'Education, education, education' was the mantra upon which Tony Blair was first elected to Government in 1997. His promise to put education at the forefront of the political agenda was welcomed by many teachers who had been faced with constant criticism from successive Conservative governments since the watershed election of 1979. For these teachers, one perhaps unexpected initiative of New Labour was a further intensification of the monitoring of schools with the 'naming and shaming' of so called 'failing' schools. Such schools are situated in the 'relegation zone' of the school league tables and face the possibility of closure. A 'failing' school is often seen as synonymous with 'failing' management and staff. This book, based on a case study of a 'failing' school, identifies the problems and stigmas associated with working in a 'failing' school and how these create tensions and anxieties in the workplace. Conflict in schools is rarely mentioned and little attention is given to the effect of government imposed initiatives when implemented at school level.
The book addresses this by providing an insight into the breakdown of the employment relationship as the school management strive to introduce initiatives to turn the school around. The nature of these initiatives are contested by the teaching staff and conflict develops in the school. As the school faces closure, the teachers turn to their trade union for support. The book looks into the complex relationship that exists between the local rank and file members and their Regional and National union representatives whilst also exploring the significance of political affiliation for local trade union activists.
Moira Calveley is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Employment Studies, Business School, University of Hertfordshire. She has a Ph.D. in Industrial Relations and has published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations.