Thursday 23 October 2014

Workload - NUT demands real change

The NUT Executive met this afternoon to discuss and reflect on the results of the Union's consultative ballot and the initiatives now being announced by Nicky Morgan around the 'Workload Challenge'.

The 98% YES for continuing the Stand Up For Education Campaign and 80% in favour of further strike action announced at the Executive confirm the continued membership support for continued action to win real gains on workload, pay and pensions.

The fact that politicians are having to recognise that teacher workload has to be addressed is a real step forward. However, as the Report presented to the meeting stated, "whilst celebrating the successes of our campaign we must be realistic about the lack of change so far for teachers in schools. There must be urgent action on teacher workload, on the unfair pay system and the unfair pension changes ... However the movements by the DFE and the  support for our manifesto do open real opportunties of which we must take advantage". 

The strategy agreed was to draw up plans for up to two days of strike action in the spring term. Until then, we continue the talks to give Nicky Morgan and the DFE the chance to prove that their fine words will be backed up by real change. At the same time, however, where schools are imposing excessive demands or threatening denial of pay progression, the Union isn't just waiting for national negotiations. We are encouraging schools to use our ongoing ballot to take action, escalating to sustained strike action, to oppose such attacks.

But what changes would we prepared to settle for? I have argued over years that the Union must demand that Government act on workload - and that we must make clear  demands that we can mobilise members around.

Importantly, the Executive were presented with a draft Action Programme to reduce excessive teacher workload setting out possible demands to put to Nicky Morgan over replacing Ofsted/Estyn, stopping excessive marking and planning demands, ending performance-pay on the mainscale, and winning binding work-life balance policies and a limit on working hours.

However, getting these demands right is key. We have an opportunity to win real change - but we mustn't waste this chance and settle for too little, simply to declare 'victory'.

That's why I was pleased that it was agreed that the Executive takes views on the draft Action Programme and finalises it when we meet again on November 6th.

Update: I have uploaded the draft programme onto so you can have a look for yourself - comments and feedback welcome (and there's already a few amendments that I want to suggest myself ...)

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