National politics

Who are the biggest kids?

Teachers are due to start “industrial action short of a strike” on 26th September in support of their dispute with the Government over pay, jobs, pensions and workloads. Apparently the unions don’t want to affect pupils and the idea is that the action is “pupil, parent and public-friendly”.

I spent five minutes this morning reading this document produced jointly by the NUT and NASUWT. It gives 18 pages of detailed instructions of what teachers should (not) do (I thought teachers resented reading lots of long guidance documents). The document gives you an insight into to quite how militant and out of touch the teaching unions are.

Some of the instructions given to teachers by their unions as a part of this “industrial action short of a strike” are:

  • Members should not attend any meetings outside school session times which are not within directed time and where there is no published directed time calendar for the academic year which has been agreed with the NUT
  • Members should produce only one written report annually to parents.
  • Members should not carry out classroom observation in any school which refuses to accept that there will be a limit of a total of three observations for all purposes within a total time of up to three hours per year.
  • Members should send and respond to work-related emails only during directed time.
  • Members should refuse to cover for absence.
  • Members should refuse to undertake supervision of pupils during the lunch break.
  • Members should not organise or co-operate with any arrangements for observation which involve pupils commenting on the work of teachers or being involved in decision making about teachers’ roles, responsibilities, pay and promotion.
  • Members should refuse to invigilate any public examination, including GCSEs and SATs.
  • Members should refuse to undertake administrative and clerical tasks … such as collecting money from pupils and parents, investigating a pupil’s absence, bulk photocopying and preparing, setting up and taking down classroom displays.

Can you imagine any area of private commerce where this kind of behaviour would be tolerated from adult employees let alone so-called professionals?

Teachers really let themselves down with this nonsense. 73% of NUT members didn’t even vote on this industrial action. The militants have taken over and they make teachers look foolish, difficult and childish frankly.

9 replies on “Who are the biggest kids?”

I think some of these are fair – for instance, teachers should be able to take a lunch break rather than having to supervise pupils. It’s a very intensive job and they need time to recharge. Isn’t everyone working over six hours in the UK legally entitled to a lunch break?

If teachers start having to invigilate exams and do photocopying it not only gives them less time to concentrate on marking and preparing lessons, it takes away paid work from support workers. This country needs more jobs, not less.



None of these are fair.

No-one is going to ask teachers to go without a lunch break – that doesn’t mean that they can’t help supervise lunch when required and have their own lunch before or after. The school where I am a governor benefitted hugely for many, many years from having the deputy head supervise lunch. It allowed her to keep an eye on pastoral issues, underpin the whole school’s ethos and teach children good manners very effectively.

The idea that a “professional” is going to fold their arms and say no rather than muck in to get the job done is just childish. This attitude is unacceptable in the commercial world. It is unacceptable in the military. It is unacceptable in any organisation that works.


Teachers are just normal people. You have to ask why so many thousands of them have become ‘militant’.

Have you ever worked as a teacher Phil?



Yes, thousands are militant and ten of thousands more are led around by that small group. It is a big shame.

I would make no claim to having more than average insight into schools and teaching but I was in school to 18, I am a school parent and I have been a school governor for 6/7 years now. I will probably spend half my life participating in school life in some capacity. You cannot run a service that touches everyone (by law) and then tell laymen that they have no right to comment so don’t tell me to shut up.

You might answer a question for me. Have you read the teachers’ unions’ document? It is pretty outrageous. I would love to hear a teacher tell me they are proud of this document.


Lessons run up to lunch and after lunch, so how would ordinary teachers manage to both supervise lunch and take a lunch break? Presumably the deputy head you mention was not teaching lessons full time.

Teachers are doing a difficult job for relatively low pay – it probably works out as less per hour than you earn as a Councillor.


These are not ‘militant’ requests from unions at all. As a teacher of 8 years I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the job of teaching. These instructions have been put in place to allow teachers to teach effectively. Why is it acceptable for teachers to attend unlimited weekly meetings? I attend evening staff meetings on a weekly basis sometimes lasting close to 3 hours – no agenda, no real purpose.
Why do teachers need to bulk photocopy? Why would you have a professional walking around a room invigilating an exam when support staff are more than capable of doing it?
Surely as a parent you would want the teacher of your child spending their time preparing engaging, challenging lessons or maybe taking the 90 books that need to be quality marked home every evening so that children know how to improve their work?

I’ve worked in private commerce and there are clear job descriptions in place, someone to do the photocopying, another to type letters etc etc. Why are you expecting teachers to do everything without any guidelines put in place?

It would be great to see the private sector open to such critiscm. I would love to see outside inspectors come into your place of work, sit by your desk for 20 minutes and tell you how crap you are at your job. Because believe me whilst you may not be in the private sector if they had sat by you whilst you were writing this blog I am sure they would have put you in ‘special measures’



Sorry to hear about your long meetings. I don’t like them either, especially if they are ineffective. It is one thing to complain quite reasonably about poorly run meetings that you have to endure. It is another to refuse to do what it takes to get your job done. Sure teachers should focus on teaching but if they refuse to do anything “menial” at all it is most likely that at some point they will get in the way of the outcomes we all want. There is no universe where an all encompassing teacher support service can be provided on anything like a cost-effective basis. In all walks of life you have to sometimes bank the cheques, clear up a mess or do whatever else it takes. Folding your arms and saying not my job is not on.

In the private sector accountability is assured by the fact that no-one will pay you for your goods or services unless you are at least basically capable and you are likely to go out of business if you aren’t very good in the long term. I always get anxious when I hear teachers resenting accountability. Teachers have a huge responsibility. They need to be good always or some child will have a bad experience. Teachers who don’t like accountability should move on.

Do you really think that these instructions should be the norm in teaching?


Who said anything about resenting accountability? My accountability lies with the children that I teach and making sure they achieve. For the 6 hours I have children in my class I am working hard to ensure they receive the best education possible and rightly or wrongly we are scrutinised intensely to ensure this happens.
Now I’m not saying that all private companies work like this but I know that there are some hugely ineffective employees who waste company time and they don’t necessarily get called out for it. In my experience of working in large corporate companies if a member of staff has a holiday or is sick generally the work is left for their return. That’s not exactly mucking in to get the job done.
These instructions have not been devised by the unions they are part of teacher’s working conditions which is a statutory document. These were put in place so that teachers were able to have a satisfactory work life balance.
In all my time in teaching I have never had a teaching colleague refuse to photocopy work or to put up a display however I get the impression the unions want to highlight the fact that most teachers do go above and beyond their expected duties – and I am referring more to after school clubs, extra classes, residential trips . This surely is a response to the governments recent attacks on education.
In my opinion the biggest issue in education at the moment is ineffective leadership and headteachers who use comments made in the media by the likes of Gove to threaten their staff. I cannot tell you how many times my headteacher has used the line “I can get rid of teachers a lot easier now” thus securing some timid NQT to commit to 2 extra booster classes a week.
I honestly don’t think teacher’s would object to undertaking ‘menial’ tasks once in a while but there is a much bigger picture that needs to be acknowledged here.



You do have my sympathy. It does sound like you work in a badly led school. I feel that school leadership is 9/10ths of what we are missing in our schools.

The teaching profession as a whole though will damage itself by taking this stance.


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