Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Saturday 29 September 2007

Striking a chord in Liverpool

Striking a chord in Liverpool

One of the liveliest hustings meetings held so far took place in the Liner Hotel in Liverpool on Wednesday September 26th. Members of the Liverpool and Wirral NUT Associations met to listen to speeches, and ask questions, from the three candidates that had agreed to attend - Martin Powell-Davies, Roger King and Hank Roberts.

The tone of the debate was friendly but clearly brought out the different approaches between the candidates. Martin and Roger explained how a majority of the present NUT National Executive could not be relied on to vote for the action needed to defend teachers and education.

Martin’s call for the Union to enact the national ballot on pay alongside UNISON for joint action this November struck a chord. An emergency motion supporting this approach, moved by National Executive member Julie Lyon-Taylor, was later passed by the meeting. Both Julie and Robin Pye, St. Helen’s NUT Secretary, were also nominated for next year’s new elections for the NUT National Executive.

Unfortunately, there were not enough Wirral members attending to make any formal decisions, but the Liverpool Association voted overwhelmingly to nominate Martin Powell-Davies and Roger King. Martin thanked those attending for their support and urged them to take news from the meeting back to their schools and to urge colleagues to vote for change in the NUT when the election starts at the end of October.

Elsewhere, Martin was also nominated by the West Cheshire NUT Association.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

West Sussex nominate Martin and Hank

West Sussex Teachers Association have nominated Martin and Hank as vice presidents. The WSTA is fairly evenly divided on the pay campaign but members saw it as a debate on when rather than whether to take action and Martin and indeed Hank were seen as people who would fight their corner.

The vote was unanimous and a number of supply teachers who don't generally attend meetings were there. They wanted action over the appalling treatment of supply teachers and are becoming increasingly involved in the union as a result.

Alison's letter was reproduced as a leaflet for the meeting.

Monday 24 September 2007

Academies – exam shortcuts damage education

Academies – exam shortcuts damage education

May teachers already know that there is a big difference between the spin in favour of Academies and educational reality. But some new facts revealed at the Anti-Academies Alliance Steering Committee meeting in London on Saturday appalled a secondary science teacher like myself.

Roger Titcombe, a retired Headteacher who has been doggedly researching the actual exam performance of Academies, revealed graphs showing how many supposedly “successful” schools were simply playing the system to boost their 5 A*-C pass rate.

The news that many schools have used GNVQs to boost their league table scores will be of little surprise but Roger’s revelation that science education was particularly vulnerable in these supposedly “most improved” schools may be news to many of us. His figures suggested that, while concentrating on the English and Maths needed for the new exam statistics, science was being pushed aside in some schools. Results in one Academy showed a third of the pupils that has been entered for double award science doing so badly that their results were ungraded and none at all obtaining an A*-C grade.

There was a good turnout to the Steering Committee. We exchanged reports from campaigns across the country. Romayne Phoenix, a Green Party councillor, and I attended from Defend Education In Lewisham. Plans were made for further campaigning, including co-ordinated days of action to highlight how Academies are undermining comprehensive education.

Martin Powell-Davies

Sunday 23 September 2007

IPSWICH: Martin wins further support

Ipswich Association nominated Martin Powell-Davies for the Vice President position at our General Meeting on Thursday 20th September.

Roger King, Martin Powell-Davies, Gill Goodswen and Hank Roberts were all put forward for consideration. Everyone at the meeting agreed that Martin's visit to the Association a few years ago had left a good impression and those who had been to conferences knew well exactly what Martin stood for !

Hank’s role in the Wembley anti-Academy occupation was acknowledged, but there was some uncertainty with regards to his stance on other issues. There were also doubts about nominating a headteacher, Gill Goodswen, as President.

We concluded by unanimously agreeing to nominate Martin Powell-Davies and Roger King.

The meeting also passed a motion calling for an immediate ballot on pay and united action with other public sector trade unions.

Roger Mackay, Ipswich NUT

Thursday 20 September 2007


Martin drove south to speak at NUT meetings in both Lewes and Brighton on Tuesday September 18th and came away with two further nominations from these NUT Associations.

Martin pointed to the stories posted on the National Union’s website from teachers already struggling to pay their bills. One had calculated that their heavy workload and low salary translated into an hourly rate of less than £5. Another pointed out how teachers tell their students to work hard to get a university degree so that they can get better paid – then find that their own experience makes them wonder whether it was worth it! No wonder so many teachers were leaving the profession – especially in the South-East where the cost of housing was so high.

But he particularly pointed to the comments posted by a Surrey teacher: “It's time the NUT joined with other unions and called for more serious action to raise teacher's pay - not just petitioning the government or doing a paper vote, we need strike action to be effective or more effective campaigning. If you don't show power in numbers, then it is pointless and the government will just ignore campaigns. Then the Unions will lose support of members who will feel they are not doing their job and our hard earned, and ill afforded subscriptions, paid to date would have been wasted. Please, please do something soon before I am forced to leave teaching due to financial reasons”.

That viewpoint would be echoed by many frustrated NUT members. We had promised to ballot on pay – so what were we waiting for?

Martin’s message that the Union had to show its members that it was serious - by organising firm national action - struck a chord with the classroom teachers present and helped win him two further nominations.


Lewisham NUT’s September General Meeting unanimously agreed a motion drafted by Martin Powell-Davies calling on the NUT’s National Executive to seize the time and vote to launch a national ballot for strike action.
As Martin and other teachers pointed out, the TUC had agreed that unions should be co-ordinating action over pay. With UNISON now preparing to ballot their members for action in November, the NUT now has a golden opportunity to turn that policy into action with co-ordinated ballots by NUT teachers and UNISON school support staff. Civil servants in the PCS are looking to ballot too.
The next timetabled meeting of the NUT National Executive is on October 4th although a request for an earlier Special Meeting of the NUT Executive has also been submitted by members supporting the call for action.
Martin Powell-Davies is urging NUT members to call on the Executive to meet and launch the national ballot agreed at Annual Conference without delay.
The motion agreed in Lewisham was as follows:
Lewisham NUT restates its determination to build the Union’s campaign to oppose both the failure to honour the ‘pay trigger’ over our below-inflation awards for 2006 and 2007 and the threat of just 2% awards for 2008-11.
We welcome the fact that the Executive has agreed to ballot members for national action this term but believe that it is now time to carry out such a ballot, for discontinuous national action, without delay. This would send a clear message to the Review Body of the Union’s determination, and allow us to prepare to take co-ordinated action alongside colleagues in other unions.
We are encouraged by the action taken by civil servants, postal workers and prison officers already this year and the proposal by UNISON to ballot their Local Government workers for national action. We believe that united action by teachers and support staff, co-ordinated with other trade unionists where possible, would raise the confidence of trade unionists and apply pressure to the Government to think again over public sector pay.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Brent NUT nomination

Martin was nominated tonight by Brent NUT, together with Hank Roberts, the Brent NUT Secretary, who had already won the backing of his Association.

The meeting was held at Wembley Park Sports Ground where Hank and other 'Tent City' campaigners have been protesting against the threat to build an Academy on the site.

Not surprisingly, the need for the Union to fight the threat of privatisation and the break-up of state education was an important focus of discussion. Other questions centred on the pay dispute with Martin urging the Union to launch the promised ballot for national action without delay.

Wednesday 5 September 2007



Teachers will have come back to school clinging on to their memories of a summer break when we can remember what it’s like to forget about the stress of the classroom for a week or two.

Those of us who are trade unionists will also have been left smiling by the pictures of prison officers being led into action by their union leaders – despite the Government trying to make their action unlawful. But more than a few NUT members will also have been thinking – “when are we taking the action agreed at Easter’s Annual Conference on pay?”

July’s NUT Executive again put off any firm decision and so there’s no firm news that we can yet give our members. However, Steve Sinnott’s preference is to wait until the Government respond to whatever the Review Body’s recommends in November. That would leave January 2008 as the earliest likely date for any national action – a plan that – whatever its intention - seems designed to lose the momentum that has been built up.

However, I was called today by a member of UNISON’s National Executive to be given the encouraging news that, despite the opposition from some of their leadership, their national council has voted to ballot their Local Government members to oppose the shoddy salary deal that their members are being offered.

If their plans go ahead, this could see school support staff – and other local council colleagues – balloting for a possible strike in mid-November. Surely the NUT can’t stand aside and leave teachers facing UNISON picket-lines instead of balloting too?

Now’s the time to announce that the NUT will be balloting too, sending a warning shot to both Ministers and the Review Body, and approaching other unions to join in a solid public sector action to show Gordon Brown that we aren’t putting up with “2%” !

Martin Powell-Davies September 4th 2007