Video: Newham teachers take part in national strike
15:52 26 March 2014
Teachers from schools across the borough joined their colleagues in a national one day strike over pay, pensions and work conditions.
Although some took part in pickets at several schools which were partially open on March 26, many headed into central London for a good natured march that took them to Westminster. All agreed that the strike was not about a single issue - they mentioned pay, pensions, performance related pay as well as workloads and long working hours.
Of the borough’s 90 schools, 45 were partially open, 33 were closed and 11 were open.
Miriam Scharf, NUT representative at Forest Gate Community School in Forest Gate, manned a picket line and took part in the march.
She said: “There are many issues; it began with pensions then went to pay but the majority of teachers are out today because their job has become impossible to do well. Teachers are under tremendous stress and we think the children are under stress too.
“We want a better education system and we want to be happy in our job.”
Boyko Djouranov, 51, said the strike was “symbolic- its a message but it is a weak message. We know the public supports us but the people at the top need ti hear it too.” He said the strike needs to be followed up with additional action.
Other teachers raised concerns about working conditions. Caroline Austin, who lives in Newham but teaches in Tower Hamlets, said: “We have not had a pay rise for two years and we want to make sure that children are taught by qualified teachers who have a good work life balance.
“I think generally, parents support us, but many are not aware of the issues like the size of classes and how long teachers work.”
Paul Palech-Edwards, who works in Plaistow, said: “The workload is unsustainable and it is driving out a lot of teachers. A lot of young people who join the profession are leaving in the first five years.”
Scott Cook, who teaches at Newham Sixth Form College in Plaistow, said the profession was being undermine. He also expressed concerns about the impact of cuts to funding for sixth formers.