Great to be at a joint Reading & Wokingham meeting on the strike today. Meeting number 6 for me and meeting number 4 for Rosa and Clara (3 this week). It's been a gruelling programme (for me and them) - school, then meeting, then bed - each night but the strength of feeling in each meeting is really energising.
Reading/Wokingham was no exception, with strong opposition to the government's dismantling of state education, and equally strong support for strike action to demand national terms and conditions for teachers in all schools, colleges and academies, and increased school funding.
A real strength of the meeting was bringing members of two different associations together. Whilst it may have been easier for Wokingham colleagues (being based in a Wokingham school on the edge of Reading), there was a definite benefit to having members of both associations in the room together.
Not only was there a clear sense of solidarity across the room, there were also a wide variety of different schools represented, from small primaries to large secondaries. This led to a useful discussion of different tactics that might be appropriate in different types of schools.
For large schools, we discussed:
- Having assistant Reps or 'strike co-ordinators' for each department
- Having a staffroom ballot box
- Dividing the school membership list between a team of activists
- New teachers using NQT/trainee training meetings to spread the word across the school NQT/trainee teams
For smaller schools, we discussed:
- Having an event - 'strike party' / free lunch / tea and cakes - to fill in ballots together
- The Rep speaking individually to every member of staff
- All going for a drink together on a Friday to discuss the ballot
- The importance of talking to parents and the school community (especially in primaries)
Some suggestions were appropriate regardless of school size:
- Having a staffroom chart or 'totaliser' to show the number of ballots returned -staff can add a star/sticker/smiley face as appropriate when they return their ballot
- Keeping a ticklist of members to log when they have been spoken to about the ballot and when they have returned their ballot
At the start of the meeting, Wokingham joined Reading and a huge number of other associations in voting to nominate Kevin Courtney for General Secretary of the NUT. All in all, a great meeting!