs in spring 2010 for more than one million primary school children unless ministers agree to axe them.

The country's biggest head teachers' union will put a similar industrial action call to its members in May. In a speech to the NUT annual conference yesterday, Bill Greenshields, the union's ex-president, urged members to back the boycott. 'We will end this child abuse,' he said.

But the planned action has split the teaching profession. Other unions fear ministers will be less likely to implement changes to SATs to avoid being seen as bowing to union pressure. Mr Balls has given clear hints he wishes to change the testing system and league tables accompanying results but has said he has 'no intention' of abandoning tests in some form.

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