Students launch peaceful protest

November 25, 2010

Thursday 25th November 2010

    By Matthew Edwards, Swindon Advertiser

    MORE than 100 students stormed out of lessons at New College yesterday as thousands of students descended on London to demonstrate against hikes to tuition fees.

    About 140 people quit lessons at 11am yesterday and protested outside the entrance of the college waving placards before marching around the site chanting against the Government.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Headteachers back SATs boycott

    January 27, 2010

    PRIMARY school headteachers in Swindon have indicated overwhelming support for a threatened boycott of Sats tests, says a local head teacher.

    The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are in favour of scrapping the Sats assessment for 11-year-olds in favour of teacher assessment.

    They argue that children’s progress would be measured much more effectively and communicated to parents and potential secondary schools without the need for stressful exams.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Are Academies just ‘a ludicrously expensive con-trick’?

    December 2, 2009

    Sponsors have failed to provide the cash pledged to academies, new information reveals, so the taxpayer is left footing the bill

    Warwick Mansell, The Guardian

    It has always seemed a struggle. The government and its Conservative predecessors have fought what has often appeared a losing battle for 20 years to persuade private sponsors to pump their cash into schools.

    But now, new figures have shown just how hard this task has been in relation to academies, Labour’s flagship school improvement policy. Some 13 of the 90 academies – or one in seven – that are supposed to have been given private sponsorship money for capital building work have yet to see a penny of it, data provided in a parliamentary written answer reveals. Read the rest of this entry »

    UWE – “boosting the bottom line”

    February 25, 2009

    This is a letter published in the Swindon Advertiser in response to news that the University of the West of England want to build a campus in the Coate area.

    OH dear, Oakfield does not have the feeling of a university campus says John Rushforth from UWE. Quite how an empty building, seen as he rushed past it in a car, could have a university feeling, is beyond me and probably most other readers.

    Perhaps the parents he refers to would quail at the prospect of sending their sons and daughters to a university situated, of all things on a council estate. Obviously a terrible site for a seat of learning. Is that your problem Mr Rushforth? Sadly his insensibilities do not run to being offended at the prospect of despoiling an area which the majority of people want to keep as it is.

    UWE boasts that it helps businesses boost their bottom line, a strange priority for a centre of education, but one entirely in keeping with their view that Coate is their ideal site. Visit the UWE website and you can see how much UWE bought into the vision of education competing in the global market. Perhaps somebody should tell Mr Rushforth and all those who share his vision that one or two events have occurred over the last year or so that have brought the neo-liberal model crashing down. It is a salutary reminder of the need to reassert human values which do not rush to despoil the environment we live in at the service of the bottom line.


    Secretary Swindon TUC

    Schools shut as teachers walk out

    April 25, 2008

    By Emma Streatfield 



    Teachers from Swindon heading to Bristol for the regional demonstration

    STRIKING Swindon teachers have refused to rule out further industrial action following their one day action yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

    NUT members ballot for strike action

    February 11, 2008

    Swindon Advertiser
    By Avantika Bhargava

    A THOUSAND teachers could walk out of the town’s schools if a proposed strike gets the go ahead.

    The National Union of Teachers (NUT) will ballot members to strike against the continued cutting of teachers’ living standards.

    And teachers in Swindon are getting the worst deal, according to union leaders.

    NUT members in all of Swindon’s primary and secondary schools will be balloted at the end of the month about a one-day strike on April 24.

    The last time teachers in the town went ahead with major strike action was 22 years ago.

    Andy Woolley, the NUT’s south west regional secretary, said: “This is the third year running that the pay rise for teachers has been below inflation and this amount is likely to be the same for the next two years.

    “Swindon is the worst hit in the south west region because of the high cost of living and so young teachers are constantly finding it difficult to get onto the property ladder.”

    Peter Smith, the NUT’s Swindon representative, feels teachers earn less than the average graduate after leaving university.

    He said: “They spend four years at university with no pay, and also have a building student debt and when they start they earn just over £20,000 – that’s about £3,000 less than your average graduate. This gap widens over the next two years and within five years of joining the profession.

    “Fifty per cent of young teachers leave because of heavy workload and pay conditions.

    “The Government had promised us that if inflation continued to rise they would review our pay, but they have gone back on their word.”

    According to figures from the NUT, junior doctors who earn a basic salary with a supplement would earn £32,087 with the amount increasing to over £39,000.

    Police officers also earn a higher wage than teachers and are paid during training and don’t need to be graduates.

    Academy Meeting

    June 16, 2006

    A brief report of a meeting in Penhill to discuss the Academy proposal.

    I attended a meeting at Penhill called to discuss the proposal for an Academy to replace Headlands school. Councillor Garry Perkins Lead member for Children’s Services was invited along to speak in favour of the proposal. The meeting was organised by Penhill Councillor Andy Harrison as a means of giving local people the opportunity to hear the arguments and express their own view. The first thing to be said is that the Council did not give the opportunity to opponents of the scheme to present their case in the public meetings which they organised. On the other hand the presence of Garry did provide the audience with an indication of how little he seems to know about some of the issues!
    There was a great deal of anger over the seeming incompetence of the Council. Many people present had not received the consultation documents.

    It would be true to say that most people present did not engage in the debate on the concept of Academies. The trades unionists present were opposed to Academies in principle and have examined what has happened around the country in those that have been set up. But unless you have an interest in education or you have children is school it is not an issue which you would necessarily have looked at. Garry Perkins did not argue with the teaching unions on this ground, he simply said this is the only way to get a new school so take it or leave it.

    Many people were perturbed to know that he did not seem to have any idea about the ‘footprint’ of the proposed new school, or the potential traffic problems. He expressed a lack of interest on the question of which organisation is putting in how much money, even though the teachers present reported that the United Learning Trust had told them that Honda was putting in the majority of the £2 million whilst Honda had told them that ULT was putting in the majority!

    There was concern expressed about how far some of the children would have to travel to the proposed site at the Pinehurst People’s Centre.

    ULT are making all manner of promises (such as sticking to the Local Education Authority’s admissions policy), but the question was raised as to what mechanisms there were to hold them to these promises. Hilary Pitts from the LEA had to admit that once the Academy had been set up there was nothing to prevent the new company (for that’s what the Academy would be, a private business) changing it mind.

    All in all Garry was given a hard time by the local people. The situation was well summed up by one member of the audience when he said we had been given the same ‘choice’ for the hospital, the University of Bath and now the Academy – this is what you are going to get or you will get nothing! This is the government’s ‘choice’ agenda, supported by the Tory Council.

    Martin Wicks