Sunday 30 November 2014

Organising and Campaigning in Reading

This weekend was Reading NUT's annual Rep Training Weekend.  School Reps and activists from across Reading come together on Friday evening for a keynote speech and dinner, then a day's training on the Saturday.  There were a number of sessions throughout the weekend but the key themes of the event were campaigning and organising.

This started on the Friday with the Education Manifesto.

On Friday night, Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney spoke about taking our Stand Up for Education campaign forward, in particular around the Education Manifesto.  In a lively and engaging presentation, Kevin took us through the strategy of the Stand Up campaign, the gains won so far and how we can take the manifesto forward to make education a real issue at the General Election next year.

In particular, Kevin talked about the importance of getting teachers and parents in marginal constituencies to at around the manifesto.  Regional offices have now agreed a list of target constituencies where we believe there is a real chance of winning candidates to the key point of our manifesto.

If you are not sure which your target constituencies are, contact your Regional Office now.

There are a range of actions you could take in these constituencies and it is worth drawing up a clear plan in consultation with your committee, Reps and key activists but some initial suggestions can be found here.

In terms of a plan, you will want to think about what needs doing to first mobilise public opinion (which is already supportive but not organised), then shift the policies of the candidates.  A possible outline is available here:

Remember - what we want is candidates of all political parties to make clear commitments to specific policies within our manifesto and to acting on them if elected.

The NUT cannot support any political party or individual candidate but, if we build support for our manifesto in key constituencies and persuade people to vote for the future of education, candidates who support these policies will do better and those who oppose us will do worse.  There are around 1000 teachers in each electoral constituency, not to mention family, friends, parents and people who have read and engaged with our manifesto.  That is a very good reason for candidates of all political hues to take our policies seriously.

At the same time, we are looking to build sustainable alliances with parents and others to continue the campaign after the General Election.

Regardless of how successful we are at making education an election issue, there will be real work after the election to make sure that those candidates who committed to our policies act and that those who didn't are persuaded to listen to parents and teachers.  Our campaign will be even more necessary going forward.

There was a useful discussion about how to begin this work in the context of Reading and how to focus our energies for maximum effect.  Kevin's input was incredibly useful, showing how the national strategy of the Stand Up for Education campaign an be applied effectively in local circumstances.

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