Wednesday, 6 September 2017

McStrikers - inspiring every worker to act against low pay and bullying management

It was a privilege to be able to listen to Lewis, one of the strikers at Crayford McDonalds, explaining about their dispute at a meeting hosted by Greenwich UNITE and the National Shop Stewards Network in South-East London this evening.

Lewis explained how the arrival of a new store manager at the Crayford branch had been the last straw for a workforce who, like most fast food workers, were already fed up with the low pay and working conditions that they were supposed to put up with. This bullying manger picked on vulnerable workers yet, despite numerous grievances taken out by staff, the company did nothing to address them. 

It's a tale that too many workers - including teachers - will recognise but the difference at Crayford McDonalds (and similarly at the Cambridge branch) is that the workers have stood up to the bullying and joined a union that is prepared to back them in action, the Bakers Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU).

As Lewis explained, the workers at Crayford voted 96% for strike action and, together with their Cambridge colleagues, hit the headlines with their McStrike action on Monday. 

McDonalds tried to dismiss the action as being taken by an insignificant 0.01% of their workforce. However, they had better start worrying, because if these two workplace strikes can produce the amount of media coverage that Monday's action received, just think what further damage to their reputation will be done by further, and wider, strikes!

As the meeting discussed, Monday's strike is indeed just the beginning. As a UNITE member in the meeting tonight put it, "now it's going to be that manager who is the most frightened person in the building, because you've shown the power of a union when people stand up together"

As I said myself in congratulating Lewis and his colleagues, the strike hasn't just encouraged other young fast food workers, it's also inspired older trade unionists too. As teachers have said to me, 'if McDonalds workers can stand up for themselves, we should be too'. As one sign of that growing mood for action, one of the McDonalds strikers will be speaking at the pay rally being called by unions across the London Region on October 12.

Trade unionists can donate to help McDonalds strikers and, above all, encourage other young workers they know to get involved themselves. Just as with other disputes, we can also co-ordinate our campaigns together - and it was great to know that Lewis already knew about the strike action being taken in nearby Charlton Park Academy in a dispute over cuts to sickness entitlements which continues this term.

If you live locally, come and help support the campaign in Woolwich on Saturday September 16th. As it says on the Facebook event page, "we will be collecting funds for the strike and also talking to workers and the public on the high street about why we should all be in a trade union".

I'll leave the last word to Lewis: "McDonalds sets the benchmark for other companies setting poverty wages - if we can shift them, we can also help thousands more workers too". Let's make sure we help them, alongside the BFAWU and the Fast Food Rights campaign, to do exactly that!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

London's educational success is being put at risk by teacher shortages

Evidence of London's educational success
Everyone agrees that, over the last two decades, London schools have been an educational success story - but that success is now being put at risk by teacher shortages and funding cuts. Above all, it will be London's young people who will lose out unless the Government acts to fully fund schools.

At the end of last term, the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) produced its 27th annual report . The evidence within it makes crystal clear that salaries that fail to match the high cost of living in London are leading to a growing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

NEOST, the 
National Employers’ Organisation, reported that every London local authority giving evidence for their STRB submission reported difficulties with teacher recruitment and retention and blamed the high cost of living, particularly housing, for driving teachers out of the area.
From the STRB's 27th Report - July 2017

The STRB report itself confirmed that London has the highest numbers of schools reporting classroom teacher vacancies or temporarily-filled posts. That is a direct consequence of the fact that the STRB also reports that classroom teachers’ median earnings trail the estimated median earnings of other professionals in London by a significant margin (over £7,000 in Inner London).
From the STRB's 27th Report - July 2017

The STRB complains that, in its previous 2016 report "we said that, based on our assessment of recruitment and retention alone, there was a case for a higher than 1% uplift to the national pay framework ... Our analysis of the evidence for the current pay round shows that the trends in recruitment and retention evident last year have continued – teacher retention rates continued to fall, particularly for those in the early stages of their career, and targets for ITT recruitment continue to be missed. We are deeply concerned about the cumulative effect of these trends on teacher supply. We consider that this presents a substantial risk to the functioning of an effective education system".

Yet, despite this damning indictment of Government policy, the STRB went on to recommend an annual pay award to most teachers of .... another 1%! (although they did recommend a 2% increase for the bottom and top of the Main Pay Range - an increase which all teacher unions agree should at least be applied to all teachers on that scale).

The STRB blame 'restricted school budgets' for going any further - but that is just accepting that school funding cuts have to be swallowed, along with the damage they are doing to education through teacher shortages, rising class sizes and job cuts. Why should we accept the unacceptable?

To make matters worse, there is a real risk that, when the Government finally soon confirms its decisions on a new school funding formula, London schools will be particularly badly hit. 

The capital's educational success is in real danger. Londoners need to keep up the campaign to defend it.

Public sector unions are coming together across London to say 'end the pay cap now' on October 12

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Should you be getting furious about 'furious cycling' ?

As I cycled back from work tonight along the South Circular Road, I decided I should post some thoughts about some of the 'anti-cyclist' prejudice that seems to have been whipped up as a consequence of the conviction of Charlie Alliston

Let me say at the outset, that I am certainly not automatically jumping to the defence of the convicted cyclist. There can only be heartfelt sympathy for Kim Briggs' husband and family who have suffered such a sudden and tragic loss.

The trial and verdict have also been hotly debated amongst regular cyclists like myself. We all know that, just like car drivers, there are people who drive badly and that they can give other drivers a bad name. However, we also know that, when you crash on two wheels rather than four (as I have just witnessed this evening with a motorbike in Sydenham), it is the bike rider who is likely to come off far worst. That includes crashes with pedestrians, as my brother-in-law can vouch for when he ended up hospitalised when someone stepped off the pavement into his path as he was riding (slowly) past.

Regrettably, the consequence of some of the 'anti-cyclist' press coverage could all too easily be even more dangerous 'anti-cyclist' behaviour by those car drivers who already give cyclists a hard time - and put our health and safety at risk.

The reason why a 'healthy' majority of cyclists ride with plenty of care and attention is that we know from experience that if a car - or indeed a pedestrian - collides with us, then we're likely to be the ones who end up with, at best, a graze and a buckled wheel, but too often with both bones and bike broken. 

The fatal injuries sustained by Kim Briggs were just one of the many deaths and serious injuries that have resulted from cycling accidents. RoSPA reported 100 cyclists dying in 2015 alone, many at roundabouts and road junctions when either the car or cyclist 'failed to look properly'.

Commuting on a bike in London is certainly not just physical exercise but also an exercise in constant concentration - looking out for the driver who is about to turn in front of you without indicating, the pedestrian about to walk off the kerb, the erratic driving of those texting in the traffic or even under the influence of one substance or another (you can smell the smoke as you cycle past the open window) ...

Of course, nobody but Charlie Alliston knows exactly what the circumstances were when he collided with Kim Briggs. He certainly didn't do himself any favours through the insensitive comments he posted after the crash. However, many cyclists have questioned the attempts by the prosecution to demonise him and the debatable 'expert witness' claims about stopping distances. 

Alliston should certainly have had a front-brake fitted but, without knowing more about how much time he had to react, it's hard to know whether or not that brake would have actually avoided the collision. Unfortunately, press reporting of trials rarely gives a balanced account (as the Jobstown defendants discovered in Ireland!) and so we will have to trust that the jury who heard the whole evidence reached the right conclusion, rejecting the manslaughter charge.

Certainly, some cyclists have complained that there appeared to be double-standards at work, asking whether a car-driver would have been prosecuted if a pedestrian had walked out in front of a car without looking (if that was in fact the case with Kim Briggs).  On the other hand, and I may be being unfair to 'fixie' riders, I do wonder whether the real issue here was whether Alliston (without being able to change down to a lower gear) was too concerned about maintaining his speed and not enough about slowing down, until it was too late (*see update below).

Having said that, it's important to stress that riding at a good speed does not imply riding dangerously. In fact, statistics suggest that slower riders are often the most vulnerable because "faster cyclists may be treated with more respect by drivers and subjected to fewer overtaking manoeuvres". So when cyclists ride fast enough to keep up with the traffic, and go to the front of traffic queues so that cars can't then turn left across their path, they are riding safely, not dangerously.

Rather than allowing the press to whip up division between pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers, we should be united together in demanding the urgent investment that is needed - particularly in London - to provide a safe, affordable, efficient and sustainable public transport system that allows everyone to get where they need to without the stress, danger and expense that our crumbling rail and road networks guarantee every commuter at present. That needs to include investment in cycling infrastructure to provide for the increasing numbers of commuting cyclists who rightly see it as a healthy, cheaper and non-polluting way of getting to work, but want to make sure that it is also a safe way of doing so as well. 

Update - 25 August
Having posted links to this blog in a couple of places and looked elsewhere on social media, it's been interesting to see the range of opinions  - although the fact that the press are succeeding in dividing people on the issue has also been evident. I can't update with all those comments but here's three points of view that I want to add:

1) From another Penge CC member
I was wary about saying anything too definitive about riding fixies and track bikes in London as I cannot speak from personal experience (there's been enough of that in the press already) but this informed comment from another London rider gives an opinion on Alliston's actions that many other cycling commuters would share: 
"I have the same track bike as the one involved in the crash. A fixed gear drivetrain is absolutely no substitute for a brake. I have no idea what gear he had fitted, and it is easier to slow the bike down when you have an easier gear, but 18mph is not a cautious speed in the context of having no brakes in an urban area. People involved in an accident riding an unroadworthy bike should expect to be prosecuted".

2) From a Socialist Party member
A number of people have commented about how the aggressive and unthinking behaviour of a minority of road users is part of a wider alienation in a society that functions by dividing people against each other: 
"We should be discussing how the pressures of this cut-throat business model which pits workers against each other to compete for jobs breeds and encourages precisely the kind of ignorant, anti-social, alienated and alienating attitude towards other workers and road users manifested in the obnoxious behaviour displayed by Alliston. The main culprit is not 'drivers', 'pedestrians' or 'cyclists' but capitalism which fails to invest in safe road infrastructure and public transport with the result that all of us are taking unnecessary risks every time we venture onto the highway".

3) From West Midlands Traffic Police
This might seem like an unusual source for me to draw on, but perhaps their sense of humour reflects the fact that these are presumably people who sometimes have to literally pick up the pieces after a road accident. The key to me is the hashtag in the tweet: #infrastructure. That's where all the anger washing around this discussion needs to be directed - to win investment in the decent cycling infrastructure and reliable cheap public transport that would really address road safety and help protect all of us trying to get around London on roads that just can't cope with the volume of road-users.



Monday, 10 July 2017

Review Body 'divide-and-rule' on pay will only make matters worse in schools


Today's report from the School Teachers' Review Body has done nothing to 'break the 1% pay cap' as some initial reports have stated. No, only new teachers on the very bottom of the main pay range will get a 2% increase (and even that is still less than inflation - so still a cut in real terms). For everyone else, it's a performance-related award.

The STRB recognise there's a problem - but their recommendations could even make things worse

If you are no longer on the main pay range, it's definitely 1% only. But, even for most main pay range teachers, there's no guarantee of a 2% increase - the STRB want that to depend on your 'performance' and the state of your school's budget. 

Even though the maximum of the range (M6 in most schools) will be increased by 2%, it doesn't mean that eligible teachers will automatically receive it. The STRB have already trialled in a previous report the divisive idea that only some M6 teachers get the full award - others might get a lower increase, depending on their appraisal. Today's report is a further twist of the damaging performance-pay knife and another attempt to atomise national pay scales through school-by-school decisions.

The STRB say they are worried about teacher morale*, recruitment and retention. But how much more divisive and demoralising could they have been than to recommend this?!

The key paragraphs from the Report are quoted below but, in summary, the STRB are saying effectively that there's not enough in school budgets to give everyone 2%, even on the main scale, so schools should pick and choose who 'deserves' it most:

5.26 "Our remit requires us to consider the affordability of our recommendations. The Secretary of State emphasised to us that there will be no additional funding for schools to implement a pay award. We recognise that implementing a pay uplift of more than 1% within their current funding allocations may require some school leaders and governing bodies to take difficult decisions"


5.27 "As we have stated in previous reports, uplifts to the minima and maxima of the various ranges in the national pay framework do not automatically translate into the same level of uplift to all individual teachers’ salaries in payment. Pay decisions for teachers (including those currently paid at the maximum of their pay range) should be made locally in line with the school’s pay policy and related to an annual appraisal of performance, subject to all being paid between the minimum and maximum of their pay range. This allows school leaders and governing bodies to set pay policies that enable them to make differentiated pay awards, when justified by performance or local circumstances, and which allow them to make best use of their budgets".

NUT Divisions in London, with the support of other trade unions, have already announced a response:

SHAKE THE MAGIC MONEY TREE and SCRAP THE PAY CAP
Demonstration and rally
THURSDAY OCTOBER 12th
  • Assemble 5:30pm opposite Downing Street
  • March past Department for Health - Treasury - Department for Education - Home Office
  • Rally in Parliament Square

NOTES:

* Even the STRB state that NEOST, representing the employers, commented to them (para 2.50) that "schools would prefer to avoid making differential performance-based awards to avoid any negative impact on morale as they believe that this would outweigh any positive impact on individuals". It seems that the STRB has even ignored the employers' evidence.
* For an update on Justine Greening's false promises over funding, see this article

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

London Councils report on the impact of school cuts - why Forest Hill is getting it so wrong

London Councils have just published a significant report called 'Talking Heads' reporting the views of around 400 London school leaders. The research describes how "Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren".

'Talking Heads' provides a valuable insight into the real difficulties facing London schools which I hope to summarise in a further post. However, on a day when NUT members took a tenth day of strike action to protest at the staffing cuts at Forest Hill School in Lewisham, the report shows that the steps being taken by Lewisham Council and the FHS management contrast with the solutions being reached by other schools. In short, it is more evidence that the Forest Hill staffing cuts need to be reconsidered.

1. Schools are trying to avoid cutting staffing budgets- why not Forest Hill?
No school should have to make damaging cuts to any areas of their budget but the National Audit Office have already warned in their report 'Financial Sustainability of Schools' about their concern that "schools tend to reduce the proportion of their spending on teaching staff before other areas of spending" ... which risks "detrimental effects on educational outcomes".  

Actually, the London Councils report suggests that the school leaders surveyed are taking heed of this warning and seeking to protect teaching staff budgets where they can:



In contrast, Forest Hill School has concentrated on reducing deficits by making staffing cuts while actually increasing its budget on 'professional services' ! It needs to think again.

2. Further evidence that Forest Hill has NOT been spending an excessive proportion of its budget on staffing
Lewisham Council have consistently peddled a line that the budget difficulties at Forest Hill School are due to excessive staffing expenditure. The NUT have been told that FHS spends an unusually high 81% of its budget on staffing. However, the NUT has challenged this figure since the school's own figures suggest it really stands at 73%, according to forecasts provided by the school for 2016/17.

Lewisham Council certainly needs to read the report produced by the London Councils body that it belongs to.  It makes clear that "London headteachers described staffing costs as accounting for around 80% of overall school budgets". 

So this is further confirmation that it isn't the proportion of the budget spent on staffing at Forest Hill that is 'unsustainable', as Lewisham Council claims, but their own mistaken benchmarking claims demanding excessive staffing cuts at the school. It needs to think again.

3. Schools recognise the dangers in cutting planning time - certainly to the levels being considered by Forest Hill


The Report includes evidence of some schools having to cut the school day to make up for reduced teacher numbers. There is a proposal to do this at Forest Hill too, if only for 25 minutes on a Monday, although this is counteracted by plans to teach other lessons after the official end of the school day.

Some schools are also having to look at cutting planning time.  For example, the report  quotes one Head as saying: "Currently our teachers teach 42 periods out of a 50 period fortnight so if we looked to increase that to 43 periods over 50 periods we’d probably save on about three teachers". But Forest Hill is imposing as many as 44 teaching periods out of 50 (22/25 hourly lessons per week). This will leave FHS teachers with one of the highest timetable loadings of any secondary school across London.

Another Head quoted confirms that "a main scale teacher teaches 42"  but then adds "I could have made the teachers teach more, however, their job is tough enough and my worry is if I make them teach more they’re going to leave in their droves and it’s actually going to become a false economy, or they’re going to get ill and then my cover budget goes up. So, I don’t really think that that’s a runner at the moment". Regrettably, that's exactly what is happening at Forest Hill.

Heads know the particular danger that teacher resignations can have to London schools - because teacher recruitment is even harder in the capital than elsewhere in the country:


Sadly, Forest Hill School have chosen to apply this 'false economy'. Teachers are leaving in droves. Those that haven't yet resigned are now being shown their teaching timetables for next year. Many will face teaching class after class without any break in their timetabled day to plan and prepare for other classes. More teachers will leave - and Forest Hill will struggle to replace them adequately. The Council and School need to think again.

 4. Most schools recognise the damage caused by staffing cuts - but Forest Hill parents have been told they will 'herald a new dawn' for the school.
'Talking Heads' states that "Headteachers were unanimous in their support for Teaching Assistants, and described their centrality to improving student outcomes. However, their lack of statutory requirement in the classroom leaves them in a vulnerable position. ... As a final resort, teachers have been lost".

Forest Hill School's 'new dawn' consists of starting a new academic year with 15 fewer teaching posts and 23 fewer classroom and non-classroom based support staff. That can only harm teaching, learning and student outcomes. 

The Council and School need to think again!
London is experiencing a school funding crisis that is damaging the quality of education schools can provide, research commissioned by London Councils has revealed. Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren.

London is experiencing a school funding crisis that is damaging the quality of education schools can provide, research commissioned by London Councils has revealed. Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren.

London is experiencing a school funding crisis that is damaging the quality of education schools can provide, research commissioned by London Councils has revealed. Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren.

London is experiencing a school funding crisis that is damaging the quality of education schools can provide, research commissioned by London Councils has revealed. Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren.

London is experiencing a school funding crisis that is damaging the quality of education schools can provide, research commissioned by London Councils has revealed. Headteachers face huge challenges in coping with reducing budgets, recruiting and retaining teachers, and managing teachers’ workload so that they can deliver the best quality education for our schoolchildren.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Why Forest Hill School needs more staff

The NUT has produced a leaflet to explain why our members at Forest Hill School - boosted by members transferring from both other teaching unions - are taking three days of strike action this week:

38 posts cut by September - what kind of ‘new dawn’ will that be for Forest Hill students?
Teachers and parents opposed to the £1.3 million staffing cuts at Forest Hill School have tried everything we can to persuade Lewisham Council and school management to think again.
We’ve written letters, held meetings, marches and strikes but still they refuse to accept that these cuts will damage education. Instead, they claim they ‘herald a new dawn’ for the school !
Next term will still see the same numbers  of pupils, with the same range of needs, coming to Forest Hill. As always at FHS, staff will do their best to support every pupil but, as things stand, there will be 38 fewer staff to do so.
The restructuring means 23 support staff and 15 teaching posts will have gone. What kind of ‘new dawn’ is that?
It’s time for the Council and School to  admit that cutting these posts means  cutting education. They need to think again for the sake of Forest Hill students.


These cuts can be stopped
As we explain in this leaflet, at least some of these staff cuts can be easily reversed. All it needs is for those in charge to stop digging their heels in and start to do what’s best for education.
So join us in demanding they:
●    Admit these cuts damage education
●    Admit they have cut too many staff
●    Use the options available to them to at least reverse the worst of the cuts so that Forest Hill students have the            education they need in September.


The NUT is striking to demand that at least some of the staffing cuts are withdrawn at Forest Hill
Our demands are very simple. We want assurances that the school will put in place a plan to recruit:
1. More staff to reverse the most serious cuts, especially to SEN and pastoral provision. Cuts to learning mentors and teaching assistants are already leading to cuts in   support to some of the students who most need that help.
2. More teachers to allow a reduction in teacher contact time. The new timetable will halve the amount of time teachers have in the school day to plan, prepare and  mark books, contact parents and speak to students.


The Council and School have got their figures wrong. Too many staff have been cut.
Lewisham Council’s mistakes have already had a bad outcome for one local school, Sedgehill School. Now their mistakes could also damage education at Forest Hill too.


Councillors keep giving the excuse that Forest Hill was spending too much of its budget on staff and that’s why cuts had to be made. When we questioned this, we received a written   reply saying that FHS spent 81% on staffing. But the School’s own consultation document shows this is untrue. It shows staff costs at £7,540 K from a £10,126 K total expenditure - or 74.5%. This is actually less than the 76% the National Audit Office say schools typically spend.


The School has swung the axe at jobs ahead of other savings. Worse, spending on some non-staffing headings has gone up! Budget forecasts have shown the allocation for ‘professional services’ going up by £300k alone since Xmas. We’ve asked why - but we’ve had no answer.


Why is the issue of workload and timetable loading so important to NUT members ?
Everyone involved in education knows that long working hours are the main reason why schools struggle to recruit and retain teachers. Forest Hill has shown what happens when you threaten to make workload even worse - teachers leave. At least 23 teachers have resigned for the end of term. Add all those leaving, e.g. through redundancy, and nearly ⅓ of teachers will be going.


The Head is telling parents that he has met workload concerns by having an early closure on a Monday (although it now seems some will be teaching classes after school on other days!) - but those 25 minutes won’t make up for losing 3 hours of non-contact time during the school week.


Think about a teacher with a class of 30 boys. Giving each book just two minutes of marking uses up a full hour. But teachers have lots of classes. They will have to do even more work after school. That’s not just a problem for teachers. As the Department for Education has warned Heads: "Teachers forced to mark work late at night and at weekends are unlikely to operate effectively in the classroom". Workload is an issue for parents, students & teachers. That’s why we are asking for extra staff to provide at least some additional timetable release for teachers. 


We aren’t asking for the ‘impossible’. Here are some ways to find additional funding:
1. The school budget forecasts include a £100,000 figure for emergency ‘contingency’. Use it!
2. Redirect money from rising non-staffing budgets towards reversing some of the staffing cuts.
3. The School has had to find an additional £0.5 million from its own budget to pay the costs of redundancies. The Council could be (we think by law should be) meeting these costs.
4. There is increasing pressure on the Government to find additional funding for schools. The Council could postpone some of the cuts while the national school cuts campaign continues.
5. As Greenwich Council has shown, there are clear mechanisms open to the Council to reduce funding pressures, particularly by agreeing to extend the time that it has set for the licensed deficit to be repaid from the school budget and/or by directing specific funding towards FHS.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Supporting schools, staff and families left with the consequences of Grenfell

Hundreds of schools are taking part in #GreenforGrenfell events today to show support, sympathy and solidarity with all those affected by last week's horrific fire.


The consequences of the fire will, of course, last long after the immediate events and publicity. As key parts of their local communities, schools will have a particularly important role to play but, against a background of school cuts, will need the resources to be able to provide the support required. 

School staff themselves have been directly affected by the fire and, across London and beyond, teachers will be sharing the same anger and concerns as others will, both about this avoidable disaster and the need to ensure the safety of all schools and homes in future as well.

On behalf of the London NUT Regional Office, I issued the following statement to our Divisions earlier this week: 

We have all been shocked by the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower last week.

You have already received information about ways that NUT Divisions and schools can show their solidarity and support for those affected including ‘Wearing Green For Grenfell’ this Friday 23rd June and details of charities working in the area. However, I wanted to make sure you were also updated on how NUT members have been affected by the fire.

As trade unionists are part of their local community, it should be no surprise that a number of trade unions, including UNITE and PCS, have already reported that they had members living in Grenfell Tower. I can inform you that two NUT members were also Grenfell residents. They both managed to escape from the building that night but both will be grieving for neighbours who did not. The Union is, of course, offering these colleagues our help and support.

Schools in the area now have to support children and families in very difficult circumstances. We are liaising with the ‘Triborough’ Divisions of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster to assist NUT members in making sure that schools and families have the support they need. A national joint union statement was released at the weekend calling for urgent action “to provide for the security, shelter and well-being of North Kensington’s children”.

Of course, it won’t only be in West London where staff and children will have concerns and fears about the safety of their homes and schools. A second joint union statement was released yesterday “seeking urgent reassurances about fire safety in schools in light of the tragic and avoidable fire at Grenfell Tower”. I would encourage Divisions to approach your Local Authority to seek reassurances about steps being taken by them to secure fire safety in schools and tower blocks locally.

If you have specific concerns and/or if you hear of NUT members who may have been directly affected by the fire, please do contact the London Regional Office for support".