The National Union of Teachers wants to express its unequivocal support for all local children, parents, teachers (at every level within schools) and governors who have been campaigning to defend education. We deplore the attack on both individuals and specific schools that have been made in some online reports recently. Responsible reporting should focus on the issues, not denigrate those seeking to stand up for our children. It’s wholly wrong to impugn the integrity of heads and teachers who are concerned about the devastating cuts their schools are facing.
For this and previous governments, and any of their representatives, to try to use ‘purdah’ rules to stop every publicly employed person from speaking out coming up to any election is not acceptable.
Everyone in education, the NHS and every other public-sector service would be silenced if some MPs had their way. The public is rejecting more and more the behind-the-scenes obstruction and intimidation that some MPs have resorted to, rather than the open and transparent engagement in public debate that we should expect from our representatives.
If governments do not want schools to be politicised then they must cease making politically-biased decisions about them: about their structures, about what is taught, about how it’s taught, about how assessments are undertaken and used, about how staff are paid and judged. Any campaigning by local groups or individuals has focussed on the acknowledged and very real damage done to our children by reducing the funds available to our schools and by squeezing the curriculum offer available. We can’t ignore these issues.
Many letters from schools in dozens of local authorities across the country were referred to in a recent national online newspaper report. The last sentence of the report should have been the first: “however, the institute for fiscal studies said rising student numbers and inflation would lead to real terms cuts.”
School leaders are just telling parents these facts. Speaking the truth should not be a crime.
S. Ud-din & S. Bedwell
Joint Division Secretaries, Lancashire NUT
Free Mental Health First Aid Training Course
Friday 16th and Saturday 17th June, 2017
The National Union of Teachers has great pleasure in inviting you, as an NUT headteacher, to our first accredited Mental Health First Aid two-day residential training course, which is taking place on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th June, 2017 at the Wrightington Hotel and Country Club, Wigan. This course is entirely free for NUT headteachers and includes all training materials, accommodation, meals and use of the hotel’s leisure facilities.
The course is divided into four sessions:
Mental Health First Aid, mental health and depression
Depression (continued) and suicidal crisis
Anxiety, personality disorders, eating disorders and self-harm
Psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
It is hoped that these sessions will give a deeper understanding of the issues that impact on, and relate to, people’s mental health as well as teach practical skills that can be used every day, including being able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and feel confident guiding people towards appropriate support.
Every course participant will receive a copy of the Mental Health First Aid England manual and workbook, both of which are excellent resources. On completion of the course, participants will also receive a certificate to confirm that they are a trained Mental Health First Aider.
We have chosen the Wrightington Hotel and Country Club to try to promote your mental wellbeing whilst on the course. The leisure facilities available at the hotel include a swimming pool, steam room, spa pool, gymnasium and virtual indoor cycling, all of which are available for you to use during your free time over the two day course.
Click here to book your place.
The 15 available places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Amendment 12.3 (motion 12 was on education funding), moved by Sam Ud-din and seconded by Siobhan Collingwood. The amendment starts at 31 minutes.
A free bus will be running from East Lancashire, leaving from Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School at 9.15am. Seats are limited – please contact Sarah Bedwell on 07736 151235 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book places.
The final day of #NUT17 started with the continuation of the Employment Conditions and Rights section. The following motions were passed:
All of these motions provide the national executive with clear policy for providing support for teachers on a range of issues. Stress and workload are key issues that members deal with, and contribute significantly to the retention crisis. Motion 21 includes instructions around PPA, class sizes, limits on directed time, national pay scales, pay progression and portability and a commitment to full application of the conditions outlined in both the Burgundy Book and the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document.
Following the conclusion of this section conference moved into unfinished business and back to Motion 38: Boycott Primary Testing. The specific wording of both the main motion and amendment 38.1 (amendment 38.2 was withdrawn) caused some contention amongst delegates, particularly given the successful completion of Motion 37 (Primary Assessment: A Broken System). Both the amendment and main motion were lost, although the voting results were quite close. Nevertheless, conference has given a clear direction of travel for the continuing campaign against primary testing and on balloting members for action over the KS2 SATs.
The next unfinished motion to be heard was Motion 52: Supply Teacher Representation. Whilst both the amendment and main motion were also lost, once again the commitment to supporting supply teachers in the unique issues that they face, particularly when it comes to pay and conditions, has been covered through Motion 20. The issue of representation for supply teachers on the national executive on the new union will continue to be a discussion point as negotiations go forward.
The final three motions to pass at #NUT17 were Motion 39: Early Years Funding; Motion 46: Prevent Strategy; and Motion 40: Nursery Schools and Threats to Early Years Education.
#NUT17 is the final annual conference to take place whilst the NUT is a standalone union. As well as this, it was also General Secretary Kevin Courtney’s first address to conference as GS – with the added news of the snap general election having broken less than an hour before Kevin took to the rostrum! You can watch his speech below.
That wraps up our #NUT17 coverage. Lancashire NUT will be organising rallies and street stalls across the division over the next few weeks and months as we continue to campaign on existing issues and those that will arise in the future. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details.
Day 4 of the conference started with a little more debate on Motion 38: Boycott Primary Testing. As there was only a short window of time to continue the previous section, whilst some progress was made it was again pushed back for later in the conference.
We then moved on to the Equalities section. The first motion, Motion 41: An All-Through LGBT+ Inclusive PSHE and SRE Curriculum sought to expand on the limited SRE curriculum being offered, and to ensure that it is inclusive for all pupils by including a focus on LGBT+ matters, and to continue supporting and promoting LGBT+ organisations and events such as Schools OUT and National LGBT History Month.
Motion 42 was the Black Teachers: Looking Back and Moving Forward motion. Conference heard from delegates such as Rochdale’s Niparun Nessa, who was consistently confused with the only other black teacher in her school, and from Sharon John, a primary teacher who was told by a governor at interview that the ‘school could do with a gospel choir’. The motion sought to reinstate a National Union Official with sole responsibility for race; to continue to coordinate with other unions, organisations and academics in order to dismantle racism, islamophobia, homophobia and other forms of hate in society; and to review decisions made at Black Teachers’ and Annual Conferences to ensure that actions not yet achieved are dealt with appropriately.
The next motion was Motion 43: Securing a Future for Disabled Teachers. Delegate Catherine Scarlett gave a very moving speech about how she was treated once she became disabled – including being told to get a catheter as the disabled toilets were up two flights of stairs, and that ‘if she was a horse, she’d be taken out the back and shot’. Amongst other things, the motion seeks to promote and celebrate disabled teachers to encourage diversity, and to ensure that adequate legal support is made available to disabled members, given the complex nature of discrimination law that often applies.
The TES published a good round up of the morning here.
The agenda was then suspended in order to debate the priority motion on devolution of pay and conditions in Wales, which was carried.
The motion on workload was completed, with a commitment to publicise the Action Short of Strike Action instructions to members once again, and for officers to identify employers, including academy chains and MATs, where taking action on workload (including possible industrial action) can and should be taken.
Motion 44: Racism and Migration was heard next. The motion dealt with not only the growing issue of racism faced by our students, staff and their families, but also support for migrant children. There was lengthy debate on this motion, not least due to the large number of amendments to the main motion. However, the motion (as amended) was carried. This means a commitment to:
There is clearly a lot more detail to the motion and amendments, which can be read from page 85 of the agenda, available here. Note that the motion was amended through amendments 44.1 and 44.3.
Motion 45: Supporting our Transgender Members and Students was next. This motion, which includes instructions to ensure that advice going out to regional offices, divisions and associations is clear about the right to self-identify as trans, and that appropriate training is provided for reps and officers, and to ensure that trans members are supported as and were appropriate.
We then broke away from the agenda to present the awards for Rep and Officer of the Year. Lancashire Division Secretary Sam Ud-din was named National Officer of the Year.
“The national award for Officer of the Year is in recognition of Sam Ud-din, who, in the nomination papers, is described as “well respected” and a familiar voice on local radio. He is also commended for encouraging members to become more active in the Union.”
Congratulations also to National Rep of the Year, Sefton NUT’s Roz Morton on her award, and to Rochdale’s Niparun Nessa on being awarded the Steve Sinnott Award. It’s been a good year for members in the North West!
During the afternoon session we also heard motions on protecting the lay-led status of our union, as well as on pay. The union will seek to continue to campaign for fair pay for all teachers, and to campaign against unfair pay policies in schools and academy trusts.
We also heard motions on the disgraceful pay and conditions that supply teachers face. The agency rip off for supply teachers mean that schools pay exorbitant fees to get supply teachers in, but that money doesn’t make it to the teachers themselves. Supply members reported being paid as little as £60 per day – a completely unaffordable and unsustainable system that requires urgent action. Unfortunately Motion 51: Supply Teacher Representation, has gone to unfinished business as we ran out of time.
The fourth session of #NUT17 started with a motion on sixth form funding. Delegates spoke of increased class sizes; lack of support for students, particularly around pastoral and mental health care; a reduction in the number of courses offered; and something of a mercenary approach to offering places to potential students, in that in some colleges places are only being offered to students who could be ‘guaranteed’ to pass. Sixth form funding is being impacted by mergers and academisation as well as slashed spending by the government, leading to concerns about the disappearance of colleges altogether.
Following this was Motion 35: A Curriculum For All. This motion is based on concerns about the impact of the EBacc programme in secondary schools, and the resulting restriction of the curriculum being offered to students. Not only are some students being forced into taking subjects that they have no interest in or need for, thereby restricting their options in post-16 education, but it’s leading to a narrowed curriculum where many options subjects, particularly creative subjects, are being forced out.
Next up was a motion on class sizes in special schools. As in mainstream schools, funding cuts are impacting schools and services are being cut. This is a crucial issue in special schools as specialist support for students with special educational needs is simply unable to be provided. The motion sought, amongst other things for class size limits of 12 where pupils have moderate learning difficulties, 9 where pupils have severe learning difficulties and a ratio of 3:1 students to staff in Alternate Provision.
The conference then heard from Professor Howard Stevenson. A former NUT school representative, Professor Stevenson is currently working at the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. He spoke about the government having abandoned teaching as a long-term, sustainable career, as well as the need to break down the exam factories that schools are currently acting as.
We then moved onto the first of two Primary motions, Motion 37: Primary Assessment – A Broken System. Many delegates spoke passionately about the impact that the testing regime has on students. Lancaster, Morecambe and District headteacher Siobhan Collingwood and member Jessica Christie moved and seconded amendment 37.1, and gave speeches which highlighted the mental health issues that students in primary schools face because of the summative assessments including the SATs and phonics tests.
The amended motion includes:
Motion 38, the motion to boycott primary testing, was moved at this point but not finished. We will go back to it later in the conference.