Sunday, 30 March 2014

National Executive: NUT Celebrates Successful Strike Day

At Thursday's NUT National Executive, Christine Blower (General Secretary) reported on the March 26th strike day, which went incredibly well.  Our national public and media presence was very strong, in particular Kevin's interview with Sky News where he points out that ministers have failed to engage with talks to resolve our dispute.  This led to a difficult interview for David Laws and the day continued to get better from there.



Turnout for the strike was excellent.  The Executive received positive reports from across the country of the action and, in particular, the public response.  Parents and members of the public joined teachers at rallies across the country and spoke about how much they support our campaign.  Local media was also very positive.  This seems to be a real shift into a broader campaign alongside the public.  I have considered some of the possible reasons for this in another post here.

Alex Kenny (London) reported a phone call and text from the police congratulating them on the demonstration and confirming that numbers were bigger than on joint strike in October.  London was full of people wearing the green Stand Up for Education T-Shirts with pride.  Alex was congratulated by the whole Executive for his work co-ordinating the excellent London demonstration, in particular the focus on the BBC which seems to have been one of a number of factors which forced a last-minute decision to give the strike full coverage.

However, there were worrying signs regarding OFSTED.  One strike delegation on the London demonstration got a text during the strike to say OFSTED was in the next day.  This also happened in Oxfordshire and other parts of the country.  The Executive sent a message of support to the teachers involved.  A letter has also been sent to OFSTED Head of Schools to outline the fear of OFSTED and how this has led to teachers being forced to break a strike which they completely support.  We will also be raising the fact that many schools would have had no-one in to receive such a call, especially where an NUT headteacher was on strike.

In addition to the successful strike day, the Pressuring the Politicians strand of our campaign is showing real results.  In particular, following lobbying by NUT members, Tory Vice-Chair Richard Harrington has written to Michael Gove expressing his concern about schools and colleges recruiting unqualified teachers.  This is a real blow to Michael Gove, especially as the letter was made public on the day of the strike.

Education Question Times continue to take place around the country as a positive way of engaging the public.  All the events which have taken place so far have been very successful and the Union has a blueprint now for organising an event in your area.  If you are interested, get in touch.

The Executive agreed the importance of continuing all three elements of our broad Stand Up for Education campaign and will meet this coming Thursday (3rd April) to agree the next steps.  Some of my thoughts on this are here.

Christine Blower (General Secretary) and Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secretary) attended the funerals of Bob Crow and Tony Benn and the Executive paid tribute to their contribution to building our movement.

The NUT continues to engage with the Compass Inquiry into Education.  This joint Inquiry looks at what education should look like in the 21st Century and has the potential to be a really positive contribution to the national debate on education.  However, the current draft reports still contain some significant issues which are being taken up with Neal Lawson

The day for NUT Learning Reps at Hamilton House went really well.  If you are interested in finding out more about this role, click here or get in touch.

The NUT / Curriculum Foundation resources for the Year of the Curriculum have been very well received so far and are being used by a number of schools.  You can access them here.

The report of the NUT delegation to Finland will feed into whole-executive discussions on possible educational futures and positive proposals we can make on accountability and the involvement of teachers in formulating education policy.  Beth Davis (President) reported the response of Finnish teachers to OFSTED.  When we described how the inspection regime works in this country, Finnish teachers wefe shocked and responded by saying, "This is fascism."

The NUT delegation to TUC Women's Conference was exceptionally well received and the T-Shirts about protecting childhood went down really well.  For the EI Women's Conference in Dublin, we have produced a leaflet on the NUT's work which is fronted with a picture of our WTUC delegation.  As with the T-Shirts, it will contain a focus on protecting childhood.  Max Hyde (Vice-President) reported that the NUT motion on childhood will go forward to full TUC agenda.  The Union should be really proud that we are standing up for our children.  She also talked about the NUT's work on challenging stereotypes and the fact that we are the only trade union to sit on the Advisory Group for Girls in Physics.

Beth Davies (President) went as an observer to Young Workers Conference. A Unite member (working as a school cleaner) talked about how it was the school NUT rep who recruited him into a union and called on all teacher unions to unite with the NUT.

The Executive went on to look at the Unite response to the HQ restructure documents issued in December. Having discussed both the response anf the amended proposals fromthe Officers, the Executive voted to move forward but to include flexibility regarding the detail of the new structure until at least Jan 2015. There was an amendment to delay a decision on the proposals but this was lost.

Overall, the Executive was very positive in the light of Wednesday's strike and the growing strength of our campaign.

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