28 teachers working for the National Autistic Society (NAS) in the UK were sent dismissal notices this morning. The teachers are fighting changes to their contracts which are being imposed by the management. The changes include worsening pay and sick pay as well as shorter holiday entitlements. This despite the fact that teachers of autistic children are some of the most skilled and dedicated people in our profession.

The teachers work across four schools run by the society and have yet to be awarded the 1% pay increase that other teachers have received. The NAS is pleading poverty even though it has reserves of almost $40 million, thirty administrative staff earn over $100,000 with the chief executive earning $230,000. When the latest detriment to their pay and conditions was brought in teachers in both the main unions, the NUT and NASUWT voted to take strike action. Teachers on the picket lines said that they had encouragement from parents, who hooted their car horns in support.

The NAS is also intending to open several so-called 'free' schools, according to its annual report. The move towards more and more schools in England being run by charities and private businesses is hugely damaging to state education in the country. While there is a place for groups like the NAS to raise awareness and lobby on behalf of their client group, the responsibility for educating all children should be with accountable state schools. It is precisely this entitlement that the right wing coalition government in the UK, like those in many parts of the world, is seeking to end. Teachers like those at the NAS schools are not only fighting for their own pay and conditions they are also fighting for the future of public education for all children.

In another development earlier this week, teachers at the STEM6 free school in London, won a significant victory when their threatened strike won union recognition from a head and management which had previously ruled out having a union in the school and attempted to impose a zero hours contract on the teachers.

Please tweet your support for the sacked teachers at @autism_28