Ken Muller

Union free school no more

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The strike at STEM6 Academy in north London against zero hours contracts and for union recognition shows that if you get organised and fight hard you can win.

Early in October 2013 a message arrived at the Islington NUT office from a teacher at the newly opened STEM6 Academy telling us that she had never been a union rep before and asking for our support in negotiating teachers' terms and conditions.

The three months which followed saw her lead an often bitter fight which, although taking place in a small workplace, has won a big victory with major implications for other free schools, as well as important lessons for workers facing nasty anti-union employers.

The best is yet to come

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Holding the Islington NUT banner at the corner of Parliament Square last month, just before Eton-educated David Cameron and his new fag, Nick Clegg, were about to lead their MPs to vote for a trebling of university fees, my mind flashed back to October 1968.

Then, as a 17 year old apprentice telephone engineer, I had joined the second big anti Vietnam War demonstration that year to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.

In some ways the protests were similar: the violence of the cops, the thousands of students who fought back and the rapidity with which things can change. But there is an important difference.

The Great City Academy Fraud

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Francis Beckett, Continuum, £16.99

Back in the mid-1960s as a young teenager, I remember Paul McCartney being described in a newspaper as the "Brainy Beatle" because he had five O levels.

Today, with around 60 percent of students taking their GCSEs at least matching McCartney's achievements by obtaining five A-C grades or better, this accolade seems (as well as being unjust to John Lennon) a little exaggerated.

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