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

Thursday 28 February 2013

UPS teachers - move school and see pay cut by £10,000

Discussions at the NUT National Executive over the last two days have confirmed that, from September 2013 onwards, with the abandonment of 'portability' of pay points from one school to the next, Upper Pay Spine teachers would have no guarantee of keeping that Upper Pay Spine status when they move to a new school.

Yes, not only might a UPS3 teacher be forced down to the bottom of the UPS, they might be forced all the way down to the Main Scale in a 'race to the bottom' to compete with other applicants for the lower pay-rate that a cash-strapped school might only be prepared to offer.

That means that a teacher resigning to take a new post this Christmas could be facing a pay cut of around £10,000 - depending on the decision taken by their new employer. For example, a UPS3 teacher in Inner London - earning £45,000 could be demoted to M6, the top of the Main Scale - and be paid only £36,387 - but they might even have to accept less than that!

This threat is spelt out in the wording of the new Draft Pay and Conditions Document which makes crystal clear that:

20.1 Any qualified teacher may apply to be paid on the upper pay range.

but that

20.5 Any decision made under paragraph 20 applies only to employment in that same school

This is yet another reason why teachers need to be taking strike action to oppose these attacks. That's also why teachers gathered outside NUT HQ, Hamilton House, in Euston last night to talk to National Executive members and to encourage them to vote for a programme of strike action to oppose Gove's performance-pay proposals. Delegated teachers came from as far as Bristol and Liverpool with their NUT Association banners.

The decisions reached by the NUT Executive at today's meeting are, at present, subject to an embargo. Look out for further news.

Using Ofsted to bully schools into docking pay

A new letter from Sir Michael Wilshaw to Headteachers, backed up by Ofsted’s January 2013 ‘Subsidiary guidance’ to schools, makes crystal clear how the inspection regime will be used to bully Heads into rationing teachers’ pay progression under Gove’s new performance-pay proposals. It also shows how it will be used to set teacher against teacher, key stage against key stage, department against department.

Wilshaw advises headteachers that “in future, inspectors will ask schools for anonymised information from the last three years, which shows the proportions of teachers who have:
  • progressed along the main pay scale
  • progressed to, and through, the upper pay scale
  • progressed along the leadership scale
  • received additional responsibility payments, such as teaching and learning responsibility payments and special needs allowances.
The information provided should include information about patterns of progression through the different salary scale points, and comparisons between subject departments and/or teachers deployed in different key stages.
  • ask the headteacher about the proportion of teaching staff that has passed through to the upper pay spine
  • compare this with the overall quality of teaching 
  • find out whether there is a correlation between the two, and if there is none, find out why, taking into account the length of time the headteacher has been in post.
Examples of the information headteachers could provide include:
  • the proportion of staff that progressed through thresholds this year/last year
  • the proportion that did not progress through thresholds this year/last year
  • a table showing for each salary point, the number of staff, points they have moved from, and the number that met their performance management objectives
  • performance management information the school provides to governors
  • any other relevant information with regard to the performance management process.

Monday 25 February 2013

Back to the future with Gradgrind Gove

While searching through old files of my campaign materials from School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay, I came across an article written by Simon Jenkins in the Times in 2000.

I wouldn’t agree with everything he had to say – then or now – but his identification of payment-by-results with Gradgrind-style drudgery still rings true today.

Here are some extracts:
The 3 Rs: ratings, regulation and rigidity 

 “Is teaching a profession, or is it skilled manual work? Is its essence a relationship of trust between teacher and taught? Or is it quantifiable output? Is it a vocation, or just a job?

Charles Dickens knew the difference. Dickens saw ``a board of fact, composed of commissioners of fact, who will force the people to be a people of fact.'' Teachers would be paid by how far they could fill their ``little pitchers'' with facts. There was no money for imagination, or sunshine.

Teacher union conferences are horrific. But on one thing the teachers are at present right. It is outrageous to link their salaries in any way to the ability or ``exam output'' of the pupils in their care.

The bureaucracy to calculate this will be awesome. Worse, it must strain the relationship between teacher and child. It declares that what is important in that relationship is what is measurable, and that such measurement should be the basis of pecuniary reward. It puts a teacher's ``uplift'' of some £2,000 a year at risk from the failure of a child. This is professionally obscene.

The quantification of education in all 40,000 schools in England and Wales so that ministers can run them direct from Whitehall is now a fanatical, raging, catch-all obsession. It runs from tests for seven-year-olds to the scoring of ``outputs'' by senior scholars.

Mr Blunkett has continued where the tories began.

Dickens would not need to invent Coketown's ``Philosopher of Fact'': could list Mr Blunkett's weekly vanload of key stages, circulars and regulations. The millennium of commissioners has come with the millennium. Teaching in Britain already has a sufficient measure of performance-related pay.

Unlike lecturing or medicine or the Civil Service, the profession offers a range of institutional choice and thus of career opportunity. Mobility up and across the profession is easy. Good teachers can win promotion without leaving the classroom. A competent head teacher can juggle his or her staff to reward loyalty and retain ability. Extra duties are remunerated. The system can respond to a school's needs, as determined by heads and governors, without recourse to Whitehall's asinine rigidities.

A public servant is paid (by you and me) a salary and pension to work to the best of his or her ability. Bad teachers should go, on that we can agree, but good ones should not need a piecework incentive to work hard. We do not pay doctors according to mortality or longevity rates. We do not pay soldiers by the number of enemy dead.

Mr Blunkett's officials are not paid (yet) by the media column inches they win him each day.

Policemen are not paid for the number of criminals caught nor prison governors on the recidivism of their charges. Some lawyers are being paid by results, which is deplorable, but at least it does not impact on children or the poor.

That teachers should require a financial incentive to ``display professional characteristics'' or help their pupils to pass exams imputes to them the most cynical of motives. It also imposes a huge strain on those who should bear it least, those children and parents whose circumstances suggest that they do poorly in exams.

We have been here before. In the 1830s and 1840s, English education was likewise ``reformed'' by centralisation.

Even the fiercely libertarian Victorians found themselves sucked into prescribed curricula, regimented teacher training and, after a commission in 1861, payment-by-results. It seemed the only way they could keep control.

Centralisation lasted until the 1870 Act and the election of local school boards. Payment-by-results, enforced by armies of hated inspectors, was educationally arid, and regarded as cruel to teachers and pupils alike. It collapsed.

That payment-by-results should ensue under the present de facto renationalisation of schools may be grimly inevitable, but it beggars belief. History repeats itself as tragedy and farce at one go. But who will save education from this fiasco? That is the real irony. It will be lawyers paid by results.

The first children who fail an exam, or who sicken or die under the stress of payment-by-results will bring the mother of all parental class actions against Mr Blunkett's department. They deserve to win.

The Times, London

The full article (although I have a slightly different text in the version in my files) can still be found on:

Friday 22 February 2013

NUT Executive by-election: Victory for candidate calling for national strike action

The victory of Peter Glover from Liverpool NUT in the by-election for the vacant seat on the NUT National Executive for Cheshire and Merseyside is a clear victory for the left in the NUT and for all those who have been calling for urgent action to defeat Gove’s attacks on pay.

The Merseyside and Cheshire electoral district covers both rural and metropolitan areas and has usually elected one candidate from the ‘right’ and one from the ‘left’ for its two seats on the NUT Executive. This by-election was, therefore, a clear test of the mood of NUT members – whether to support those like Peter calling for national strike action or to back Beth Purnell (Warrington NUT), the candidate backed by the Union’s right, urging caution and for “a reasoned voice”.

The result was clear. Peter Glover, along with Greg Foster (Cheshire West and Chester NUT), both supporters of LANAC, the Local Associations National Action Campaign, got a combined first-preference vote of 67 % (Glover 724 votes, Foster 362 votes) compared to 33 % ( 539 votes ) for Beth Purnell. After the exclusion of Greg Foster under the transferable vote operating in NUT elections, Peter Glover was the clear winner.

As Peter says, “this election was like a mini-referendum on the strategy to defeat Gove. Beth Purnell’s campaign issued glossy leaflets to every school selling her as the ‘moderate sensible candidate’. Yet, without the same resources, I won with one of the largest ever left votes in the district. As one colleague explained who had decided to back me, ‘you were the candidate offering a strategy to win’. Perhaps now, those on the Executive who have been wavering in their support for action will recognise the real mood of anger in our schools and back the program of national strike action we need”.

Beth Purnell’s materials were a thinly-disguised attack on her opponents, warning that ‘the balance of influence on the Union Executive could easily swing against the best interests of the Union and its members’ and that “now is not the time to react with knee-jerk policies, nor is it the time for the NUT to act alone. We need a sensible long-term strategy, working with other teaching unions”. 

In turn, Peter also made clear what was at stake. His leaflet explained that “This by-election is vital. It is your chance to send a clear message to your Union. No more half-measures and indecision. I need your vote so I can make sure our Executive fights as hard to save our profession as we have to in the classroom”.

Peter got those votes – and the clear message has been sent right across the National Union of Teachers.

Monday 11 February 2013

Strike to stop PRP - how can we afford not to?

You’ve already lost out through below-inflation pay increases …
You’re about to lose again when pension costs go up again in April …
But, from September, Gove’s performance-pay robbery would mean that
schools have the power to block annual pay progression - not just on UPS but on the mainscale. Being held back for just one year could cost you £10,000, but, as the chart above shows, if you’re blocked two or three times you could be losing a whole lot more!

PERFORMANCE-PAY:  Leaving teachers worse-off
If Gove gets away with his performance-pay plans, your income could soon depend on arbitrary judgements about your lessons or on pupil progress scores that can depend on so many factors outside your control. If your school is facing a tight budget or if you don’t get on with your management, expect the worst.

PERFORMANCE-PAY:  Leaving schools worse-off
‘Payment-by-results’ will set teacher against teacher, cutting across the teamwork that good schools rely upon. It will divide and demoralise, forcing teachers into ‘teaching-to-the-test’ instead of making sure that children enjoy their learning.  Just like in the NHS, a target-driven culture will undermine good education.

PERFORMANCE-PAY:  Leaving privatisers better-off
A secret memo leaked by the Independent confirms Gove’s plans to make “All academies and free schools … free to become profit-making for the first time.” If big business wants to make a profit out of schools, it needs to cut the main budget heading - the salary bill. Performance-pay is there to help these privatisers. 

… how can we afford not to ?

Sunday 10 February 2013

Strike to stop performance-pay - and help stop privatisation too

From the Dec 8 LANAC PowerPoint - download from

This morning's news of a 'secret memo' revealing the "full extent of Michael Gove's plans to revolutionise education" will come as no real surprise to teacher trade unionists.  However, this timely reminder that Gove's real agenda is for full privatisation of academies, allowing big business to make profits out of school budgets, is a key message that also needs to be publicised as part of our campaign against performance-pay.

As we have said from the very start, Gove's performance-pay plans are about cutting costs to help his privatising friends. If big business wants to make a profit out of schools, it needs to cut the main budget heading - the salary bill.

So Gove's performance-pay proposals are another step along the route towards school privatisation - with the added bonus that he hopes PRP will divide the workforce and undermine collective trade union action too. 

The NUT needs to make clear to parents how the PRP campaign and anti-academy campaigns are so closely linked. A strike against PRP is also a strike to help stop privatisation - both part of a battle to defend education.

The Mid-Staffs hospital scandal is also a stark reminder of what can happen to public services when they are dominated by targets. That same culture is already gripping education - and PRP will make it even worse.

But time is running short to stop Gove's pay proposals becoming implemented.  Agreement across London Region NUT for a demonstration against Gove on Wednesday March 13 is a good way of mobilising for national strike action - but when will that national action be called?
March 13 could, and should, have been the first day for a national strike - but that was narrowly rejected at the last meeting of the NUT Executive. 

Rather than retreat again, the next National Executive meeting on February 28th needs to correct its mistake and call a first day of national strike on Wednesday March 20. That should be followed by further national action early next term. Calling a two-day strike on April 30 and May 1st - May Day - would show teachers and Gove that we are serious about stopping these disastrous PRP plans.

That's why Warwickshire NUT and Liverpool NUT have added their names to the list of London Associations who are not only building for the March 13 demonstration but who are also building for a Lobby of the NUT Executive on February 27th as well.

Those Lobbyists will be trying to get the message across to National Executive members that we need to announce our plan of national strike action as soon as possible - and starting this term - so that teachers can start to budget ahead for loss of pay and so that Local NUT Associations can spread publicity and build hardship funds and so schools can alert parents and students, especially those preparing for exams.

We're battling for the future of education - we can't afford to hesitate any longer!

News of Gove's academy plan can be read via this link:

... and in further bad news for Gove, with evidence that the bullying culture that is gripping education starts at the very top, a Guardian article alleges that Gove may have misled Parliament over a bullying complaint at the Department of Education:

Wednesday 6 February 2013

EBacc - Gove forced to retreat !

Breaking news from:

"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, will announce a major climbdown over his controversial plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of a new English Baccalaureate. In a surprise statement in the Commons, Mr Gove will reveal that he is abandoning plans to introduce the new qualification in 2015".

"GCSEs will remain, although they will be reformed in an attempt to restore confidence in them as an internationally respected qualification"

"The U-turn represents a political defeat for a minister seen by some Tory MPs as a potential successor to David Cameron".

This is an important setback for Gove and his plans to wreck education - now we must press ahead with strike action to force him back on performance-pay too !

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Lewisham teachers call for strike action this term

By a unanimous vote, NUT members at last night's Lewisham NUT's General Meeting voted to call on the NUT National Executive to urgently call strike action, starting on March 20th.

The new poster from the National Union stating that "Michael Gove must understand that unless his onslaught ... stops, then strike action was inevitable" was seen as a step forward. However, that strike action needed to be called without further delay!

The text of the motion that was agreed was drafted during the discussion so that points could be added by the members present to make sure it fully reflected the views of the meeting.

This is what was unanimously agreed to be sent to the NUT National Executive:

1. This meeting is very angry that the NUT National Executive has failed to call strike action to oppose the most serious attack on our pay, terms and conditions of service that has occurred in the lifetime of current NUT members.

2. This meeting is very angry that the NUT National Executive has failed to show strong and decisive leadership in organising a strong campaign with the will to win to oppose the attack on our pay, terms and conditions of service.

3. This meeting calls on the NUT National Executive to organise strike action, commencing on 20th March 2013.

4. This meeting is very unhappy with the paucity of briefing materials that have been circulated to members by the NUT Communications Department concerning the threatened changes to pay and conditions of service and the timetable of that legislation.

5. This Association fully supports the Lobby of the Executive on February 27th and the Lobby of the Department of Education on March 13th