Union warns staffing crisis could become a ‘catastrophe’

A teaching union leader has issued a stark warning to the Government, claiming that urgent action is required to stop the teacher recruitment and retention crisis from turning into a “catastrophe”.

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, which was formed last year following the amalgamation of the ATL and NUT teaching unions, also advised members that a national ballot was not necessary to take action on pay and workload.

Addressing members of the NUT in April, at their final standalone conference, he claimed that the Government was “on the back foot over teacher workload”.

“Now is the time for us to press them much harder,” he said. “Damian Hinds could introduce a limit on teacher working hours. So then heads would have to talk to teachers about what really matters and teachers could start to get back professional control.”

He added: “If he wants to stop it turning into a catastrophe, then he will have to act on pay as well.

“School groups are taking action, with union backing to refuse triple marking, photographic evidence – and all with the implied backing of the head of Ofsted.

“In September, we will launch a national campaign to drive down teacher workload; we will arm all members, reps and officers with brilliant materials backed up by regional officers and organisers. We are determined that our campaign will end the overworking of the teaching profession and we will not rest until it does.”

Mr Courtney has also pledged that the new union would ensure it put “significant resources” behind its campaign on primary school testing, saying: “On baseline, our campaign with the More Than a Score coalition is growing. Baseline is unloved. It is a test without a future.”