OK so I know this isn’t really a feminist story, although 87% of primary and 57% of secondary school teachers are women, but the BBC News coverage of the NUT‘s strike action today has absolutely enraged me. Rather than focusing on the NUT’s demands or teacher dissatisfaction, they blathered on and on about what a terrible disruption the strike had been to parents, businesses and pupils. IT’S ONE FUCKING DAY! One day is not going to make a difference to pupils’ performance in exams, it is not going to destroy a family’s livelihood, it is not going to bring a cafe which relies on local schools for lunchtime custom to its knees. In fact, the claims that businesses had lost money were frankly ludicrous – Sheffield city centre was full of teenagers out shopping this afternoon.
The proposed pay increase for teachers is below the rate of inflation, meaning it actually amounts to a pay cut. Anyone who has any contact with teachers or those who work in schools will know that teachers work ridiculously hard, a situation which isn’t helped by New Labour’s obsession with planning and targets. Teachers at the primary school where my mum is a teaching assistant actually have to take one afternoon off every week to plan, leaving TAs to take lessons – which they are of course capable of doing, but they are unqualified and expected to do so on a pay increase that only applies for the hours they spend teaching.
And having said this isn’t really a feminist issue, the vast majority of TAs are women – another example of women’s work being undervalued?
Anyway, rant over, I return you to feminist service as normal.