Teachers boast on video how strike threats kept schools closed fuelling fears unions plotting to stop March 8 return

TEACHERS have boasted on video how strike threats kept schools closed fuelling fears unions are plotting to stop them reopening on March 8.

The film, entitled Comrades, shows three officials from Britain's largest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU).

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It reveals how strike threats delayed an academy's reopening in London last year.

School staff were also prevented from giving remote lessons from their classrooms last month by the threat of industrial action, it's claimed.

Daily Covid testing of students and teachers was also torpedoed by strike threats in the West Midlands, a union representative claimed.

Boris Johnson has vowed to reopen schools on March 8 in the first stage of lockdown easing.


Classrooms have been closed to most pupils since January 4, with a government roadmap on exiting lockdown due to be published on the week of February 22.

But Chris McGovern, an ex-headteacher and chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, admitted he's "hugely concerned" unions will scupper the return to classrooms.

He told The Mail on Sunday: "‘The union bosses are holding children to ransom.

"We are in the middle of a major power struggle about who runs education and the children are in the middle of it."

The 49-minute film for Strikemapuk, posted online last month, was recorded by Henry Fowler, the NEU’s national campaign manager.

We are in the middle of a major power struggle about who runs education and the children are in the middle of it

English teacher Venda Premkumar, joint secretary of the NEUin Redbridge, East London, claimed that last June activists managed to "push back" the reopening of "about 80 per cent" of schools.

Staff at one academy that was due to reopen "initiated strike action but never had to carry the threat out because they won in the end", she said.

Teaches in the borough also threatened strike action at the start of last month's lockdown over being asked to give remote lessons from classrooms.

Ms Premkumar said: "Even though we didn’t have to carry the threat out, of the members who responded to the survey 92 per cent said yes to strike action."

Chris Denson, a physics teacher and NEU joint secretary in Coventry, said nursery and special school staff threatened to ballot for strike action after Coventry Council said they should go to work during the third national lockdown.

He said: "We told the authority we were intending to ballot our members for strike action and the local authority pulled back because they realised the members were confident".

He also claimed that plans to give dailylateral flow Covid tests at schools were "pulled within the day" after teachers threatened to walk out.

A Coventry Council spokesman said: "We absolutely refute that any individual groups have control of schools in Coventry."

An NEU spokesman said the union had "never tried to stop schools from re-opening".

The spokesman added: "But we have supported members in upholding Government recommendations on safety in schools."

"We did not advise that nursery and special school staff didn’t have to go to school."

The Prime Minister's determination to get kids back in to classrooms comes despite a mutiny by Sage scientists.

Sir Jeremy Farrar said Covid infections must be cut from the current 750,000 to just 9,000 “before we can think about lifting restrictions”.

While Prof John Edmunds said opening schools could push the R rate above 1, and some restrictions will be needed until Christmas.

Covid deaths have dropped by over a quarter in a week with 621 more fatalities yesterday- as Mr Johnson revealed he is "optimistic" about lockdown lifting.

A further 13,308 Brits tested positive for the disease – bringing the total number of infections to 4,027,106.

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