Saturday, 31 May 2014

Gove doesn't understand - I do. Please vote POWELL-DAVIES #1 for NUT GS

Even my opponents have conceded that my campaign materials have been well-received in schools. My clear call for a calendar of action and for the Union to reach out to parents and mobilise members around clear campaign objectives have also struck a chord with beleaguered classroom teachers.

The confusion around the decision taken by the last meeting of the NUT National Executive has also confirmed why I am arguing that the Union has to ‘sharpen our message’. A decision to move our planned strike to July 10, hopefully to build a stronger and broader strike alongside support staff colleagues, was instead reported by the National Union as again postponing “to allow time to see if progress is possible in talks”. (see the Lewisham NUT newsletter - to better understand why July 10 has been chosen).


Regrettably, the May/June edition of ‘the Teacher’ failed to even mention the NUT General Secretary election. Some NUT members may still be unaware that, from June 4th, they will be receiving a voting paper to make a choice between myself and Christine Blower. Yet, if members are to vote, the first few days after they receive their voting papers are vital - before they get lost in teacher workload!

Anything that you can do to alert members and to draw attention to my campaign materials would be much appreciated. Thanks to the assistance and generosity of Local Associations and campaign volunteers, copies of my leaflets have been sent to schools across England and Wales. However, it is local recommendations and conversations that make the most difference. So please, if you can:

  • Display and distribute my campaign materials in schools.
  • Recommend to colleagues that they vote - and that they vote POWELL-DAVIES 1 !
  • Text and/or email members about my campaign, especially as ballot papers arrive at home.
  • Share my election materials and campaign video - all available to download under “Campaign Resources” on the right-hand side of this blog page.
  • Share my 300 word election statement, posted below:


I am seeking your support to lead the NUT in a battle we cannot afford to lose.

Whoever forms the next Government, Ministers will continue to: 

  • Cut costs, attacking pay, pensions, conditions 
  • Fragment schooling, narrow the curriculum, damage children’s education 
  • Scapegoat teachers while child poverty deepens

Teachers have solidly supported their Union’s campaign to defend education but know it’s far from won.

We experience:

  • Demoralisation and worsening workload
  • Pension and performance pay legislation imposed
  • Bullying and discrimination replacing encouragement and advice
  • Ofsted and observations instead of genuine support
  • Colleagues driven out of a profession they once loved


Continued public campaigning is essential but we will only win serious concessions when we show we are prepared to take serious action.

We must:

  • Prepare a calendar of ongoing action, rather than isolated ‘protest’ strikes
  • Reach out to parents, explaining we act to defend education
  • Escalate next term to maximise pressure before the Election
  • Collect strike funds to support those in greatest hardship
  • Organise firm workload action across schools

To mobilise support, we need clear objectives:

  • Real limits on teachers’ overall hours
  • At least 20% PPA for all
  • A full pension at 60 - not 68
  • End Performance-Related Pay
  • A £2,000 increase on all pay points
  • Abolish Ofsted and league tables


If elected, I will:

  • Encourage professional unity and united trade union action
  • Strengthen workplace organisation across all sectors
  • Build vibrant Local Associations
  • Publicise campaign successes
  • Sharpen our media messages
  • Work to reclaim education from damaging ‘reforms’
  • Give members confidence to take the action needed
  • Remain on a classroom teacher’s salary

“ Powell-Davies has claimed that our education reform plans will make teaching ‘a totally unbearable profession’ ”
 Michael Gove

Gove doesn’t understand. I do.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Global Education 'Reform': Building Resistance and Solidarity

On Saturday, 24th May, the NUT's London Headquarters was packed with teachers attending an international solidarity Conference - "Global Education 'Reform': Building Resistance and Solidarity".

The Conference, organised between the NUT and 'Teacher Solidarity' ( brought together speakers from an impressive range of countries to give a truly global perspective on the neo-liberal attacks on education across the world. Workshops heard from representatives from Venezuela, Greece, India, USA (Chicago), Ecuador, Mexico, Sweden and Canada (British Columbia). Additional speakers from Ethiopia and Turkey had, regrettably, been prevented from attending.

In this brief report, I cannot cover every aspect of what was discussed, but will highlight a few key points which I think of particular significance

Infected by the GERM: the Global Education Reform Movement

The opening overview from Professor Susan Robertson of Bristol University explained how the 'GERM' had been infecting education globally, driven by the idea that education was a commodity required for a successful economy. However, for teachers, pupils and their families, education had to be far more than that.

Drawing on Sahlberg's analysis (see also my own powerpoint 'A Warning from England on the GERM' - on ), Susan summarised these 'reforms' as being based on:
1) More Competition - supposedly to improve equality
2) Increased "School Choice" - turning parents and students into 'consumers'
3) Stronger 'Accountability' - with standardised testing being used to measure the worth of both students and their teachers.

As international research has confirmed, increased 'competition' does not improve education overall. However, like any competition, it creates 'winners' and 'losers' leading to greater disparity between schools.  

The success of the generally 'GERM-resistant' schooling in Finland gives the lie to those who claim that the GERM is needed to improve education. Finland performs consistently well in the international 'PISA' tests - even though they have been constructed largely to justify the need for GERM-style counter-reforms.

Contrasting examples of other systems that also do well in the international 'PISA' comparisons, like Shanghai, build 'success' under what Susan described as 'exploitative' conditions, where children are forced to study six days a week under harsh conditions of learning. That's surely not the vision for education that we wish to develop?

Of course, this marketisation of education also creates attractive business opportunities for edu-businesses like Pearson to profit from the market for schools, textbooks, IT systems, exams, inspection systems, curriculum materials and so on. Susan pointed to Pearson's work in Ghana where low-cost education packages were being sold to families desperate for their children to escape poverty for just 65 cents a day - but that's still typically a third of family income. The 'schools in a box' were being 'delivered' by high-school students paid just a fifth of the wages of a Ghanaian teacher.

To make profits and to undermine the trade union solidarity that has the power to resist these attacks, the GERM also aims to isolate and divide teachers through performance pay using comparative test scores that completely ignore the numerous factors that affect a child's development. As a paper from Larry Kuehn from British Columbia pointed out, the biggest factor underlying the difference in PISA results is poverty, not teaching. However, "it is easier - and cheaper - for governments to blame teachers" rather than to try and eliminate poverty.

However, Susan pointed out  that in countries like Chile, the neo-liberals had risked over-reaching themselves by their blatant attacks on education, provoking a reaction from school-students that had won widespread support from society. I returned home from the Conference to also read of successes for the Left in the Irish elections - in response to Government austerity policies - including the election of secondary teacher Ruth Coppinger as the second socialist TD (MP) for Dublin West.

In Britain too, we must expose the real agenda behind Government policy and win the support of parents and fellow trade unionists to back our struggle to defend teachers and education.

Political trade unionism

A further contribution from Lois Weiner from New Jersey City University made similar points but directly pointed to the role of "powerful elites who manage capitalism". Their representatives, like Arne Duncan in the USA, try to portray education as "the one true path out of poverty". Yet Lois argued that this approach, putting the responsibility - and blame - for success and failure on schools and teachers - neatly excuses the wealthy from their responsibility to address low wages  and unemployment - the real blockages on the path out of poverty.

These elites want to sell the idea to parents that, in a harsh competitive world, education is the route to a better life for their children and to portray teachers and their unions as wanting to disadvantage their children. Of course, for teachers, we do see education as a way to improve lives and develop human potential but, as Lois put it "unless we educate parents to the real facts of economic life, our opponents will fully exploit the utterly hypocritical and inaccurate claim that it is they who protect the poor".

Lois was particularly critical of the official international teacher trade union body, Education International, for being unwilling to take up such a political approach to trade unionism. Instead, Lois saw EI as wanting to somehow persuade the super-wealthy to go back to the post-war consensus in favour of greater redistribution of wealth and spending on education and other public services. 

I agree with Lois that this is a forlorn hope. The world's elite have no intention of turning back the clock to that exceptional period of human history - they want to break trade union strength so that they can sweep away all the gains won by working people. We have to use that strength to stop them.

I will finally report from the three workshops that I attended:


The workshop on Greece gave a stark indication of how the EU and IMF have been willing to destroy public services to defend the interests of the banks. Their harsh neo-liberal policies have created a humanitarian crisis in Greece, yet leaving the sovereign debt even greater than when the cuts had first been imposed.

Children were fainting in schools through lack of food, as impoverishment grew.  Education cuts had seen class sizes increase, a 30% cut in the number of secondary teachers and 1,200 schools closed since 2011. Of course, at the same time, private investors were being allowed to step in to open up new selective schools. Vocational schools were under particular attack with courses in, for example, health services and applied arts being abolished.

Teachers salaries had been slashed, and performance-pay measures introduced, with the fear of dismissal being used to try and cower teachers. Nevertheless strikes had taken place alongside other actions like occupations of Government Offices.

British Columbia

Larry Kuehn from the BC Teachers' Federation outlined the international work of their Union and the links that had been made with  teachers in Latin America in particular. He wanted to make clear that this was a "solidarity relationship, not charity". (See:

Larry also appealed for international support for their ongoing dispute to win a collective agreement that includes improved class sizes, salaries  and non-contact time (See: The BC Government has ignored court rulings in favour of the Union and, to escalate their action, the BCTF are now starting a rolling strike, where all schools will be on strike for one day a week from Monday May 26th. 

(As I have posted elsewhere, a similar struggle was also set to open in Norway from Monday as well - and I have sent messages of support to both unions. UPDATE: It appears that union negotiators and employers have reached an agreement in Norway that means strikes will not go ahead. However, the content of that agreement is clearly provoking considerable discussion within the ranks of the teachers' union).

Chicago - officials staying on a teachers' salary

Last, but not least, I report here on the workshop  led by the Chicago Teachers' Union. The CTU representative explained how they have been battling against a whole series of attacks -  on their bargaining rights, right to strike, performance-pay, school closures and the growth of 'charter schools' - all different examples of the GERM in practice.

Famously, the CTU has mobilised the support of teachers and parents to fight these attacks. But, as was made clear, this only happened after  the CTU was transformed by a new leadership determined to build a fighting union. 

The newly-elected officials made the same pledge as I am making in the NUT's General Secretary election - to remain on a classroom teachers' salary rather than the inflated salaries of previous officials. Finance has, instead, been directed towards campaigning and, in addition, research.

The CTU has deliberately developed a research department to produce materials setting out their demands for improved educational facilities, arguing against school closures (and exposing the racial discrimination evident in the closure program). (See

They had democratized and organised their Union, emphasising the need for maximum member involvement and reaching out to parents, public and faith communities to explain their case. There are many valuable lessons to learn, set out in a CTU Report, "A Sea of Red - Chicago Teachers Union members reflect on how the social organizing model of unionism helped win the union’s 2012 contract campaign" ( )

Save to Strike - Organising to Win

Crucially, and perhaps not so widely publicised in the NUT, the CTU had prepared well in advance for their victorious all-out strike of 2012. In response to my question, it was explained that members had been urged months in advance to put money aside to create their own "individual emergency fund" to sustain themselves through an extended strike. They had warned that perhaps a month's strike might be required - although in the end, with the backing of parents, seven days action proved sufficient.

Of course, specific strike tactics and calendars can't be automatically transferred from country to country. However, the lesson that NUT members must surely draw from Chicago is that, as well as having both a leadership and membership committed to organising workplace strength and reaching out to parents, the NUT urgently has to prepare for the serious battle required to win serious gains. 

We have to explain to colleagues the kind of calendar of escalating action that will be required over the months ahead to defeat the attacks we face. Then members can 'save to strike' on that basis and, for those in the greatest financial difficulties, we can appeal for hardship funds as well.

This Conference was an excellent step forward in building the international solidarity work of the NUT but, to coin a phrase, 'international solidarity begins at home'. Above all, the NUT has to set an example to our global colleagues of how to organise and win victorious struggles of our own.

Gove stoops to a new low in 'banning' US classic literature

“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. TRY TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!”    John Steinbeck.

Michael Gove has long since become a hated figure to anyone who genuinely understands education. However, the news in this morning's 'Sunday Times' that Gove has insisted that classic American literature such as 'Of Mice and Men', 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Crucible' must be dropped from the new English literature GCSE has shocked and angered teachers, parents and students alike. 

“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results"             Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

Of course, not only are these books fantastically written and enjoyed by the young people who study them, they are also thought-provoking - and of thoughts that perhaps Gove doesn't want pupils to have. After all, as in The Crucible, perhaps Gove doesn't want students to consider what life would be like in a world where dissent became unlawful - perhaps far better to 'ban' such 'satanic' literature instead!

"The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate --"We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one"    John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

This narrow-minded act by Gove may yet prove to be another miscalculation. Books like these have made an impact on many a young person - and young people who are now parents with children of their own. Gove's ignorant decision will help to make crystal-clear why teachers have to take action to stop the damage being inflicted on education - and why we are calling on parents to support our struggle.

UPDATE - In answer to some of the disingenuous DfE 'mythbusting' which has followed since the news first broke on the date I wrote this blogpost, this post - from the English & Media Centre - is certainly worth a read:

Friday, 23 May 2014

Lewisham NUT Newsletter - build for action on July 10
Click to download the full newsletter

This newsletter is going out to all 2000-plus members of Lewisham NUT:

Our last strike on March 26 was again solidly  supported, despite the fact that the NASUWT leadership decided, regrettably, that their members would not be taking action alongside us.

However, Gove has still not budged.  He still insists that  any talks can only be about “implementing” his policies. Pension contributions went up again   in April. This summer, schools may start to block pay progression using the imposed performance pay legislation. Workload and the stress of tests, targets and observations only gets worse.

We’ve got a clear choice to make. Do we just accept defeat and allow things to get even worse? Surely, the answer has to be NO. If we do, then even more colleagues will resign or be driven out   of a profession that they once loved. Conditions for teachers - and for our students - will deteriorate.

So, the only choice is surely to step up our action  so that  Cameron and Gove - and all of the political parties - have to take notice of what teachers are saying about the damage being done to education.


It doesn’t look like the NASUWT are making that choice at present, so the NUT needs to find other allies to work with - while trying to persuade our NASUWT and ATL colleagues to come on board too. 

Those allies can be our support staff colleagues who work so well with us in our schools - and whose unions - UNISON, GMB and UNITE - are now going to be balloting them for strike action over pay. 

If these unions win their ballots in May/June, then they are looking to  co-ordinate joint strike action  on Thursday 10 July. Other public sector unions like the PCS might join with them too.

That’s why the NUT Executive has agreed to name July 10 as the next date for a national NUT strike.

Every school NUT group needs to start making plans now to build for a solid strike. First, let’s encourage support staff to vote for action so that they can come out with us. Let’s talk to colleagues who may have wavered last time to build an even better turnout. Let’s show the Government that we’re not backing down, we’re stepping up our action to win!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

NUT National Executive Report - Prepare for co-ordinated action on July 10

Prepare for action on July 10 - and beyond

This afternoon's meeting of the NUT National Executive agreed a Campaign Report with recommendations that included the following (verbatim when in quotation marks):

UPDATE: Between posting this report and coming home, I've had a number of confused calls from reps who have read that "we have called the strike off for talks". Let's be clear, where perhaps the Union's official press release hasn't been, that was not the tone of the discussion at today's Executive at all. Of course, if 'talks' suddenly started to produce real movement, the Executive would have to consider its response at the June meeting - but with Gove still sticking to his claim that talks can only be about 'implementation' this is highly unlikely. I voted for this decision - and I'm sure other Executive members did too - in order to seek to achieve a stronger, broader action across school staff unions and beyond on July 10th - not because we're stepping back!

So, once again, here's what we agreed:
  • "Make preparations to give notice for strike action on 10 July" - the day that support staff unions balloting for action on pay have put forward as the date when they hope to be able to call a co-ordinated strike.
  • It was also reported that other public sector unions - e.g. the PCS - with live ballots already in place are also discussing the possibility of co-ordinating action too.
  • We continue to build the campaign stalls, Education Question Time events, Lobby of Parliament on 10 June and for the People's Assembly national demonstration on 21 June.
  • "Continue the Action Short of Strike Action with a view to a re-launch in September"
  • Work in Regions and Divisions to make plans to build support for our campaigns and turnout in the ongoing industrial action.
  • "Continue discussions with other local government/education unions in relation to ongoing campaigning and industrial action".
  • "Consult local officers and members on patterns of further strike action in the autumn term, including through surveys of reps and random samples of members to be conducted after 10 July". 
NUT Conference agreed that such consultation would "include putting the case for such action to members" - and reassurances were given that the June Executive meeting could discuss the draft content of any survey before it was issued (as well as getting an update on talks with government and news from other unions). 

Importantly, it was recommended by officers that the survey results be reported to the July National Executive - in time to make sure we could - if agreed - make plans for further action earlier in the autumn term, perhaps alongside other unions too.

Of course, at the same time another 'survey' of members will be taking place - the election for NUT General Secretary. I have consistently argued for the Union to announce a calendar of ongoing strike action, mobilising members around a clear set of campaign demands. I believe that the support for that demand will be reflected in support for my candidature in June's GS election.

Holidays - don't divide parents and teachers

A short but important discussion took place on the Salaries Committee in response to a letter from the RMT pointing out the difficulties facing rostered and shift workers in taking family holidays when their leave might only be made available to them during term time. This is a problem also facing many other working families and, as was raised in discussion, similar pressures also face migrant families as well.

In the past, many schools would have taken a more relaxed attitude to requests to take children out of school for holidays or overseas visits. Now, with schools under immense pressure to achieve both ever-improving exam results and attendance rates, more Heads are refusing to authorise absence requests with, under new legislation, some parents facing fines as a result.

This draconian approach amounts to discrimination against working-class families who are unable to choose the timing of their annual leave - and ignores the benefits of families being able to have such a break together. As the actual government guidance says, head teachers will want to consider "the frequency of the request; whether the parent gave advance notice; and the pupil's attainment (sic), attendance and ability to catch up on missed schooling". 

Surely it would be better for parents and schools to come up with suitable arrangements for students to try and catch up on missed schooling rather than to threaten fines and unreasonably refuse holidays?

Above all, the NUT needs to make clear to the RMT, other trade unions and parents, that we do not back a draconian approach being taken towards holidays - and that we will not allow the issue to become a way that Government legislation can be used to divide parents from teachers.

Finally ... Norway

My thanks to Christine Blower for reporting that she will be visiting Norwegian Teacher Unions shortly - allowing me to point out the threat to their negotiating rights, pay, pensions and conditions which, if not resolved this weekend, will result in selective strike action starting across Norway on Monday. Christine agreed that she would bring the support of the NUT to our Norwegian colleagues.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Campaign, Co-Ordinate, Escalate - a report from LANAC's Steering Committee

Keeping up the Momentum 

Twenty delegates and observers from fourteen different NUT Associations met in Coventry yesterday for LANAC's first national Steering Committee since Easter's NUT Conference (Those in attendance were from Lewisham, Rotherham, Central Notts, Dudley, Coventry, East London, Northampton, Central Bedfordshire, Hackney, Bristol, Barking and Dagenham, Leeds and  Warwickshire NUT Associations).

Together with the apologies given from others busy at other NUT events and/or campaigning activities, this wide-ranging turnout confirmed that the Local Associations National Action Campaign is maintaining the momentum we generated at Annual Conference. LANAC's call for a calendar of ongoing strike action became a central part of Easter's debates - and will remain a key issue in the ongoing discussions about how to achieve our campaign objectives. 

Download via


First and foremost, we all agreed that LANAC needed to do everything it could to build the Union's immediate campaigning activities this term. As explained in our post-Conference bulletin, these include campaign stalls, the Parliamentary Lobby on 10th June and the People's Assembly demonstration on 21st June. Reports included confirmation of coaches being booked for the London demo, plans for both local lobbying and lobbying in Parliament on June 10th, as well as local campaign stalls and pre-strike rallies with parents.


Of course, getting agreement to release colleagues to attend a Lobby is not always straightforward. To generate enthusiasm, the campaigning activities have to be linked to a wider plan to build for further strike action. That enthusiasm will hopefully be strengthened by the confirmation that support staff unions are also balloting for strike action over pay. 

I understand that UNISON's ballot opens on May 23rd and closes a month later and that, if members vote 'Yes', then, as the TES reported today, July 10th is the date being discussed as the first one-day strike in their ongoing campaign.

( )
With NUT Conference agreeing that we should show 'flexibility' on the timescale for our own one-day strike this term, this raises a real prospect of joint strike action by both teachers and support staff members at the end of term. Other unions like the PCS and FBU may also consider taking action alongside us too. 

[UPDATE: The GMB have also confirmed that they are following their succesful indicative ballot with a full strike ballot - it will also be completed in time to allow co-ordination with others in July and the PCS Conference has also voted to consult over taking co-ordinated action too]

Obviously, support staff unions first have to win their ballot - and teachers can play a role in encouraging their colleagues to vote. Hopefully, the prospect of a joint strike will encourage support staff to vote for action. It would certainly have a bigger impact in closing schools than if unions strike separately on different days. It would also help build unity across school staff. As I said to the TES, it will also ask questions of the NASUWT leadership who, let's hope, might also agree to take action given the continuing lack of any obvious 'progress' in talks with Ministers and their DfE officials.

As the discussion at the LANAC meeting illustrated, there are still some complications with co-ordinating action. UNISON have not balloted Academies at this stage, although I understand that they have plans to do so in time for them to be included in any further action after the summer holidays. July 10th is also very close to the end of term in some Local Authorities and, if there is a chance for unions to discuss further before final legal notices are issued, a slightly earlier date might be beneficial. However overall, LANAC's meeting agreed that the benefits of co-ordinated action still outweighed these difficulties.

The NUT Executive will be meeting on Thursday (May 22nd) to confirm the Union's decision. 


The prospect of co-ordinated action before the summer break also raises the prospect of further co-ordinated action next term too. Certainly the UNISON Local Government newsletter sent to its branches makes clear that 10 July is planned to be "the first one-day strike as part of a programme of action". After all, other unions besides the NUT are also drawing conclusions about the need for a calendar of escalating action if they are to have a real impact on their employers.

It would be inexcusable to allow a situation to arise where other unions were looking to escalate action after the summer break but to find that the NUT, with all its potential strength, were holding back from action. Unfortunately, that would be the case if the Executive insisted on a long series of 'surveys' at the beginning of  the Autumn Term. 

Despite warnings from some delegates supporting LANAC, NUT Conference did vote for a clause which could be interpreted as requiring such a delay. However, the actual wording instructed the Executive to "consult with members about a series of strikes ... this should include putting the case for such action to members and consulting with them through random representative surveys and fact-finding from divisions, associations and regional briefings". This leaves flexibility for a range of consultation methods, not just 'surveys,' and could - and should - start this term.

LANAC's Committee recommended that members of the NUT Executive press for an earlier consultation process to allow the NUT to be ready to escalate action without unnecessary delay, particularly if the prospect of earlier co-ordination arises on a date or dates nearer the beginning of the Autumn Term. We also believe that our proposal of a calendar of escalating action, including the possibility of two-day strikes, should be an important option discussed with members as part of any consultation. 

To be convinced to strike, members need to know that they are giving up pay for a reason. That means showing colleagues that they are taking part in action that is of sufficient strength to be able to win serious concessions from this Government.

Organising LANAC

The Committee also discussed a number of other proposals to organise LANAC including:
  • Setting a date for another LANAC Committee (provisionally October 4th) which, according to our rules, will also elect Steering Committee Officers (thanks were given to both Julie Lyon Taylor and Sally Kincaid who will be standing down as Chair and Vice-Chair).
  • Contacting Associations to invite reaffiliations - and new affiliations! - for 2014/15. The present annual affiliation fee of £10 will remain for now but we will discuss increasing this at our 'AGM' in October.
  • Planning a Conference later in the Autumn Term with a theme around organising strong Associations and supporting reps
  • Encouraging local LANAC meetings to bring together and support reps on a local basis
  • After the successful initiative in Brighton 2014, booking a 'LANAC' hotel for the 2015 Conference in Harrogate and also circulating draft motions in line with LANAC's agreed aims and policies
  • Finally, of course, plans were made for winning support for the candidates backed by LANAC for the GS and DGS - Martin Powell-Davies and Patrick Murphy.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

A new campaign video to share

Please watch and share:

Vote Martin Powell-Davies for NUT general secretary:

Links to all my campaign resources are listed below. Most link to 'Google Drive' - click 'file' and 'download' to obtain the file.

Campaign Resources

Workload Cartoon Campaign Poster

NUT General Secretary Campaign Poster

A5 GS campaign leaflet

Link to GS Campaign Video

Link to 150 word statement for emailing

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Ssshh - Don't mention the General Secretary election

When I got home tonight and read my copy of the NUT's "Teacher" magazine, I was saddened to find a glaring omission. I fear that some NUT colleagues will be more than saddened, they will be dismayed. 

Why? Because The Teacher is the NUT's main publication to communicate with its membership. Yet, in our May/June edition, teachers can read it from cover to cover and not find even the smallest mention of the fact that the NUT is holding its once-every-five-years election of its General Secretary.

The Teacher magazine, June 2004
Contrast our 2014 edition with the equivalent Teacher magazine from ten years ago - the last time there was a contested election. A front page, featuring all four candidates, encouraged members to vote - with further information inside.

This publicity followed on from an Annual Conference where a full hour was put aside for a General Secretary Election Hustings. In contrast, this year the GS election hardly got a mention (until Newsnight intervened!).

In 2004, I was one of those candidates. Indeed,  looking at my old publicity materials, my demands at that time still seem very relevant today. Clearly, there is a lot that the Union still needs to achieve. 
My demands from the 2004 GS election

A leadership election should be a vital opportunity for classroom teachers to participate in the vital debate about how we can start to achieve those gains needed to defend teachers and education. 

I will endeavour to make sure that debate takes place - indeed, it is only my stand that is ensuring that we have a contested election at all. I hope that Associations around the country will do the same by publicising this vital election - even if  'The Teacher' won't.

A Crime against Miners and their families at Soma

The deaths of so many miners after the explosion at the Soma mine in Turkey has led to both shock and sympathy from across the globe. However, as SPOT, Solidarity with People of Turkey - a solidarity organisation which I have been supporting since my visit to the Gezi Park (See: ) protests last year - have made clear, this was certainly no 'natural disaster'.

SPOT explain that, just 20 days ago, a “research and investigation commission” of mining risks proposed by opposition parties was rejected by the AKP government. The Soma coalmine was recently privatized with an opening ceremony attended by the Energy and Natural Resources and Social Security Minister Taner Yildiz, who declared the coalmine as the “safest coalmine in Europe”. The directors of the company that own the mine have boasted about reducing expenses by around 60%, yet want to suggest this is just an "accident".

At the suggestion of SPOT, I have sent this letter to the Turkish President and Prime Minister this morning:

Dear Sirs,

I am writing as a member of the National Executive of the National union of Teachers here in London to call on government ministers and senior officials in Turkey to launch a full independent investigation into the deaths of over 274 miners at the privately run Soma coalmine.

The deaths of the miners should not be categorised as “fate” or an “occupational hazard” as some of those who bear responsibility for this accident seem to be trying to imply. I urge you to listen to the demands of the Turkish public and international opinion, and call to account the owners of the Soma coalmine for the highly dangerous health and safety conditions that led to so many deaths.

The anger at this crime, as shown when the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic visited Soma, is felt internationally. International comparisons with mining accidents in other nations cannot hide the facts about the life threatening working conditions in Turkey’s privately run coalmines. It is well documented that the death toll in private mines in Turkey is eleven times higher than those in state owned mines. Furthermore, the request made to the Turkish parliament on 29 April 2014 for an enquiry into the health and safety conditions at the Soma coalmine presented an opportunity to prevent this tragedy. It seems clear that the lives of thousands of miners have been risked as part of cost saving measures, with tragic consequences for miners and their families.

The Turkish government must bring to account those responsible for the brutal corporate murder of the Soma coalminers and ensure that steps are taken to improve health and safety in the mining sector with the aim of preventing such “accidents” in the future.

Yours sincerely, 

Martin Powell-Davies,
Member of the NUT National Executive for Inner London

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

"The Devolution of Teachers" - a campaign poster to download

I've really appreciated hearing from the teachers who have been contacting me from different Associations across the National Union to back my campaign to become elected the next NUT General Secretary.

I am particularlyrly grateful to Marcus Owen, whose cartoon, "The Devolution of Teachers" features in my latest campaign poster:

Please click on the image - and then go to 'file' and 'download' on Google Drive to download a copy to share and print for your union noticeboard.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

GS election: members should make an informed choice - please share my statement

NUT members have an important decision to make in June when they receive their ballot paper to vote for the next General Secretary of the NUT. If they choose to use their vote, as I hope they will, they have a clear choice to make between the existing GS, Christine Blower, and myself, Martin Powell-Davies, a member of the NUT National Executive.

My candidature has ensured that there is a contested election for this key post in the Union. I hope this will help to engage NUT colleagues across England and Wales in the debate about how best to defeat the ongoing attacks on teachers and education. 

Click on image, then  go to file and download pdf
Short biographies and 300 word election statements from both Christine and I will be circulated with the voting papers. Regrettably, however, unlike last year's National Officers Election, NUT members won't have a chance to compare candidates' election statements on the National NUT website. This is because the rules state that both candidates must be in agreement  - and I was the only candidate willing for this to happen.

I hope that NUT Associations will agree that members should be given a full opportunity to read about the candidates and their policies before voting. I am grateful for those who have already agreed to circulate my election poster. I also hope that Associations would be prepared to email their members with the 150 word statement that I had hoped would be posted on the National NUT website. Here it is:  



I am seeking your support to lead the NUT in a battle we cannot afford to lose. 

Whoever forms the next Government, Ministers will continue to criticise teachers, undermine our pay and conditions, damage children’s education.

Teachers have solidly supported their Union’s campaign but know it’s far from won.

We experience:
  • demoralisation and worsening workload,
  • colleagues driven from the profession,
  • damaging pension and pay legislation imposed. 


Continued public campaigning is essential but we will only win serious concessions when we show we are prepared to take serious action. 

We need clear campaign objectives, a calendar of ongoing action rather than isolated ‘protest’ strikes, firm workload action across schools.

If elected General Secretary, I pledge to:
  • encourage professional unity,
  • strengthen workplace organisation,
  • give members confidence to escalate action,
  • sharpen our media messages, explaining we act to defend education.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Gove's Free Schools fiasco exposes Tory free-market failure

Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove is an easy target for comedians. A tweet from David Schneider, “Free Schools to be renamed £400m From Budget For Other Kids Schools”, succinctly summed up the latest news. Unfortunately, Gove’s policies are no laughing matter.

Reports suggest that these millions are being diverted from the Basic Need budget, urgently needed by Local Authorities to provide additional school places, into his pet Free Schools project instead. 

‘Free Schools’ are newly-opened privatised academies ‘free’ of those cumbersome regulations like having to staff classes with qualified teachers and having to use recognised school buildings.

They are a key part of Gove’s ideological mission is to accelerate the break-up of state education, replacing locally accountable Local Authority schooling with privatised academies. As with the rest of the public sector, education can then also become another avenue for big business to make money, especially if staff pay and pensions can be cut.

Gove appears to have an ideological belief that ‘the market works’. The history of privatised services, and the recent history of free schools, tells a different story. Several free schools have been hit by high-profile scandals over financial mismanagement and poor educational provision. One of the first to open, Discovery New School in Crawley, has already been forced to close. Yet £3 million was spent on this failed project. In Sweden, the policy has proved disastrous.

Altogether, 174 free schools have opened so far but many in areas where there is no pressing need for additional places left unfilled. However, in areas like London, where the place shortage is becoming critical, councils aren’t being allocated the ‘basic need’ funding they urgently require. £400m could help fund about 30,000 much needed places. 

Even if funding is allocated to Local Authorities, Gove has changed legislation to prevent them opening new community schools where they are needed. Instead, new places have to be provided by Free Schools.

Even the cross-party Public Accounts Committee has started to question Gove’s profligacy and both Labour and the LibDems have used the issue as an opportunity to knock Government policy. Unfortunately, while both parties might want to show their opposition as we approach a General Election, their education policies suggest that, if in office, they will follow a very similar path.

Instead of leaving school provision to a chaotic and inefficient free-for-all of private providers, elected Local Authorities should be given the job of planning and providing well-resourced and built new schools - and be given the investment needed so that they can do so.

The Free Schools fiasco exposes the madness of the free-market ideology that has taken over all our main political parties. Trade unions have a responsibility to lead a community struggle to defend public services and to win the resources needed to meet public needs.