‘We know our shit': Teachers could strike if schools impose teaching styles

NEU concerned about bias towards 'knowledge-rich', teacher-led, whole-class teaching

knowledge-rich learning

A teaching union has voted to support strikes in schools that seek to "impose teacher-led instruction" and curtail its members' professional freedom to use a range of teaching styles.

The NEU is concerned that the Department for Education is using its curriculum fund to support curriculum materials that are "knowledge rich" and have "whole-class teaching at their core".

The union claims it “shows a clear bias to a particular style of teaching, and takes away a teacher’s professionalism and freedom to use a range of teaching styles and techniques, including creative, enquiry-based instruction”. 

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One teacher told the NEU conference in Liverpool that she is off sick with stress after a “year of hell” when a multi-academy trust took over her school and began telling her “what, when and how” she could teach.

Sarah Prior, from Bedford, said she was a “proud primary teacher in a deprived area” but told delegates how she had lost “creativity and autonomy” in what she was allowed to teach.

“I felt shackled and have recently been signed off work with stress," she said. "I watched how my school changed from being inclusive and creative.”

'We know our shit'

Ms Prior was speaking in favour of the motion on workload and pedagogy, which was passed by an overwhelming majority, and calls for teachers to be given more autonomy in the classroom.

It calls for school groups that wish to oppose any attempt to impose a school-wide ‘teacher-led instruction’ teaching style to take action ‘up to and including strike action.’

Joint president Kiri Tunks, presiding over the debate, discouraged members from using “colourful language” after NEU Durham member Nick Jones told the conference he wasn’t the only person in the hall who thought “CPD is bollocks”.

He said: “As teachers, we know our shit and should be able to say that. I have known experienced teachers be told, ‘That is not how we do things’.”

The motion also calls for a solution to the workload crisis and says the "most effective way for teachers to tackle workload is for them to take control of their profession and professionalism". 

Speaking in favour of the motion, Anthony Dowling, from Gateshead NEU branch, said: “The government doesn’t tell architects how to build houses, or doctors how to hold surgeries, so why tell teachers how to teach?”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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