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Press Release Department for Education

Press Releases

Michael Gove writes to schools on docking pay of teachers

The NUT and NASUWT have been encouraging teachers to undertake industrial action since 3 October 2012. They have asked teachers to follow 25 instructions – many of which cause major problems for their school and damage headteachers’ efforts to raise standards. These include: refusing to be observed teaching by school leaders for more than three hours per year;

- refusing to provide more than one written report to parents per year;
- refusing to hand in lesson plans to senior management;
- refusing to undertake cover for other teachers.

Secretary of State’s letter in full:


I am writing to you to seek your support in tackling a threat to the
quality of pupils’ education which has emerged recently. I am referring to
the highly irresponsible industrial action started by the NUT and NASUWT on
3 October. 

The NUT and NASUWT have issued a series of 25 instructions setting out
activities which their members should refuse to undertake. Only a tiny
proportion of the profession voted in favour of this industrial action –
with a turnout of only 27% in the case of the NUT. An even smaller
proportion of teachers are choosing to follow these instructions. The vast
majority of schools are currently unaffected. A small number, however, are
starting to see a severe impact and where this is the case, I believe a
robust response is needed.

I respect the right of teachers to take industrial action, but this action
short of a strike lacks a clear purpose or even a set of coherent aims. It
sets out only to cause unnecessary disruption in schools, while at the same
time threatening to damage children’s education. 

The NUT and NASUWT have instructed their members to refuse to undertake
cover for other teachers, creating additional work for their colleagues.
The unions want their members to refuse to hand in lesson plans to senior
management, making it more difficult for them to manage their schools.
Perhaps most unreasonably, the instructions go as far as refusing to
provide more than one written report each year to parents.

Those are only three of twenty five instructions, which would place
unnecessary pressure on headteachers, governing bodies and Academy Trusts.
I am also concerned about the increased burden on the many hard-working
teachers across the country who are focusing entirely on providing the best
education possible for all of their pupils.

I am sure that you will agree that this is not a constructive or effective
way for organisations representing professionals to work. I believe it is
damaging the reputation of the profession with the public, at a time when
we have the best ever cohort who are working harder than ever.

Feedback from parents suggests they find it difficult to understand why the
education of their children needs to suffer. Feedback from teachers
suggests they find it frustrating that they need to pick up the work that
other teachers should be doing. 

Furthermore, international evidence shows that industrial action of this
kind is associated with significant damage to pupil outcomes, particularly
in the long term. The threat to pupil outcomes in affected schools is
therefore a real one. I believe we should tackle this action swiftly and
firmly before it causes any more damage in schools. 

In response to requests from headteachers, I have published advice for
schools on the Department for Education website about appropriate
sanctions, which I have also attached to this letter. The legal position is
clear: teachers who are following this industrial action are very likely to
be in breach of their contracts. Pay deductions represent a lawful
response, and the advice sets out how deductions can be made in a
proportionate and reasonable way.

I would be very grateful if you could support your school(s) in taking a
robust response, including through pay deductions where appropriate. I am
convinced that by working together in a coordinated way we can protect the
pupils, parents, teachers and headteachers who would otherwise suffer
because of this irresponsible industrial action. 

Yours


Michael Gove

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