Friday 27 February 2015

National Executive: Campaigns Report

Kevin Courtney led the discussion on the campaigns report from Officers.

He began by addressing the question of further strike action.  The officers were clear that they were not recommending further strike action between now and the General Election.  Given the fact that 'purdah' begins on March 30th and, from that point onwards, no new legislation can be passed, any action we took would be a protest action against Nicky Morgan's disgraceful Workload Challenge response.

Kevin argued that, in the absence of other teacher unions joining us, such a protest strike was not the most effective way of taking our campaign forward.

He then moved on to outlining the positive proposals in the report to deepen and strengthen the Pressure and Engage strands of our strategy.

The officers' report recommended:

  • Urging all members to contact candidates in the General Election asking them to support oir 'eight points on workload';
  • Continue to give publicity to the joint union letter on workload;
  • Launch a petition based on the manifesto with the support of Michael Rosen and others;
  • Seek meetings with the main political parties in the run up to the General Election to discuss our 'eight points' and the joint letter as well as our manifesto;
  • Work with other teacher unions and with academics to put forward a critique of the current accountability system and present possible alternatives;
  • Work with other teacher unions on methods by which workload could be reduced including model work-life balance policies - aiming to take advantage of the Ofsted clarification and Annexe C;
  • Bring to a future Executive, plans for encouraging all school and college groups to near simultaneously take forward workload actions;
  • Continue to urge school and college groups to take up workload issues, including through ASOS, escalation of ASOS and otherwise; and
  • Reflect further following debate and discussion at Annual Conference.

Simon Jones outlined positive work which has taken place in Blackburn with Darwen, including work with the local newspaper to run a poll on the NUT Manifesto and distribute a copy to every household that takes the paper.  This builds on work done by Warrington with their local media to distribute manifestos to every home in the area.

They have also begun work with local football fans to promote the campaign at matches, and with student groups to engage their members, including a significant number of first-time voters, in the Stand Up for Education campaign.

Later in the meeting, a proposal was put by Martin Powell-Davis and Phil Clarke  to call a day's national strike action on March 24th.  Martin argued that this strike would be a warning shot for any future government.  Phil argued that a strike now would be better supported by our members than ever before.  After a brief debate, the proposal was heavily lost.

A second proposal was put by myself and Alex Kenny:

·    As an extension of our promotion of our manifesto the NUT will issue its own challenge to all parliamentary candidates in the Loughborough constituency, including Nicky Morgan, to Stand Up for Education:
o   We will deliver a copy of our education manifesto to every household in the constituency;
o   We will communicate directly with all our members in the constituency about the education policies of all candidates;
o   We will call a national Day of Action in the constituency on Saturday 18th April where teachers, parents and education campaigners from across the country will speak to constituents about Standing Up for Education;
o   This work will be co-ordinated with the existing work of activists and organisers in the local area;
o   All of the above will be carried out with due regard to the limitations and liabilities of the Lobbying Act.

·    The office will investigate the possibility of extending this approach to other marginal constituencies and will bring a report, and proposals if appropriate, to the March Executive.

      The intention of focusing on the Loughborough seat, and potentially other key marginals is to maximise the impact of the Pressure, Engage strands of our strategy.  By engaging members of the wider public to exercise their vote at the General Election in defence of education, we are both maximising our impact at a crucial political juncture and developing wider alliances for the future.

     Whichever party wins in May and whether we have a Labour (or Labour-led) government or a Tory (or Tory-led government) we will need to fight to defend education.  Preparing for this must be foremost in our minds.

      This addition was passed with two abstentions and the meeting closed.

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