The Daily Telegraph
Face of teachers’ strike had ‘dead Tory’ placard
Calls for Left-wing union member to resign after posting image of ‘hatred’ from London classroom
A leader of the teachers’ strike posed in a classroom with a placard reading “only good Tory is a dead Tory”. Lucy Preston, 38, was featured in media outlets this week explaining why the National Education Union (NEU) shut down most schools in England and Wales by walking out on Wednesday. She is now under “urgent” investigation by her own hard-left union after this newspaper sent officials images of her posing with the placard at an east London school.
A FIGUREHEAD of the teachers’ strike posed in a classroom with an “only good Tory is a dead Tory” placard, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Lucy Preston, 38, was featured in media outlets this week explaining why she and 200,000 other members of the National Education Union (NEU) shut down most schools in England and Wales by walking out on Wednesday.
She is now under “urgent” investigation by her own hard-left union after this newspaper sent officials images of her posing with a placard in class at George Green’s School on the Isle of Dogs, where she teaches English.
Conservative MPS have demanded that the 200-year-old east London secondary and sixth form assess whether her “hatred” is “fit for the classroom”.
Ms Preston, a committee member of the NEU’S Tower Hamlets branch, posed in class smiling with a placard, which said “The only good Tory is a dead Tory” and “The only good Lib Dem is a dead Lib Dem”.
In the picture, posted to her Instagram account on Jan 20, she wrote in a caption: “Student of the week goes to the ledge who made me and @ninis_ nails [Naoise Mcgeer-letson, an art teacher at the same school] this placard.” The Telegraph has also obtained Twitter posts stretching back to 2011, when Ms Preston – a Jeremy Corbyn supporter – began teaching, in which she writes of “punch[ing] some Tories in the t---” and praising a Year 7 pupil for drawing David Cameron as a “monster”.
In media interviews this week, the mother of two said she was so cashstrapped on her £1,800 a month salary that she missed her son’s fourth birthday to work a second private tutoring job. Every month “is a struggle” she said.
She was trailed as a public face of the NEU’S first of seven days of walkouts on Wednesday, when 200,000 of its 300,000 members staged a walkout in pursuit of an above-inflation pay rise.
Now, she could be suspended or dismissed after NEU chiefs launched an investigation into this paper’s findings.
An NEU spokesman said: “The NEU in no way condones the use of violent language or imagery. We have begun a process of investigating this incident.”
Robin Walker, a senior Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons education select committee, said: “Of course it’s right teachers should teach children about politics and politically contentious issues, but they’re under a duty to do it in a balanced way. Any imagery of that sort is clearly not at all balanced or reasonable.”
The NEU’S rules state “discriminatory behaviour” is liable to disciplinary action and sanction.
George Green’s School’s code of conduct for teachers says staff must not use the school premises “for their personal usage on internet/social media” or use their status as a staff member for “personal advantage” in political activities.
Jon Ryder, the school’s principal, confirmed it was also investigating the findings, saying it “actively promotes a culture of mutual respect and tolerance and does not condone violence or this kind of language”.
London was the region hardest hit by school closures, data released yesterday showed. The Department for Education said that 24 per cent of schools in London were fully closed, the highest of any region in England. A further 59 per cent of schools in London were partially closed. The least affected region was the East Midlands, where 5 per cent of schools were fully closed.