Bosses accused of ‘throwing colleagues under a bus’ by naming striking workers | Teaching

Unions and principals attack school leaders who “throw classmates under the bus” by citing striking teachers in letters to parents or employing agency workers to keep classes open on strike days.

As teachers across the country prepare to strike again this week, local union branches are reminding any employee under pressure from unsupportive bosses or trusted executives that they don’t need to declare their strike in advance. The National Union of Education (NEU) condemned “name and shame” those who act as a “terrible” attempt to pressure teachers not to take a stand on pay.

Vic Goddard, co-director of the Passmores academy in Essex, said: “It is mind-boggling to me why some leaders would do this. Why would you throw classmates under a bus, knowing that if you nominate teachers they will be dragged through social media by some parents?”

Goddard himself voted for industrial action and emphasized that he had not received a single complaint from parents about the first day of the strike earlier this month. He said: “I cannot stand by and watch education funding cut, children made more vulnerable and taught by staff without the right qualifications due to a shortage of teachers. It’s already enough.”

NEU says the vast majority of school leaders have supported striking staff, with some principals giving up a day of their own pay and sharing it with staff who missed pay. Others appeared in pickets with coffee and cookies.

But Mary Bousted, secretary general of the NEU, said: “There are leaders who have been swayed by very strong directives from the Department of Education that they must keep schools open at all costs by employing agency staff.”

Some teachers also complained on social media that their bosses tried to pressure them to set jobs online for strike days.

A teacher at a primary school in the Midlands, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described feeling “very disappointed” when she and two other striking teachers were named by the principal in a letter to parents about which classes would be closed on the first day. of strike.

“I definitely felt exposed,” she said. “I understand that the senior leadership team felt the need to tell parents, so no complaints, but the strike is about to cause disruption.” The school asked her to declare by Friday if she would go on strike this week.

Bousted said such pressure, which is being reported in a minority of schools across the country, was “intimidation and bullying”, adding: “Posting the names of striking teachers is hateful. It’s terrible behavior. That teacher shouldn’t say anything to her head.”

The head of a primary academy in northern England, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “I saw school leaders actively naming and blaming their staff in letters. They are throwing them to the lions. It’s deeply unpleasant.

He said he also knows bosses who insist on covering all classes on strike days, going “against the whole spirit of the strike”. He warned that this could backfire, with teachers reluctant to take a job or stay at schools that do not support the strikers. He added: “Remember, these teachers are giving up a payday in a cost of living crisis, when they are already struggling because they feel so passionately that things must change.”

Dan Beeston, Grade 5 teacher at Robin Hood Primary School in Nottingham, said it meant a lot to find an envelope on his desk before the strike with head money to buy a cafe or a McDonald’s for the picket.

He said he felt guilty about closing classes, but added: “At the end of the day, I am striking for the children. I see them going without resources and support at school. The cuts impacted our classrooms and I had to take a stand.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union, said: “We advise members that, as difficult as things may seem right now, you need to ensure that the relationship with your staff is a good one for the long term. Most followed that.”

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