We have received lots of messages of support from fellow teachers and the wider community since we took our stand on workload and excessive scrutiny.
We believe this is because we speak for thousands of teachers who are feeling under-valued, overworked and stressed out.
We encourage NUT members in schools to meet and discuss what they can do to take action on these issues. If you would like John Roan NUT members to speak at a meeting of your school or organisation then contact us.
Government policy is creating a crisis in education. We have to speak out for teachers, parents and students so that our schools can provide the quality of education we all want.
A heartfelt thanks
A massive thank from all the members of the John Roan NUT to all of you for your unstinting support over the past few weeks. We shall not give up our fight for reasonable working conditions that will allow us to give our pupils the first class education that they deserve. #unityisourstrength
messages of support from NUT and trade unions
Dear Colleagues, Brothers and Sisters,
Sending you solidarity and best wishes in your struggle.
The issues you are facing are the same ones we face in Brooklyn, N.Y.C. We support, admire and will seek to emulate your militant struggle.
Chapter Leader, United Federation of Teachers,
Every respect for you for striking and making a stand. I wish we had had the confidence to do the same.
We are sending solidarity greetings to your members for the strike action at your school on Tuesday 10th Nov. We understand how much it takes for teachers to take strike action and know that you have tried hard to resolve
the strike through discussion and negotiation. Teacher workload is a huge problem and has led to huge recruitment and retention problems. We wish you
well with your strike action and hope that the dispute is resolved and the management listen to teacher concerns. The pupils can only achieve if the teachers feel valued. A resolution is in the interests of the whole school community. You are an inspiration to all NUT members in taking a stand for education.
Lambeth NUT team
Solidarity to all the staff and NUT members standing up for their rights and the rights of the children they teach. You are an example to rest of the country who are too scared to make a stand. Teachers would rather leave than put up a fight. Let's hope that your determination will spur many other teachers into action and to fight for their jobs, their sanity and a proper work life balance. You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work!
It is vital for the good of our students and school we have good working conditions and they are worth fighting for. Good Luck
Lewes and Eastbourne NUT.
The Green Party Trade Union Group sends its support to NUT strikers at John Roan school (Greenwich). The aims of the John Roan strikers, to restore a reasonable work-life balance and to treat their pupils as more than exam fodder, are totally in line with Green Party policy. This strike for these principled aims, is a positive development. We wish it every success.
Dear John Roan NUT
Solidarity from us in the South East London Peoples Assembly Against Austerity, on having to take action against excessive workload and monitoring.
Wishing you and your school all the best for today in your industrial action. You are taking a great lead and hopefully others will follow. Well done to everyone at your school
NUT at Vaughan Primary School West Harrow
Solidarity and best of luck.
NUT member at Eltham Hill School
Dear John Roan NUT members,
I wish you all the very best for your strike action on Tuesday. Stand tall, strong and proud on your picket line. I wish you a speedy victory so that you can win a proper work/life balance and the respect that all teachers fully deserve.In solidarity,
Please accept this message of support and good wishes for your action sent on behalf of NUT representatives and members from the SPTA academy chain.
It's the courage and resilience of groups like yours that inspire the rest of us.
Solidarity from all at Trafford NUT.
Sian Moor - Divisional Secretary, Trafford NUT
Congratulations to John Roan NUT school group for taking this stand against a bullying management. We at Sandwell College UCU take inspiration from your show of collective strength. UCU Further Education Branches will also be on strike on 10 November on pay. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help support your fight.
Dave Muritu, Sandwell College UCU Branch Secretary and NEC.
Solidarity from Turkey! I am there in spirit...Well done and best of luck to the democratically elected negotiating committee.
Jahn Peters (Alumni of the TJR and past NUT rep)
Excellent work from officers and the Reps. Solidarity to you all. Members decide who represents them not bosses.
Liam Conway - NUT NEC Officer
Good luck and well done to all members at John Roan taking this stand against tyranny in our schools. Thank you all.
Ashley Courtney, NUT Rep
City of Leicester NUT sends all members at John Roan our wishes of support and solidarity and of course every success in your action.
Jenny Day, Leciester NUT
I read about your dispute on Facebook. Firstly, the very best of luck for your strike action.
I have many friends and family members who are teachers and suffering unmanageable workloads and hostile management practices. You are not alone! It is clear that the current Government is intent on fragmenting and then privatising the service.
I am a retired NUT member living locally. Do let me know if there is any way I can support you - leafletting? Contacting local Labour and Green parties? supporting your picket line? etc. Do you have a leaflet or statement outlining your grievances?
Kirstie (and 60 'odd' LOL members),
Well done for standing up for your rights.
Hopefully strike action will make the Headteacher see sense!
Keep up the fight!
Simon Murch - Joint Division Secretary
To our NUT colleagues at John Roan school,
We are sending you our support and solidarity for your strike on November 10th against workload, punitive observations and non-recognition of your union rep Kirstie. You are absolutely right to take a stand against nasty conditions that demoralise staff and deter people from staying in the profession. And especially against the refusal to recognise your elected union reps. All too often we are now seeing this kind of attack on Trade Unions as the government attempts to bring in the draconian anti Trade Union Bill.
We are proud to be taking striking action on the same day as you, against our employers 0% "pay offer". Many of our members, like you, will also be striking because they are sick of the ongoing assault on our sector which is seeing year on year cuts, course closures, student places lost, workers bullied and demoralised and jobs going.
The best way to defend the right to strike is to strike! We hope to join forces with you on the day if possible. Let us know if we can support in any other way.
Mandy Brown, UCU Branch Secretary, Lambeth College
Members at Havering College Branch UCU would like to offer you their full support in your struggle.
All the best and good luck.
In solidarity, Stephen Pick
Havering College of Further and Higher Education Branch (UCU)
Dear John Roan NUT,
Solidarity to all you brave people making a stand!
We need trust in and ownership of our profession, manageable workloads and conducive environments to work in. We are also on strike on the same day (further education colleges) in a national pay dispute. We are also facing extensive cuts to our sector. At Tower Hamlets colleges, we are boycotting observations as they are linked to possible compulsory redundancies. We do not believe our observation policy is constructive or supportive.
Hannah Wray, Tower Hamlets Colleges, UCU
To the NUT members at John Roan School,
On behalf of the NUT members in Tameside schools, I send a message of support to you. I hope that you achieve a satisfactory outcome to your grievances.
Lesley Cook, Tameside NUT
Dear John Roan NUT,
I am a newly qualified teacher and I just wanted to offer my support. As a career-changer and NQT I've been worried how I would cope in a job that receives such negative press relating to stress levels and workload. The stats tell me that 2/5 NQTs don't make it through the first five years of teaching. A recent YouGov poll suggested that 53% of teachers (not just NQTs!) are thinking of quitting in the next couple of year and the top reasons given were 'volume of workload' (61%) and 'seeking a better work/life balance (57%). We work longer hours than teachers in any other country. You only have to take a look at the 'most read' articles on the TES website (see attached) to get an idea of the state that our profession is currently in!
After my first half term, I can see why so many teachers are walking out the door. We are constantly losing enthusiastic, confident teachers due to the stress of the job, the relentless paperwork and the excessive administrative burdens associated with it. It's demoralising! Something has to change. Well done for taking a stand and standing up for what you believe in.
I would like to say thank you for standing up for teachers everywhere, for speaking up on our behalf and for appealing to Nicky Morgan and the Government to turn their focus onto what really matters, so that we can all devote more time and energy to the actual teaching and learning. After reading the below email, I have been inspired to join the NUT. Thank you and good luck.
Hi Paulina and Kirstie,
We sympathise with your cause and know too well the pressures faced by teachers you have highlighted. Wishing you best of luck from Plumstead Manor. Please let us know if we can help in anyway, and I hopefully will be able to get a group together to distribute your leaflets too. So keep us posted. I have circulated the news to our members.
All the best, Orkun Ari, Plumstead Manor, NUT rep
I have just learned of your strike action and I think you are absolutely right. Well done on your members for having the courage to do this.
Helene Muller, teacher of Science, Plumstead Manor School
A message from teachers at Middle Street School Brighton and Downs Park Special School Brighton. We are sending support to you in your strike. Every small battle will add to a collective shout. We all just want to get on with effective teaching after all! I was a technician at your school a long time ago!
Love and peas from Mick Brazil
Dear John Roan NUT,
I've received an email from Martin about your impending strike. I want to tell you that I am thinking of you all and support you whole heartdly.
I was in a similar situation when I taught in a school in east London. 'workload,' was an understatement. For me it really took away from the fun of teaching and guess what? being able to actually stop and spend time talking with the children, instead of always rushing to do one thing or another. I wish you all the best on the day and if I wasn't on crutches I would be there with you all too.
Lewisham NUT Association
Dear Kirstie, Paulina and all NUT members at The Joan Roan School,
I'd like to pass on a message of solidarity from Driffield School, East Yorkshire, to everyone taking part in the action on the 10th of November.
Principled action like yours shows this government, and the managerial apologists who implement their destructive policies, that we will not allow our profession to be beaten and beaten until it breaks.
I have included a piece on your action in the latest Driffield NUT Newsletter, and I believe our div sec has also sent a message of solidarity. We will be thinking about you on the 10th.
Yours in solidarity,
Damian Walenta (NUT rep on behalf of Driffield School NUT)
Hello to John Roan NUT,
Sending you solidarity and support from Halesowen UCU and West Mids UCU REC for your strike action next Tuesday. It is unacceptable for a head to try to pick on behalf of members who will represent them. Workload is killing education and you are right to take action to fight what this is doing to our lives.
Next week FE UCU members will be joining you as we are out nationally in our fight for fair pay in the face of another pay freeze, so we will be taking action together. Well done for your courage and unity in the face of this bullying.
West Mids chair and Halesowen College branch secretary, UCU
You are an amazing example of people doing what is right, morally right and that care and compassion for the community and students will endure forever i am completely with you in spirit.
Deanna Pompei (Alumni TJR)
I'll be with you on the picket line in spirit! Stay strong and united! Fight the good fight.
Sarah Healy, Hackney NUT
Dear John Roan NUT,
Good luck to them members and well done for taking this significant stand for union rights and decent working conditions. Solidarity!
Amanda Bentham, East London Teachers Association (ELTA)
messages of support from parents and Local Community
My son is in year 8 at JR and I am a teacher. This exact same 'thing' happened at my school. New head, new management and suddenly it was all about the data, and if it wasn't about the data it was all about the observations; informal, formal, 'not really an observation' observation.
The workload became ridiculous, all departments had to write new schemes of work, marking had to be uniformly completed every fortnight and checked by HODs. Teachers, who the leadership team didn't like/rate/were too expensive/ nut members suddenly started getting lots of observations and awarded grade 3's. Satisfactory by Ofsted standards; but by the school's, 3 of those in a row and you were pushed out.
Teachers were stressed out, fearful for their livelihoods and paranoid.
I had to peer assess a colleague who had taught maths for 20 years (myself 5 years) and give him feedback on how to improve his practice, I taught drama. He was pushed out. His form class wrote a letter to the Head begging for him to stay. He had been a father figure to so many boys who had real issues at home, school was their sanctuary and this teacher was much more than a maths teacher. These things don't count because they don't fit on a data sheet.
That is the crux of it really. My school became a new Academy with staff from their other Academy schools replacing each teacher they managed to pick off. I left on maternity leave and never went back. I was there 4 years and only 2 original staff members remain.
We didn't have enough active union members to strike; the ones we did have were too scared and then our union rep was basically hounded out.
I'm so sorry you are in the same situation and I stand with you in support and solidarity.
I really hope there will be a resolution soon but urge all members to stay strong and united!
TEACHER AND JOHN ROAN PARENT
I wanted to say that I was at the Parents Meeting at Greenwich Forum and felt so strongly for the teachers but was too shy to speak out. My family and I are 100% behind you and we agree with everything that was said. The previous Headmaster said to us on an open day meeting that the students happiness is the most important thing about John Roan. Happy students and contented students feel the need to learn and create a happy environment.
Since the new Headmistress has started my daughter is not happy. Teachers are becoming more impatient with the students, shouting and snapping at them for very minor things. This is due to stress and over work load and criticism obviously coming from above. This is not an environment I want my daughter to be in. It’s a bad role model. You should treat people they way YOU want to be treated and shouting and being slightly aggressive towards students due to enormous stress levels is not a way forward, and it will only get worse if this is allowed to continue.
We attended another meeting on Wednesday morning at the school with the Head who was showing the parents some new software that she wants to install so the parents can see their child’s progress online 24 hours a day. I understand from the meeting that this software is not cheap. This is not the schools ethos. It’s not a computer school it’s a science school. My daughter was at a computer mad school before she came to John Roan and we opted to remove her from the school as it was impersonal and too computer orientated. The ethos has followed us to John Roan, which is a massive problem for us as a family.
We understand fully the teachers concerns and feel that you must all be extremely unhappy in order to result in strike action.
If the teachers are unhappy the pupils are unhappy and so the parents are unhappy. It’s a snow ball effect. You all spoke well with emotion and very real concerns. I can only apologise if some parents seemed blind and deaf to your concerns. They do not work under the new Head so how could they possibly know what devastating affects it is having on your teaching skills and social skills. Stress is a terrible thing. It brings out the worst in all of us. I only hope this can be resolved quickly and the students’ education and confidence is not damaged too much.
These are very difficult and worrying times for all of us...............
Lesley Jane WB.
Just sending a message of support as there are thousands of schools and teachers in the same position. As a parent I am angry and sickened by the constant monitoring and scrutiny of teachers which is at the expense of creative and spontaneous teaching methods which enable teachers and children to build a fantastic learning journey together. Every day I hear from my 6 year old that he is writing, writing, writing. He wants to cook, talk, draw and express his learning in many different ways that the constant target hitting does not allow time for.
Teachers should be trusted to teach, valued and left to get on with what they know best for their own unique set of pupils. This system is all wrong and everybody is losing out. As a parent I would be very prepared to stand alongside teachers in the picket line. I wish our school had the strength and conviction to stand up against this ridiculous and damaging system.
Hastings, East Sussex
RESPONSE TO THE SOUTH LONDON PRESS
It's a great pity your reporter Mandy Little didn't come to the large meeting organised by John Roan teachers and parents before writing
Striking teachers urged to attend talks to agree turnaround plans for John Roan School
If she had she would have heard teachers with 15 to 25 years experience explaining what is happening at the school in terms of changes in management policies and why it is making their role as educators impossible. Pupils also spoke about how brilliant the teachers are, but how extremely stressed and over worked they have become since the new Head arrived. One young pupil was quoted as saying, "This used to be a happy school didn't it, sir? It's an unhappy school now."
Some parents, believe the Head's claim that the way to help the school improve is increased monitoring and more management observations in the class room. Tragically these proposals are leading to the teachers time being taken away from their professional role of educating our children.
Like most parents at John Roan School I have great respect and appreciation for what the teachers have done for my children. Now they are standing up to say the management's new policies are unworkable, unsustainable and not in our children's interest. I wholeheartedly support them. I look forward to reading a report about this matter where both sides, management and staff, are asked to present their case,
My son left John Roan at the end of last year to go to sixth form at Bexley Grammar. I'm appalled by the direction the new Head Teacher is taking. While exams are important, school should be primarily about education. If results dipped this summer, the solution is in recruiting really excellent teachers and creating conditions in which they want to stay. It's a very sad state of affairs and unfortunately a reflection of the dog-eat-dog climate in our country under the present government.
LETTER TO THE MERCURY, SOUTH LONDON PRESS AND THE WESTCOMBE NEWS 11TH NOVEMBER
Dear Sir / Madam,
I don’t know if readers were aware that the teachers at John Roan School reluctantly took strike action on
Tuesday 10th November 2015. Can I put on record that as someone who has worked in the education sector and as a member of the Blackheath Westcombe Ward Labour Party branch, I fully support the teachers’ action. The strike was over the ever increasing workload that is being foisted on teachers, which is making them increasingly like administrators which in turn gives them less time to dedicate to teaching, which can only have a negative impact on the education of this island’s children, thus also impacting negatively on its future. Added to this is the increasingly excessive monitoring of teaching staff and greater scrutiny of teachers’ performance, which the John Roan branch of the National Union of Teachers has described as “...eroding trust and the collegiality of the school.”
Whilst the teachers recognise that most of this is the responsibility of the Conservative Government, the situation at John Roan has not been helped by the intransigence of the Head Teacher, Nadine Powrie, who
has refused to discuss the grievances of teaching staff if they exercise their right to have an elected National Union of Teachers representative present at any discussions.
Recent figures have shown that around 50,000 teachers left the profession in the last year. One of my relatives was one of those who walked away, citing that she felt under less pressure during her military service in the R.A.F. than she felt in teaching now, and that she was no longer able to give children the education they deserved as the situation currently stands.
There are also record numbers of teaching staff off sick now due to stress-related illnesses. It was heartening to see some members of the local community visiting the picket line with hot drinks and food and I feel there should be greater support shown for the teachers in our local school.
Without teachers educating future generations, the outlook can only be bleak.
Dear Staff at John Roan,
My wife and I are the parents of a son who is in year 8 at the John Roan school. We were pleased to hear your side of the dispute after receiving the message from governors. We would like you to know you have our full support in the strike action you are taking. We are in agreement with your view that an in increase in paperwork and scrutiny of your teaching will not have a positive effect on the life of the John Roan school. There are already adequate measures in place to see there is good teaching - most importantly from a student like Thomas who speaks highly of his teachers.
There are broader issues about children being happy, safe and stimulated. This requires as much student and teacher contact as possible, not measures that exhaust teachers and take them away from pupils. For example, we are sad that Thomas can no longer attend art club as the teacher involved has to attend a meeting on that evening. Art is one of Thomas' strongest subjects and one he would like to pursue in some form when he is older.
We understand there are sometimes issues of disruptive behaviour which is known to be a key factor in children's attainment. However, these are best addressed by creative responses from management staff, especially in empowering staff in the classroom rather than disempowering them.
Yes, it is important that examination results improve. No one would disagree with that. However, this is too narrow a focus. The purpose of a school is to provide a rounded education and nurture a life-long passion for learning. The measure being applied here is obtaining qualifications. It would be unfair to suggest this is the headteacher and governor's only concern, but it is troubling that the students' happiness and broader development are not mentioned at all.
It is our belief that the John Roan is a very good school with excellent staff. We would like to see staff supported and given the means to do their work. We want them to be trusted and given the time and space to use their skills.
Thank you for all that you have done for our son.
Simon and Julie Watson
Dear Patrick, school governors and other parents,
We were very disappointed that in the letter from the Chair of Governors there was no acknowledgement of the great work the current staff team that have done for all the pupils (our children) over the last few years at the John Roan.
As parents we have chosen John Roan for many reasons including, but certainly not solely, where the school stands in league tables.
As Des Malone and others have pointed out the exam results this summer reflect a trend across similar schools across the borough and further afield. The results can be better explained by factors such as having to operate under constantly changing Government guidelines rather than the abilities and commitment of the current staff team.
The school's most valuable resource is the staff team and management should be enabling them to most effectively deliver comprehensive education for our children. We know the problems caused for our children's education when staff are off sick with stress or leave the school. The staff team, their experience, commitment and hard work which are so often evident at times like parents evenings and of course through the year on year progress our children make.
We do not believe that the government has our children's best interests at heart and we have always believed part of the success of John Roan to meet our children's needs has been through professional staff knowing best and not singing to the latest tune of the Minster of Education.
We have relied on the current staff team to provide quality education for our children. Clearly they believe that the implications of the proposed changes will have a negative effect on our children's education and are prepared to make the sacrifice that strike action leads to for the sake of their professional integrity and our children. We believe strongly they should be supported, so the John Roan can continue to be the school we chose to entrust our children's education to,
We hope you will kindly forward this letter to other governors.
Colin Fancy and Kirsti Tebbutt
messages of support from students
Within a school you want a safe community, within a safe community you want a healthy learning environment, within a healthy learning environment, you want happy people. Happy people want to learn, and want to teach, but children can’t learn if teachers are stressed, and teachers can’t teach if they are stressed. Teachers are stressed because they are being pushed, and why are they being pushed, because are head teacher doesn’t want us to be happy but wants her to be happy. She doesn’t care about us as a community but cares about our grades, are grades are for us to feel proud, not for her to advertise. Our school is a place to learn not to shop and sell. Not everyone is going to get the best grades, if you only want the people who are good at English and maths where does that leave some of my friends?
Student from Year 8
Dear Mr Cooper,
It is saddening to see the Governors taking a Daily Mail approach to the strike. Yes, it is understandable to be worried about results, however this sends out a remarkable message. It says to parents that teachers who leave at 7pm doing excessive amounts of paperwork, and only getting paid up to 3:15pm, are lazy.
It is saying to parents that teachers who would rather focus on teaching and making sure students learn, are detrimental to students' progress.
It is widely known that teachers are over-worked and affected by paperwork and the pressure of constant inspections, so why demonise them when they argue that this is exactly the case of new approaches?
Most importantly, this letter sends out a message of no confidence in the Year 11s, which will be incredibly harmful to their attitudes towards exams and may even encourage a self-fulfilling prophecy - because if you've lost hope and are willing to say so, why should they try?
The Head Teacher has a well-deserved, stunning record...at the cost of 38 teaching staff at her old school. It will be a real shame if some of the school's best teachers leave at the cost of government statistics vs. actual learning.
So Mr Cooper, I can only hope that parents see what I and every other student sees: you are not in that classroom with us. You do not see the stress we see. Just listen.
Y13 Student, The John Roan Sixth Form