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Leicester teachers strike to defend education and assistants' jobs
Heather Rawling, retired NUT member
In a marvelous show of solidarity, teachers at an Leicester inner city school have taken strike action to defend children's education and the jobs of eight teaching assistants.
A united picket line demonstrated the determination of teachers to win their dispute with the head and governors at Uplands Junior School.
Teaching assistants stood in solidarity with NUT members on the picket line. They would have been on strike but are waiting for the GMB and Unison to organise all the legal formalities.
The strike by NUT members successfully closed the school for the day.
A teacher who has also been a teaching assistant told me that the head was restructuring the school to the detriment of the quality of education for the children. It would also lead to a greater workload for teachers.
The school is multi-cultural, in Highfields, an inner city area of Leicester. New children arrive regularly from different countries and backgrounds.
Teaching assistants are invaluable in integrating new children and helping them with any language difficulties as well as everything else they need to do in school.
The head has spoken to parents about the dispute but allowed very little time for questions. School staff were not allowed to attend the meeting but friends and family of the head and chair of governors were present.
Parents have reported that governors have been canvassing in the community for support for the head and governors, yet support for the picket line from parents was brilliant. Leaflets were given out in four different languages.
However it is important that parents continue to hear the reasons for striking. A meeting of parents would be a good way to forge strong links and communicate directly with parents.