Thursday 6 June 2013

NUT National Executive Report – June 2013

A pdf copy of this Report can be downloaded from:

Notice served on employers for regional strike in North-West on June 27

The NUT and NASUWT’s calendar of joint strike action is firmly underway. Both unions have served notice to employers across twenty-two Local Authorities in the North-West of England - 2765 schools and colleges in total - that their members are being called upon to take region-wide strike action on 27 June. With Gove and the Coalition threatening pensions, pay and conditions – that’s both teachers’ working conditions and children’s learning conditions – then we have no choice but to take firm and ongoing strike action.

The rolling programme of regional strike action will continue after the summer in other parts of England and Wales and then build to a joint national strike in November. More action will need to follow in 2014 if Gove and Co. refuse to retreat.

Rallies will be taking place in Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Chester on June 27.Messages of support will be coming in from across the country from other regions, many of whom are setting up twinning arrangements to help offer encouragement to members in the North-West.

A National Union leaflet has also been produced to explain our campaign in defence of education to parents and the public. A number of London NUT Associations are using this on campaign stalls on Saturday 8 June in the build-up to our own London NUT Regional march and rally on Tuesday 25 June.

Unions also battling to win acceptable School Pay Policies

Alongside our regional and national action to reverse Gove’s attacks, local officers and school reps also need to work hard to persuade Governors to adopt pay policies that protect teachers and education from the damage that performance-pay will inflict on schools.

The joint NUT / NASUWT model policy offers employers an opportunity to maintain a clear and supportive policy that avoids much of the demoralising and divisive threats that Gove wants schools to adopt. Some Local Authorities are already adopting policies in line with the NASUWT/NUT model.

Unfortunately, the model policy issued by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) lacks some important protections. For example, it does not guarantee to honour the previous salary point of teachers moving from different schools and, worse of all, proposes significant barriers be put in the way of teachers hoping to progress up both the main and upper pay ranges. It is a pity that, at the same time as the NAHT have rightly criticised Gove and are also discussing affiliating to the TUC, this kind of advice has been issued, no doubt through fear of Ofsted being used to threaten Heads who dare to stand up to Gove’s dictats. The answer, however, is to make a united stand together against this kind of bullying. For more guidance on the NAHT policy, see the NUT national website on:

If schools or Local Authorities seek to impose unacceptable policies then the NUT can escalate to school-based strike action, with strike pay, under our existing action ballot. That may need to include rolling action in schools across a Local Authority in order to make sure that Councils rethink damaging proposals.

Gove is after your holidays too

See more detailed report on:

Gove doesn’t just want to attack pay and pensions. He has also asked the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) to make recommendations on changing our working conditions too. These could include attacks on workload protections such as guaranteed PPA and limits on cover as well as threats to further increase working hours and shorten school holidays.

The STRB is due to make its Final Report by January 2014 - in time, if Gove thinks he can get away with it, to impose attacks on our conditions by September 2014. That’s yet another good reason for the NUT and NASUWT to continue our programme of strike action into 2013 – and onwards in 2014!

Towards a ‘Royal College of Teaching’?

See more detailed report on:

In the last few weeks, a series of press articles have highlighted Government-backed moves towards setting up some kind of ‘Royal College of Teaching’. Having a professional body that, unlike this Government, supported teachers’ professional development and promoted genuine educational research, rather than ignoring it, could be useful. However, from the details we have seen, it seems likely that the plans that will be announced will recommend an exclusive College of Teaching only for a select few teachers - in line with this Government’s destructive agenda of denigrating the teaching profession as a whole.

Opposing Racism

In the full Executive, I was able to report on the united response from the communities of Woolwich and Lewisham to the attempts by the BNP and EDL to try and divide us after the horrific murder of soldier Lee Rigby. However, in light of the suspected arson attack on the Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, the dangers of racist division are still clearly very present. The materials produced by Show Racism the Red Card were recommended for use by teachers in schools: see:

Of course, one of the best ways to show young people why it is in all of our interests to unite together to defend jobs, services and conditions is for the trade union movement to show that through united co-ordinated strike action we can force the Government to think again about its attacks.

NUT Declaration for Education in London

This declaration, previously discussed at the London Working Group at the May meeting of the Executive, was agreed as National NUT policy. As well as setting out ways to support teaching and schools in London, the declaration also stresses the urgent need for Government to provide the funding required to meet the critical shortage of school places in the capital. A separate paper on the School Places crisis points out that “free schools represent an ineffective way to respond to pupil number growth, which should instead be addressed by means of rational planning involving local authorities”.

Figures for predicted pupil place shortfalls in London Authorities by 2016-17 show the staggering extent of the problem, a gathering scandal that Gove, Cameron and Mayor Boris Johnson are failing to address. Newham faces a shortfall of over 23% of pupil places (primary and secondary combined). The next worst-hit boroughs are Waltham Forest (20%), Croydon (20%), Redbridge (19%) and Barking & Dagenham (19%).

The paper also points out that the pupil place shortfall must not be met by simply increasing class sizes. During the Executive, the welcome news came through that the planned Government changes to the maximum ratio of children to carers in Nursery and Early Years settings was being reversed. This is a welcome retreat from Government, hopefully to be followed by many more!

Curriculum Issues

The National Executive agreed a response that sets out the NUT’s opposition to the removal of the speaking and listening assessment from GCSE English, a move that will have the effect of downgrading the importance of speaking and listening in comparison to reading and writing.

NUT support for a further statement calling on the Government to listen to teachers and academics and delay the proposed statutory implementation of the new National Curriculum was also agreed.

New Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s criticism of Michael Gove’s ‘snobby’ views on children’s literature was also welcomed. A Daily Mail article quotes her as believing that “Mr. Gove was in danger of reducing teachers to a ‘delivery mechanism’ to get children through tests rather than teaching them to think for themselves” and quotes her stating on Radio 4 that “I do not know whether he trusts teachers or not but the perception is that he does not listen. If we are not careful we are in danger of losing our very best teachers”.

Support for Turkish Trade Unionists

I also spoke at the Executive to thank Christine Blower for confirming that a message of support has been sent to Turkish trade unions KESK and Egitim-Sen, who have been taking strike action in protest at Government repression of protests in Istanbul, Ankara and many other cities, repression that, regrettably, imprisoned trade unionists in Turkey are only too well aware of.

School Direct

From September, the Government are rolling out their next ‘train-on-the-job’ training scheme, ‘School Direct’, replacing the previous GTP scheme. Graduates will be employed to teach classes while they supposedly receive in-school training at the same time. Some will receive payment for their work, but there is also a non-salaried School Direct programme as well.

Unfortunately, some School Direct trainees will struggle under the pressure of working in the stressful environment of a school without proper support and training. If they are not careful, schools will be happy to ‘fail’ them at the end of the year, then replace them with another cohort of cheap labour. The NUT will be asking school reps to make a particular effort to recruit School Direct staff both to give them the support of a trade union and to involve them in our campaigns to ensure teachers are properly trained and paid for the work that we do.

Nominations for NUT National Vice-President

A number of other National Executive colleagues wished me well for my campaign, as agreed by LANAC, the Local Associations National Action Campaign, to seek nominations to stand in next term’s election for National NUT Vice-President. Barnsley NUT have already agreed my nomination and I was able to confirm invitations to speak at meetings of a number of other NUT Associations , including visits to both Cheshire West & Chester and Bolton later this term.

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