The education trade unions play an important part in the affairs of a school much of

which goes unrecognised by many analysts of the education system. In the first

section of this part of my autobiography I shall establish the nature of the education

trade unions, how they primarily function as professional associations, and then

determine in detail important roles that these trade unions fulfil.

The second section is short but very important:- Educational Advance - The

Importance of Teacher's Welfare and the part Trade Unions play in ensuring that

Welfare. I shall be examining this in light of the three overarching themes:- Quality,

Equal Opportunities and Motivation.

Finally there will be a section on the New Right from my trade union perspective.

Trade Unionists love buzz words, they like to quote abbreviations with an air of

authority; these abbreviations are at the end of Section 8C before the appendices.


Before I describe the different roles the trade union offered in schools, as background

in appendix 8A I have drawn up a personal history of my involvement in the broad

trade union movement; I will refer to it as the need arises. In appendix 8B there is a

description of the NUT structure so if terms/job titles are confusing please refer to this


Throughout this section I am going to make reference to the NUT because for the

most part and for my greater participation that was the union I belonged to and held

positions. For various reasons I think the NUT, or a teaching union with a similar

structure, has to be the future for teacher collectivisation but I do not wish to decry

the work of the other unions. I made brief reference to union divisions in appendix 8B

but at the chalkface there is little difference in the work of the unions. Sadly,

throughout the country the NUT and the NAS/UWT are usually more purposeful

depending on the characteristics of the representative and her/his dynamism and not

on fundamental differences of union policy; this makes the division even more crazy!!

What is a Trade Union - a Dilemma?

The right for a trade union to exist is enshrined in the Charter of the International

labour Organisation which most world governments sign an agreement to - even if

they don't follow it. These rights are article 84 which gives people in the same

workplace the right to collectivise and article 99 which gives representatives of those

collectives the right to represent their members in wage bargaining. In fact the British

government did not negotiate with the teacher unions evn though they signed the ILO


To fully understand the roles of a trade union we must be realistic about the primary

reason for the establishment of trade unions, and that is as a working-class

organisation fighting the capitalists. I am not simply sloganising here. Capital and

labour are intertwined(I often think of them in terms of the yin-yang symbol). Capital

invests in a business and they need the labour to work in the business in order to

make the commodities to produce the profits. The less wages and the more

productivity the more the capitalist makes(the surplus value) and vice versa. In

industry workers uniting in trade unions and demanding more wages and a greater

share of the profits from increased productivity hits capital at its heart - its profits.

Fundamentally capital is at the mercy of an organised workforce who might withdraw

their labour but equally the workforce needs capital to pay them so they can feed

their families. The struggle between capital and labour is the basis of politics in the

contemporary world so a trade union is a political organisation. Trade unions have

fought for/been given the right to exist (UN charter above), and are classified as

non-political organisations so there is a dilemma.

In the industrial sector the trade union weapon of withdrawal of labour is a direct

threat to the basis of the capitalist system - its profits, but what about the NUT in the

education sector? The teaching situation in the state sector is not an immediate

profit-making sector despite the efforts of the monetarists, however the withdrawal of

labour is a very serious threat to social stability. What does society do with thousands

of discontented adolescents on the streets? How many families can trust teenagers

at home on their own day in day out? How many shops could risk the increased theft

with these adolescents let loose if teachers withdrew labour? So although at first sight

teaching unions might not have a place in the class struggle scenario, indirectly they

do have a great deal of power, and that is before we start considering the affect on

society of the withdrawal of education. And to consider that we only have to look at

South Africa where a justifiable policy of disruption of apartheid education, where

children were encouraged by the ANC to withdraw from the enemy's education

system, has now left a generation of unemployable youth whose lack of education

also prevents them from supporting their own government.

So despite the powerful weapon that teacher trade unionists possess in terms of the

havoc their strike would cause, in the UK it is very rarely used especially when you

consider that since 1979 there have been fewer jobs, their pay structure has been

eroded and the teacher workload has increased significantly. Of course this inaction

is based on the nature of the membership who are primarily middle-class, mortgaged

up to the hilt, and in general not noted for their aggression within the class struggle;

there have been notable historical exceptions.

So in practice what the NUT(and the other teacher unions) has become is a

professional association advising members and representing them in legal situations.

The stereotypical "cloth-cap" union, such as the miners, does not apply to the

practice of the NUT, however certain political forces like to portray the NUT in this

way such as when there is industrial action in support of a wage claim. Also though

nowhere near as powerful there are elements within the NUT who would like to see

their union taking a radical position of grass roots action, but they are counter to the

general flow of opinion within the NUT.

Despite, in my view, the NUT offering better professional services than the other

unions, they are not seen by a significant proportion of teachers as being professional

for one simple reason - they will not reject the strike weapon. Although, in practice, it

takes a great deal for the NUT Executive to use that weapon, they see it as essential

to their negotiation process. Unions, such as AMMA, who offer less professional

services in my view, are able to poach some members simply by saying they will not

strike. Because AMMA do not strike they call themselves a professional association

yet if you were to compare the professional services offered the NUT demonstrably

offers more, simply examine the informed literature the NUT produces for example.

The term, professional association, is a media term designed to divide the profession.

Is it not professional to fight for better quality education even if that means striking? I

think so, but in practice strikes are only for money although that would not be the

case if the more radical had their way.


Education trade unions have moved away from the class struggle nineteenth century

roots, and the importance of the union is now in the diversity of roles that it fulfils, I

will try to describe these with reference to my own involvement.









The union representative in a school is the most essential aspect of NUT work. How

the representative relates to the management structure is the key to the effectiveness

of many of the positive aspects of trade union work. Unfortunately in the two cases I

have been involved in, some aspects of the NUT's work did not happen because

there was no effective relationship between the representative and the management.

The Brixton Comprehensive NUT adopted a stereotypical trotskyist position of

confrontation, and at Hove Comprehensive the stereotypical weak headmaster could

only control through bullying and not through personnel skills; both of these positions

created distrust and a lack of meaningful dialogue.

From my personal experience many trade union reps are disillusioned with their own

career positions. It is not clear to me which comes first the lack of career

advancement or the position of union representative, but apart from the

politically-driven element within the trade union movement many representatives are

caring teachers first. Although the disillusionment can lead to aggression on

occasions, because the position of representative is so tenuous (s)he must adopt a

conciliatory stance at all times (unless you have the situation that you had at Brixton

Comprehensive where the representative could call the school out on action because

of the unusual constitution of the school branch). This conciliatory approach develops

negotiating skills but at the same time to develop an effective climate for members

the representative must find aspects of the work which benefit the management.

Even in my impossible situation this was true. The headmaster would be trying to

intimidate a member through disciplinary procedures. As part of this procedure the

NUT representative would be invited to be present. The common sense of the

representative prevented the justifiable anger of the member being vented on the


Information is always a key commodity in employment relations. Seething resentment

about management's actions and responses can explode, one role of the

representative is to inform management in a tactful manner the results of their

actions. This can defuse the situation if management's intentions had been


In the reflective mode of a professional autobiography I shall try to analyse my own

failings at Hove Comprehensive. It was my first position as representative and at the

same time I had moved back into the dark ages of East Sussex from Brixton.

Combining my ignorance with the level of ascendancy I had seen at the Brixton

Comprehensive NUT I approached the role of representative from a stance of

righteousness and true negotiation. The righteous position I took was to assume that

the headmaster would follow the employer's code of practice as set out by the local

authority(known as the Burgundy Book in East Sussex), and the true negotiation

misapprehension I had was that when the headmaster held representatives' meetings

with the union reps he actually wanted to discuss with them the issues. My

assessment of the reality of both situations was that this headmaster did not want to

follow proper codes of practice and that reps' meetings were there as with other

committees for him to issue dictums to the unions, and the reps were there to carry

these out.

In both matters retrospectively I made mistakes. Firstly I would quote the Burgundy

book at him and he would resent this. When I was finally forced to meet with the

personnel officer for East Sussex he had already been informed of this by my

headmaster as some form of grievance. The local authority by then had no teeth

other than conciliation but to my mind certain ground rules ought to be followed in

employment relations, and I know my headmaster didn't want to do this as it

restricted his control.

With regards to the negotiation my inexperience showed more in my understanding of

the process. At Brixton Comprehensive the NUT were negotiating from a position of

strength because the union branch (with its deficit model see appendix 8A) were

willing to strike. Although it never happened I am sure the Brixton Comprehensive

management would have been aware of the possibilities. At Hove Comprehensive

there were no such possibilities so to have entered the reps meetings with the

consideration that they were negotiation was a mistake. As a consequence my

expectations of the negotiations were too high and this led to frustration. When I was

in the communist party one of my comrades told me that my members were using me

and that if they weren't prepared to support the rep with more than words I should

resign; in the end I did.

Again in retrospect I wanted to be the rep, I knew that the way the headmaster was,

and the NUT was the only way he could have been brought under control. But I made

a fundamental mistake as a member of a mass movement (even a small one as a

school branch) I did not properly evaluate the weakness of the members, their lack of

willingness to fully support me, so although on a number of occasions they were

individually prepared to sign letters concerning the conduct of the headmaster in

running the school, in relation to the union the headmaster's confrontational

brinkmanship worked; they were not prepared to go beyond letter signing even when

they saw my job was threatened by the headmaster. In retrospect this reticence was

evidently true, I should have been aware of this and acted on it. I got carried away by

the fact that the NUT is a large body and ought to have had strength to combat the

poor practices of this headmaster but in my situation that strength meant nothing

because it was not the strength of branch membership ie the school staff.

However in my own defence all the teachers up to and including the senior deputy

headmaster were all supportive of me where they could be without being in conflict

with the headmaster, and I take that as a compliment to my reasonableness and their

recognition of the headmaster's blind spot.

In conclusion the representative has an important role in conveying information from

members to the administration, and supporting members in their dealing with the

administration, In education there are two processes - teaching and learning. A happy

and motivated group of teachers provides positive teaching, and a representative can

help with this because they can develop the trust of the teachers, and smooth away

unnecessary problems in employment relations.


In appendix 8B I looked at the union structure, and I want to note an important part of

that structure which is the policy created at conference. Although this is policy and

not practice it demonstrates a position that the union would like to adopt. From this

policy lay and full-time officials at all levels of the union negotiate with different strata

of the education service, and through this they protect the interests of members as

much as possible.

Many school representatives recognise that the most inefficient part of the education

service is the under-utilisation of the teachers' motivation. Creative or innovative

teaching often demands great amounts of time (as does being a union

representative), and it is teacher motivation which provides this time as such work is

usually considered extra-curricular. Unfortunately, especially in recent years (since

the ERA in 1988), there have become greater and greater demands on teacher time,

and although the education service has managed to increase the output of teachers

this has been because of teachers' professionalism and not from teachers'

motivation. In my view management application has increased on the negative aspect

of management skills such as pressurising ill teachers to attend school - again by

appealing to their professionalism, and reducing the support work such as supply

teaching thus applying peer pressure from colleagues who lose cover lessons, but

there has still been a great increase in stress illnesses and early retirement. The

motivation of the teaching profession has increasingly become a factor. Between

1988 and 1992 my enforced workload increased by between 10 and 20 hours a

week, yet willingly I did extra work on the anti-racism when in London for no pay,

simply out of motivation. In the late 70's and early 80's such motivated extra work

was not unusual among colleagues, but now the only extra work I see is from the

occasional teacher who has spotted a niche in the government-inspired "innovation"

field where the purpose of these teachers appears to be to work hard to get out of the


This erosion into the teachers' time is clearly a traditional union issue ie the yin-yang

balance between capital and labour and the upper hand designating the direction of

the surplus value or "profit". From the above description if teachers were not

overcome with unnecessary bureaucracy and government-directed political change

then greater and more creative innovations could be brought into the curriculum. In

practice the NUT policies exist for the control of this time but they are not able to be

enforced for the usual reason:- The only practical way in which NUT policies can be

enforced is ultimately if the school branch are prepared to take industrial action to

enforce their implementation. I use the word ultimately - I am not advocating political

control by a trade union along the lines of Brixton Comprehensive (especially as it

was not majority politics ie democratic), a weapon need only be demonstrated once

and it doesn't have to happen again. Implementing policies need only be enforced


This sounds radical politics for a thesis but what we are talking about are policies that

teachers want for the improvement of teaching and education. Sadly in practice

industrial action usually only occurs when directed by the Executive, and that is for

pay so although the union has policies which would clearly improve the education of

children they are never directly implemented. Yet as described in the beginning of B)

they are implemented indirectly by being part of the agenda of representatives

whenever they are in discussion with the education service.

The limiting factor for the improvement of education, as in many other state sectors is

money. Being public sector, education does not aim to make a profit although

according to monetarist theory prevalent in 1979 the public sector should be

abolished and all activity should be profit-motivated. Opting out, LMS and other

changes clearly point to this so the educational advances proposed by the union will

continue to take a back seat because the greatest expenditure in education is

teachers' salaries and that is where the attacks will be coming.

In conclusion the union adopts policies which reflect teachers' attitudes on all aspects

of education not simply the media image of unions wanting more money for less

hours. Sadly these policies are not directly implemented because the fundamental

union structure of the school branch is not strong-minded enough so that the

educational advances proposed in such policies can only make strides by being an

integral part of the agenda of union workers at all level of negotiation. These

educational policies protect the interests of the teachers, and these interests

simplistically are:- To provide an income for their family and to provide better

education for their students.


By the clinical/theoretical Marxist position a trade union is the organisation of the

working-class, and therefore from a revolutionary analysis a trade union by nature is

an agent of change - revolutionary change. In practice this revolutionary theory is

very far from the day-to-day working situation of the NUT in the staff room. However

there is no doubt that in many sensibly-run schools the working relations and

employment conditions, and hence education, are enhanced by meetings with union

reps putting forward helpful criticisms contributing to positive change.

But to understand more fully the impact of the NUT as an agent for change we need

to consider two factors:-

1) NUT resource material

2) Factors of education change pertaining to the NUT

One important role of the representative that I did not refer to above is as a resource

base for members. Usually these resource matters refer to pensions, maternity leave

and other such traditional union areas but the NUT also provides many pamphlets

and even training courses on contemporary educational issues. At one time working

with Brighton I was a facilitator for a workshop on the implications of the ERA for the

classroom teacher. But it is mainly the pamphlets I want to refer to. Since 1979 the

government seems to have adopted a policy of ongoing disruption in state

education(not the private sector!!). Government legislation is not the most palatable

reading for the average teacher who has had a hard day at school, then has to come

home to the jobs of parenting and marking books. If they want to learn about what is

happening many teachers simply look at the union literature, and this is literature they

trust as informing them about matters in their own interest. In fact the NUT literature

has reached such a high standard that they now produce their own educational

journal which, I believe, is considered in academic circles. So the union has a role in

which its analytical services, in the form of literature impact on the grass roots


2) Factors of education change pertaining to the NUT

Skilbeck[pp3&4 in MMR - Policies for the Curriculum edited by Moon, Murphy and

Raynor] - describes various metaphors for change such as the "teacher experiencing

the shunting locomotive" and "pendulums, swings and roundabouts" he considers

"are in favour". He reflects that "education reforms in fact often stop short of the point

where fundamental changes occur". But his point concerning the introduction of the

micro is most interesting - "the revolutionary potential for transforming pedagogy is

mediated through teacher values, skills and attitudes, resource constraints, and the

technical imbalance between hardware and software ". In the UK the micro has not

been as educationally successful as it should have been because not enough extra

money was provided for the hardware but perhaps more importantly no real

consideration was given for the expertise of the teachers. Basically they neither

trained the teachers nor paid them for organising the computer system. Paid

positions like Network Manager don't exist in education yet are commonplace, senior

and well rewarded in industry.

As a teacher under the recent political changes in education since 1979 I have felt

disempowered in my job after having been in a position early in my career where

self-empowerment was a practical reality. In line with Skilbeck's quote above

concerning the micro, if the teachers' skills and attitudes are not positively accounted

for then a reform cannot be complete. When I was in Hove I felt squeezed from all

sides, government legislation I disagreed with, a headmaster applying the worst form

of managerial tactics to impose on me, and sadly a change of approach of many

teachers to a disheartened acceptance of these worst aspects because the mortgage

depended on it. I saw this demotivated climate as an impossible place for positive

education reform yet change was happening. "Noteworthy in this context is the

increased trend toward community political-bureaucratic control of major educational

decisions and consequent uncertainty and ambiguity in the role of the specialist

professional educator" [Skilbeck in MMR p7] even if there are "occasional coalitions

on specific issues" [idem]. I claim you ignore the teacher and their organisations at

the peril of educational progress.

"What is most noticeable in the discussions on" policies for schooling "is the

realisation that an integrated, cross-sectoral approach is for educators, economists,

social planners, business people and unionists to get together" [Skilbeck MMR p12].

He was writing about trends for the OECD, let us hope his analysis is correct.

In this context what appears clear to me is that teachers need to be involved in what

they are implementing. Education theory suggests that students should be

encouraged to own what they are doing yet the increasing trend of government is to

move away from teacher ownership. The National Curriculum was introduced without

the involvement of classroom teachers, and is still having major problems - not the

theory of a nationally-agreed curriculum but the attempt to impose by think-tanks

irrelevant classroom practice. As far as I'm aware that one is still being fought.

Within this cauldron of laws, hierarchical pressure and teacher participation or

rejection is one process of change in education. In C1) I demonstrated the manner in

which union literature can influence grass roots teacher opinion so we have a clear

avenue of how the union is in some way an agent of change. Union representatives,

working in cooperation with the headteacher can help the staff cope with the change

and help avoid any unnecessary friction - in a situation of good relationships.

One further example of this is that I believe that ex-union Executive members are

asked to be on public platforms; it is common practice that senior union officials are

recognised as experts in their field.

I have only looked here at the specific issue of how the union rep can represent and

help inform on matters relating to change, part 3 gives a more complete analysis of

change philosophy and practice whilst in part 9 I examine how teachers receive

change and consider a blueprint for a particular aspect of change.


A union meeting has a powerful atmosphere. If you walk into one you know that

people are discussing matters that are of import to them. Sometimes as school rep I

have called meetings because the hierarchy is asking me to convey information,

sometimes it is a matter of course(not had one for 6 weeks?), but mostly they are

meetings called because an issue is causing great concern.

Let's consider what happens in these "issue" meetings. Various people arrive angry,

they shout about their anger and try to convince union colleagues that they want their

support. This cannot be done simply by shouting and cajoling, reasoned argument

must enter into the fray somewhere. Gradually a structure appears in which argument

and not emotion prevails until finally a motion for action happens. Following this the

representative must present this motion for action to the headmaster, let us suppose

it is a letter describing injustices signed by all members of the union. By the time this

whole procedure has been completed the anger and aggression has been diffused,

and the representative, hopefully a skilled negotiator with a working relationship with

headmaster, is using her/his skills to gently convey the point that initially was

producing anger and, on occasions, potential for violence. The support group nature

of such meetings is also an important factor of a good working union.

The other important example is one referred to above where a member comes into

conflict with the headmaster. Written into all good conditions of service is the right of

the member to take in a friend or representative, and as also explained above the

headmasters usually prefer this because of the protection afforded by the

representatives. An experienced representative because (s)he works for the best

interests of the member will usually act as a calming influence even though on a

number of occasions with my own headmaster I often felt that physical violence was

the best solution (joke??).


The NUT has national committees made up of voted members eg the Equal

Opportunities Committee etc. As such these committees have informed members

who can express the views of general members. The nature of representation is

accountability so reporting back is an integral part of the process, and discussions on

report backs allow for information/opinion to cross all levels of union hierarchy for a

representative view.

Experienced conference watchers can judge by changes in opinion, from platform

speeches and other yardsticks the mood of the members.

The main reason however that I can say that the NUT expresses teachers' opinion is

because I have been involved in the union process and see the way the levels of

accountability can work. Sometimes however the union does formulate the opinion.


Sadly I feel that this is the main reason that teachers join the NUT, to get legal

representation if something goes wrong. In my view this aspect of the union's work

has increased drastically in recent years. Although not involved in the casework side

at Brixton Comprehensive I cannot remember the level of casework activity that was

occurring at Hove Comprehensive. Clearly one unusual aspect at Hove

Comprehensive was the misuse of his powers by the headmaster but the other was

the climate. Children's rights had become a much stronger issue than it was in the

late 70's. Back at Brixton Comprehensive I knew of teachers who stepped over the

line and used slight physical violence against students. Because Afro-Caribbean

students come from homes where physical violence is an accepted norm in the

culture this violence at school was often respected. Now those same teachers would

lose their jobs. Teenage girl students living out fantasies have created tissues of lies,

and although they may have recanted later the impact on the private lives of the

teacher concerned has been drastic. The hardship caused to professionals at some

stage must be measured against the small number of sex crimes that occurred in our

schools. The limitation placed on day-to-day human contact by the claims and

counter-claims freezes the trust between teacher and student. Here at Botswana

Secondary School we have a joke as I pass and jokingly clip a student gently "That's

the sixth time today you would have lost your job in the UK." My relationship with the

students is not hurt here by the physical contact in fact they think I'm soft for not

using the stick - but soft only up to a point.

Because of this unbalanced investigation of professionals the legal protection, both

from full-time officials and the representatives at school level, is now an essential part

of union work.


This has now become an important part of the union's work, watching what is

happening next through the legislative or ancillary pipelines and advising teachers

how best to cope. Union literature and memoranda have been on a massive increase

since the ERA and ensuing legislation and practice. But I did note that many teachers

abdicated responsibility to the NUT for these matters, this trust was a good and bad



I realise that I have painted a rosy picture of union practices. There is one major

problem in the union which allows for bad practices - most of the members are not


The consequence of this is that a few members gain more power simply through

persistent activity. Political activists are able to control certain of the Associations

because they are the only ones willing to attend - because of their political

commitment. Out of an association of over 200 members we struggled to make a

quorum of 15. In some ways when we did our job well - association newsletters and

reports - even less attended. There was no doubt that increased pressure of work

(post-ERA) was a major factor in this.

Therefore the democracy and accountability I described above has limited foundation

but I still maintain that, in general, aspects of the union such as expressing teachers'

opinions they do have correct.


To conclude this section I want to examine briefly the situation of trade unions here in

Botswana. Seeing what is happening here makes me realise the many advantages of

a union that I gravely criticised when a member, and probably would again if I

rejoined and became active again.

Botswana has two unions, one associated with the secondary sector and one

associated with the primary. Following my experiences at Hove Comprehensive I am

wary of union involvement, and although in an inspection meeting all staff were

encouraged to join a union by a senior education officer the word around was don't

as union members were targets. With my contract being dependent on a stroke of a

pen in Gaborone I have not followed my interest.

However categorically I would say this country needs a union for many things which

are automatically assumed in the UK. My relations with my headmaster are now on

an excellent footing if I am any judge. My contract states that I can be transferred to

any part of the country but I am settled here in Francistown. With a supporting letter

from my headmaster I wrote to Gaborone asking if they wouldn't transfer me. They

sent me back a letter which said they couldn't promise this, but that they would try not

to transfer. The tone was good and it was a worthwhile exercise all round.

I quote this story because I want to talk about a serious problem I had with the

headmaster earlier, and I don't want you to think I'm always in trouble with

headmasters. Flu is a problem out here as elsewhere but your body becomes

immune to the native varieties of flu that go around so there might have been some

grounds for talking about Asian flu the other year other than racism. In my second

year here I had been asked to do the timetable (I had let slip that I wasn't leaving

Francistown for a holiday - the usual English ex-patriate practice). As a result 2-3

weeks of my holiday were lost doing this timetable, and at the start of the new year I

wasn't fully rested. I had a run-in with the boss because I was doing too much extra

work so after an acrimonious meeting - short and terse - I dropped the timetable

work; this did not inconvenience the school any because there was a committee who

were capable and proved so. But bosses here do not like this approach of teachers

making the decisions. Within two weeks I had caught the flu, and was off work for

three days. I had been absent the previous year but the then headmaster didn't care

so I didn't follow the conditions of service. The correct procedure is that you are

allowed one day's absence and then you must have a doctor's note for any remaining

days. Not knowing this I had written to the headmaster, after a colleague had told me

that the headmaster was angry, explaining that I was ill, and on the third day of illness

I went to the doctor who gave me a backdated note. When I showed the headmaster

the backdated note he accused me of unprofessional practice because of the

backdating, in fact the doctor had done it without thinking. As I previously said my

system was not immune to the flu here, and within a few weeks I became ill again

with the flu. I followed the correct procedures to the letter but this was the worst

attack of flu I have ever had. The result was that I had taken the offered day, gone to

the doctor and got a standard 3 day sick note from him and it came to Thursday and

I was still not fit to return to work on the Friday. I phoned my doctor who told me that

what I should do was to go back to work report to the headmaster that I was ill and

then come back to the doctor to get a sick note. The doctor also told me that the

headmaster had been phoning him asking him about the veracity of the note and

whether I was really ill. In the end I went to school on the Friday couldn't face going to

the headmaster and tried to teach. By 11.00am the students were refusing to ask me

questions because I was clearly so ill, and they told me to go home. I did and nothing

more was said. For a further two weeks I only half attended school getting through

the lessons but not able to contribute much more, and everyone including the

headmaster could see that I was not shirking - something he had accused me of in

this period. As I have said my relations are now good because I have worked through

it and proven myself.

I consider the headmaster contacting my doctor as being very unprofessional. This

unprofessionalism is further exacerbated by the fact that the doctor was private and a

husband of one of the teachers, and as such gained much business from teachers at

the school. It would hit his pocket if the headmaster caused problems for all his

patients. I changed doctors! At this stage I was insecure about my position. I had a

year to run on my contract yet I had decided I would like to remain in Botswana. Now

I accepted that if the headmaster didn't want me I should change schools but I was

frightened that he would have words behind the scenes and my contract would be

terminated. But who should I speak to? In England the answer is obvious - the union

rep, here not. If I wrote to Teaching Service Management (TSM) - my employers -

they would have links with the headmaster and this would make matters worse. In the

end I wrote to the British Council, as they had been agents for my employment in the

UK. I received a reassuring letter back from them, sufficiently so that I thought that if I

continued to work well here at Botswana Secondary School and yet the headmaster

still put in a bad recommendation, the British Council would be in my corner and I

might be able to get another contract elsewhere. As it turned out all this was

unnecessary but ..........

There has recently been an increase in the number of students reaching secondary

school standard - this is politically motivated. The Batswana want their children to

reach senior secondary school (see appendix 8C for an explanation of the school

system here), and they put pressure on the M.P.s. As a result this year more students

have qualified for senior secondary school but there is not the capacity. The

headmaster was informed that 70 extra students would come to Botswana Secondary

School in this year's form 3 and they sent two extra classrooms. We are not really

equipped to handle these students and provide them with the equivalent education of

previous years but there is no union to fight this decision. If they wish to alter the

standards to allow for more JC qualifiers more schools should have been built. We

have created one extra class and the other 36 students have been spread across the

board and we have 4 extra students in each class. Not an impossible situation but a

lowering of standards especially as the new 70 are probably of a lower standard than

the others. In a staff meeting discussion one teacher spoke up about the dangers of

more than 20 students in a workshop. His tact was lacking but his point was correct;

his stance was not liked by the headmaster, and there were difficult moments in the

meeting - and a bad situation for the teacher concerned.

This issue of numbers on role is a clear union issue but the question of the union

wasn't even raised; everyone accepted that if the government wanted to do this the

school would have to make it work whatever the consequences. In some ways this

resigned acceptance is good, it saves arguments, but educationally it is weak and a

union might have helped here.

The professionalism of teachers is brought into question by two aspects of

unprofessional behaviour on the part of teachers - sexual relations with the students

and drunkenness. The status of employment conditions of service is very unclear, I

believe there is a code of practice in place yet it doesn't seem to be used as both

these aspects of misconduct happen relatively regularly. The headmaster put up a

notice about a code of practice, and I was able to get hold of the East Sussex code of

practice and conditions of service for him so perhaps these aspects of unprofessional

conduct will disappear.

In Botswana there seems to be a greater misuse of power, and there is a need for the

limited controls of long-established employment relations in the UK. However the

political environment of Southern Africa is likely to prevent this. Mass action, such as

trade unions, is associated with violence as in South Africa. Throughout all the

independence struggles in this region Botswana has not been at war, and therefore

there is a great fear of violence as well as pride in this fact. Trade unions are seen

warily by the authorities as a possible source of violence, and the positive aspects of

their roles focussed on above don't happen; sad, really.

Conclusion to Part 8A

I have highlighted 7 roles that the NUT fulfils in schools, these are:-








I shall be using these 7 roles to develop my arguments in section 8B and 8C, as well

as in part 9.




In this section I want to talk about educational advance, I want to talk about the

improvement of work in the classroom. In the classroom there are students and

teachers who have clearly defined educational roles within that environment, the

students learn from the teachers. Because English education is so confused by

issues and problems this basic context is often forgotten - students learn from

teachers. If we are going to advance education then we have to improve the way

students learn from teachers, and there are two basic factors which can be improved

to help with this process. We can examine ways in which students can try to learn

more, and we can examine ways in which teachers can improve their teaching.

Before I move on I want to state categorically that these two factors are not, in my

view, of equal weight; it is my contention that English education is sliding downhill fast

because of the poor motivation of the students and without improving that motivation

there is little that can be done for the state of English education. Sadly most of the

students' motivation is outside the control of the teacher, factors such as employment

prospects, education dynamics in the home, peer group and media pressure are all

beyond the control of the teacher, and the teacher then faces varying degrees of

motivation and is told to teach. A very unfair situation.

But the teacher is in a situation to have some impact on this poor motivation, and this

is where the aspect of welfare comes in. In theory education concerns "leading out"

or some form of self-realisation, and again in theory this self-realisation process

should occur within all students ie equal opportunities. In practice we fight with the

badly-motivated but we also fight with unreasonable odds that are placed against the

teacher and it is these unreasonable odds which welfare affects.

Let us examine some of these unreasonable odds. If we want to give equal access to

learning to all students then the number of students in a class is clearly a factor so we

have the issue of class size. If the teacher is to prepare lessons for all the students

then preparation time(non-contact time) is an issue. If a teacher is continually

compromised within the work situation by misguided students making complaints

then this is an issue. Generally what's known as conditions of service all impinge on a

teacher's lesson. All of these are covered in the roles I described in section 8A.

And next we talk about the quality of the lesson. If the lesson is not prepared the

quality is less. If a teacher has no time to keep up-to-date with educational journals

then the quality suffers. If a teacher is attending meetings every night of the week and

is going home and having trouble making ends meet because there are fewer

allowances available then the quality of her teaching suffers.

The basic point of this section is this, if you are going to deliver an education service

with high quality and equal access for all students then the welfare of the teacher is of

secondary importance only to the motivation of the student. If you cannot provide that

welfare then your quality and opportunities must suffer.

Sadly for financial and political reasons a teacher has become less and less publicly

valued. A body in front of the class is all that management requires, the cheaper the

better (ie less experienced). Although education is making demands through TQM

they are not significantly addressing the issue of the resource which is delivering that

quality by providing the proper welfare and conditions of service for teachers. And

who is left to attempt to provide the proper welfare and working environment for

teachers - the unions. Unions provide an integral function in the quality of education

and yet they are paid for by the teachers and not the employers, whilst they are

continually attacked for not having the interest of the students at heart.

The BSI "define the output of an educational or training establishment as either the

programme, or the value added, or enhancement of competence, knowledge and

understanding gained by the person who undergoes the training"[BSI 1.2 p4]. This

dry bureaucratic definition of the output of an education system, totally in line with the

overall dehumanising approach of the BSI recommendations for education, still points

to quality through value addition and enhancement. Although not focussing to the

same extent as I do concerning the way of delivering quality ie through teachers, it

does state that a "key 'service' purchased is the academic and technical staff", and

states that "selection procedures ..... should form part of the quality system" [BSI

4.6.1 p10]. But apart from this there is little reference to encouraging this vital

resource. How can you expect to provide quality education by increasing paperwork

and devaluing the importance of teacher expertise - quality teaching?

The TUC have summed up their response to this Quality Challenge in the public

sector, "Workers who are underpaid, undervalued, overworked and alienated from

the organisation are unlikely to respond enthusiastically to the rhetoric of

'commitment culture' and 'quality first' whether it comes from the management or

unions" [TUC 2 p20]. "The solution lies partly in better pay and conditions, better

training, appropriate staffing and appreciation for the job done. These are all

longstanding union demands. However, if service quality is to be significantly

improved on a sustainable basis, it also requires direct and meaningful local

involvement of employees in decisions about the way services are managed. It also

requires the development of new and innovative alliances between unions and user

groups. This participation and empowerment feature of the drive for quality is

distinctive because it is often the management themselves who espouse it loudest"

[TUC 3 p20].

In this Quality debate the TUC have made clear the important union issues of welfare

which are essential for the advancing education but when the BSI standard is being

considered for education how can we possibly advance education when "it is

recognised that there are philosophical and practical differences between education

and training" yet "these real differences do not impact on quality systems to any

degree" [BSI 1.1 p4]. I think Pirsig has just dropped dead!

To conclude this section in terms of learning outcomes the trade union work has

shown me that the greatest asset in teaching is the classroom teacher. But not only

this I came to realise just how little that asset is valued. If education is to advance by

providing quality learning and equal opportunities then the system must find ways of

developing teachers so that they can use their abilities to promote that quality. This

will not overcome the malaise in English society's youth concerning the lack of

motivation but if we want quality then teachers are the only way to achieve. Paper

systems as specified by BSI might make improvements in certain areas that are

lacking because of not being defined but they will never provide the professionalism

and the high qualities such professionalism can deliver. The technical rationality of

quality assurance can never match the reflective professional. Unfortunately the

system has not made sufficient attempt to develop the reflective professional, and

trade union organisations are left to struggle for minimal welfare such as described in

b) protecting teachers' interests, providing escape valves(d), giving legal protection(f),

acting as a watchdog(g), expressing opinions in suitable representative forums(e),

and in general attempting to provide conditions of service to allow the true reflective

potential to flourish.



Much of my professional autobiography has been concerning change in one way or

another. In part 6 I was considering innovation with the anti-racist maths, in part 5 I

was looking at awareness training - changing consciousness about race issues, and

then with trade unions examining the effects of change on members and helping

them deal with those changes. And these changes were occurring as innovation

overload as a consequence of government legislation.

I see the race work as trying to start a change, and I see the trade union work more in

the lines of implementing change but preferably policy implementation and practice. I

draw this distinction because a trade union, despite the revolutionary zeal of some of

its members, does not instigate change, it is a traditional organisation of policy

implementation and practice. It is however part of the process of change because it is

usually involved at all levels as an adviser on the position of teachers. Usually, the

italics are important because the government has not particularly been consulting

with the unions despite the existing structures in place, and in my case at Hove

Comprehensive the headmaster was not consulting with the union meetings but

attempting to direct another way. So within this application of change we have the

role of the union representative(a), the union as an agent of change through its policy

c), and the union expressing the teachers' opinions through various committees and

consultative bodies(e).

Also I have looked at change in different ways. With the anti-racist maths we were

trying to start change from outside the institutions, with the awareness training and

other INSET work on EOPS I was trying to change from within, and with the union my

intention was to apply change in cooperation with the institution whilst at the same

time representing the interests of the members - I say intention because it was quite

clear that that never happened at Hove Comprehensive(see 8A and other

references). Having worked on change at these different levels in part 9 I shall

examine how teachers have received change and then consider a project and

blueprint for implementation but first I would like to examine the impact of the New

Right on change.


Since 1979 the New Right, through its educational journal The Sun, has had a great

deal of impact on education I want to try to examine how they have effected their

impact ie examine the processes of the New Right - politically know your enemy.

When considering the political direction of education policy since 1979 always start

by considering the platform this current government was voted on - monetarism. One

essential plaque of this money first mentality is that you must pay for what you get - in

other words the public sector must continually be under attack by any exponents of

this policy because the rich are being asked to pay for the poor through taxes.

Education is particularly galling for this breed of "economist" because they already

pay for their education privately yet they also have to subsidise the working-class

children through taxes. The health service also galls these people but they realise

that if you take all the money from the health service, private health plans such as

BUPA would be unable to afford expensive equipment such as dialysis machines. So

education is a prime target for the "pay for what you get" mentality.

Another aspect of the threat from education to these people is that if all people are

educated equally then why will their children get the jobs? The public school network

still provides many jobs in the civil service and the BBC for people whose

qualifications for such positions might not be so obvious if they were competing with

more well-educated people.

So the policy of monetarism shows a clear vested interest for a certain group of

people in English society. However these people are a minority, and on their own are

not sufficiently powerful to create a monetarist society without influencing a large

number of people but in my view they are the roots of New Right movement in

education - and the power they possess is the money that they are willing to invest to

ensure their interests.

Indirectly it is the investment of this money which, to my mind, characterises the

attitude of the New Right in Education. Whatever the claims and counter-claims

concerning centralisation the finance has moved back to the centre. Consider

Margaret Archer's view on the centralisation issue [quoted in Moon's article in MMR

on p 221]. In a centralised system "it was possible to describe educational interaction

as a political story, with character, plot and outcome, which could be told chapter by

chapter ....... Second it was possible to explain educational interaction in terms of the

changing interrelationships between the political structure and the structure of

educational interest groups. When dealing with decentralised systems the nature of

both description and explanation differs considerably. On the one hand interaction

cannot be described as a story(political or otherwise) because three different kinds of

negotiations are going on simultaneously and are taking place at three different levels

(those of the school, community and nation) as opposed to being restricted to the last

of these."

What has clearly happened through the ERA is that finance is much more under

centralised control and secondly the government has appropriated ultimate control of

the curriculum through the National Curriculum.

Previously finance went to local authorities, and how they handled their budget was

at their discretion. Simplistically this meant a Labour authority can conduct work the

government disagreed with such as the anti-racist work I was involved in. But now

budgets for schools are worked out by formula based on the number of students(age

weighted pupil units -AWPU), and these AWPU have very little slack, certainly not

enough slack to finance anti-racist work at the GLC level.

The other way education might get out of government control, and material such as

the anti-racist work become common-place, is through grass roots teachers grouping

together and altering classroom practice themselves(see Antony Cotton's article on

such an attempt in appendix 6I of the anti-racist maths section). To combat this

possibility the heavy-handed introduction of detailed volumes of the National

Curriculum for each subject with excessive box-ticking was supposed to so much

overburden classroom teachers that they would be unable to find the time to get out

of government control.

Now although teacher pressure has altered the frame of reference for the National

Curriculum, by default it is now accepted that the government bodies are the ones

doing the altering yet when I started teaching in 1976 classroom teaching was an

interaction between your department and the exam papers. Also an important aspect

of controlling wayward teachers such as my earlier(and current?) self is the "moving

goalposts" of the National Curriculum frames of reference. Unfortunately since

December 1992 I have little knowledge of the frames only that I believe the same

shape-shifting is still being adopted.

By holding the reins on these two aspects of education the government has

centralised to some extent but at the same time it allows the chimera of

decentralisation so on the one hand we have a national decision-making process

whilst at the same time we have school and community decisions occurring -

specifically the vote-winning "choice" argument.

The destabilisation of state education is also very important to the New Right for the

reasons of ensuring jobs for their own. I want to compare the tones of the two

speeches by James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher quoted in MMR Appendices 1

& 2.(Margaret Thatcher's speech is copied in appendix 8D).

Callaghan on MMR p273 "So that there should be no misunderstanding I have been

very impressed in the schools I have visited by the enthusiasm and dedication of the

teaching profession".

Thatcher on MMR p277 9 years later "Too often our children don't get the education

they need - the education they deserve. In Inner Cities ... that opportunity" given by a

good education "is all too often snatched from them by hard-left education authorities

and extremist teachers." She then followed this by several sentences of

rhetoric(invective?) which belongs more on the pages of the Sun than coming out of

the mouth of an educated person who was once a government education minister.

Callaghan continues on MMR p273 "I am concerned on my journeys to find

complaints from industry that new recruits from the schools sometimes do not have

the basic tools to do the job that is required." On the same page "there is the unease

felt by parents and others by the new informal methods of teaching which seem to

produce excellent results when they are in well-qualified hands but are much more

dubious when they are not."

Question - substantively what is the difference between the two positions presented

here? I maintain none but what about the tone? Clearly Thatcher is confronting the

teaching profession whereas Callaghan is working with it, the criticisms however are

the same.

This is a political question. Undoubtedly the market research approach of modern day

electoral politics concluded early in the Thatcher reign that the floating vote could be

attracted by attacks on the Left such as those quoted in her speech(see appendix

7D). They were clearly correct. Thatcher had a 100 seat majority in parliament in the

mid-80's with only 42% of the electorate voting Tory. Their analysis has been further

ratified by Jack Straw's attacks on teachers, the Labour party market research team

must also have concluded that teachers voting Labour are either going to remain

faithful or are not sufficient in numbers so Labour have joined the fray.

Attacking teachers in the state sector can only demotivate and destabilise, and

therefore the private sector can only benefit. And the private sector controls its

finances and the National Curriculum is not a requirement. Yet these are the two

platforms of state sector control under the ERA.

Callaghan quoted Tawney on MMR p272 "What a wise parent would want for their

children so the State must wish for all its children." Having included Thatcher's Sun

mentality speech in an appendix please allow me a little vituperative licence to say

that "What a wise monetarist parent would want for their children is fine so long as it

is paid for by the parent, if they don't pay they don't deserve the wisdom. The State

must wish for all its children."


I shall limit myself to the above as an analysis of the processes of the New Right

because it gives me sufficient to draw implications for Trade Unions in the education


The NUT position nationally is moving towards an advisory body(a professional

association?) concerning the issues of finance and the curriculum protecting

teachers' interests, expressing their opinions and watching the government trying to

change it for the better. They have also recognised the need to counter the media

bias, and union glossies together with PR appearances at every opportunity were

becoming the NUT norm in 1992.

The role at the grass roots has to significantly change as well. Financial decisions,

under the ERA, are made by the governors so the union rep or someone equally

knowledgeable needs to be one of the teacher reps on the governing body. The NUT

was also pressing through the TUC that trade unionists need to become parent

governors, and I know that through the local Trades Councils they can take

community posts on governors but I cannot remember the details.

I also see the welfare aspects of the NUT increasing with a greater number of

disciplinary cases because greater powers are falling to headmasters and governing

bodies. This will accentuate the role of the representative whilst increasing demands

on the full-time officers (case workers), and I can see a greater need arising for

escape valves as the pressure expands.

But there is one final area that I touched on in appendix 8A and that is teacher unity.

For many teachers the main function the union provides is legal insurance, in 1992

associations were sprouting up which provided this cover - I suspect this trend has

increased. The NUT specifically has seen the need to focus on the issue of unity. In

appendix 8E I have photocopied part of the Executive Memoranda for 1994 which is

given to conference each year - it is the annual report of the Executive to its

accounting body(conference), on a par with the Board of Directors' annual report to

its shareholders. Item 3 of Motion 48 recognises government desire to split the

unions, the third paragraph of the 1993 conference motion recognises the need for

single workplace unions and the importance of working on the governors. Overall it

was looking at a Federation of Education Unions from nursery to higher education.

Sadly this report concludes in statements 39 & 40 that at national level unity or

federation is not logistically possible, and turns it back to conference by saying it can

only be achieved through staff room contact - a sad indictment indeed(see statement

45 for the Executive's Summary of recommendations).

So the pressures from the New Right will actually increase the role of the unions not

in the blinkered-media areas of industrial action but in the welfare areas - areas

where the individual expertise of humanitarian teachers, wishing to support their

colleagues, have an opportunity of fulfilment through being union representatives -

whichever union!!

Here we have a specific example of change - the New Right, and the union response,

particularly limited on national unity. Since 1979 the Tories have changed the way of

change. The Secretary of State writes a letter, various education bodies appear such

as the NCC, SEAC and others, career teachers note the nature of the new innovation

and apply for the finance, and the structure of education has been changed. And the

teachers they have been squeezed into these changes. These are not changes that

have been implemented, they have been imposed. They are not changes that are

working they are changes that are heartlessly being carried out by professionals,

these same professionals, who are the problem with education if you read the Sun or

listen to government statements , are actually the very people who by external force

are accepting the change in a limited way. Yet at the same time there is this quality

ethic, how can that possibly happen if the motivation of teachers for doing the job is

the negative "professionalism" ie no heart? The BSI document throughout has no

heart, the government has taken the heart out of the teaching profession and yet it

wants better quality. And then they ask how do we deal with the demoralisation of


With regards to race policy implementation I noted that teachers at Brixton

Comprehensive were fed up of talking shops. Process of educational change at that

time, in the 70's, was difficult. Although the teachers wanted the change, they wanted

help in dealing with the problems of race in a racist society, there was very little

forthcoming, and the reason was finance as discussed in this section. Nothing of

professional quality came out of our work because there was never the finance to

ensure that quality(the GLC tried but there were too many problems and they tried to

solve them all without the finance). The Tories changed this, they decreased the

funding in schools whilst at the same time telling parents they can pay more and have

better schools if the schools opt out, and increased the funding for their changes. So

we now have the policy in place, we have teachers implementing the policy in a

heartless way and the students suffering because there is less money in the schools

and who now controls how the money is spent - the governing body. part-time unpaid

people are controlling the decisions of finance. Who gets the blame? The

government? Who is really at fault?

The keynote of this analysis of change is the cynical abuse of the control of the

finance to ensure that policy change is instigated without any serious desire to see

proper implementation. As a learning outcome recognition of this means of causing

change has registered very heavily with me.


References for Part 8

BSI Guidance Notes for the Application of ISO9000/EN29000/BS5750 to

Education and Training. BSI Quality Assurance, 1992. Document

Number QGN/9310/395:ISSUE 2

Fullan M "Change Forces" Falmer(1993) ISBN 1 85000 825 6

MMR "Policies for the Curriculum" Moon, Murphy and Raynor. Hodder &

Stoughton 1989. ISBN 0-340-51436-1

Senge P "The Fifth Discipline" New York Doubleday (1990)

TUC The Quality Challenge - A TUC report on the trade union response to

Quality in Public Services. Twentieth Century Press 1992 ISBN 1

85006 233 1


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