Thursday 16 July 2015

National Executive: General Secretary's Report

At today's NUT National Executive, Christine Blower reported on the NUT presence on the 250,000 strong People's Assembly march on June 20th. The TUC is now supporting People's Assembly events at the Tory party conference, including mass meetings on education, health, housing, etc. and a march on the Sunday.

Since the Executive away day, the office has been developing a comprehensive campaign report to respond to the latest attacks on state schools, facilities time, trade union rights and a the attacks on social rights and wages in the recent budget.

Education & Adoption Bill

At this morning's Education & Equalities Committee Celia Dignan, Principal Officer for Privatisation, School Improvement and Inspection, reported on the successful joint parliamentary meeting on the Bill, organised by NUT, ATL, NAHT, Unison and the National Governors Association.

The meeting was attended by MPs from Labour, LibDem and Conservative Parties with two of the Labour leadership candidates, Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham, attending to pledge their support for the campaign.

A briefing has beenn produced for MPs on the damage the Bill will do and the committee agreed that these would be adapted for use by local activists.

The unions involved are looking at joint amendments they could sponsor in the House of Lords to try and weaken the most damaging provisions of the Bill.

Members can keep up to date on the progress of the Bill by clicking here.

Baseline Testing update

Ken Jones, Principal Officer for Curriculum and Assessment, reported to the Education & Equalities Committee this morning on the growing problems the government are facing with the introduction of Baseline Testing.

The vast majority of schools have chosen the Early Excellence model of testing which is based on teacher assessment. This poses a number of problems for the government. Firstly, they were clear that they wanted standardised testing of 4 year olds, not teacher assessment. Secondly, the model they had developed was of free market competition between six commercial companies and this now looks unlikely due to the low uptake of the other five options.

In addition, OFSTED have made a number of criticisms of the reliability of baseline testing. Whilst these come from almost the exact opposite point of view from the NUT approach, it further weaken's the government case.

Finally, the government has been clear that the data will not be reliable at cohort level meaning that even those forcing these tests on children suggest that it should not be used to judge progress within school.

Bacc for the Future?

Nicky Morgan is attempting to breath new life into Michael Gove's plan to further narrow the secondary curriculum through the introduction of an English Baccalaureate. The Incorporated Society of Musicians has begun a campaign to prevent the exclusion of arts subjects from the new qualification and this has already drawn wide support.

This links with the broad Bacc for the Future campaign which defeated earlier proposals and has been revived. Members are encouraged to sign up to support this campaign here.

LGBT Conference & Equalities Update

The NUT Education & Equalities Committee today received a very positive report of the LGBT Teachers Conference from LGBT Executive member Annette Pryce. The event was a real success, although some delegates had been discouraged by the event being a full weekend. The committee received the decision from the conference to look at a Friday/Saturday event with an overnight on the Friday next year. It was also agreed to look at holding the conference in Manchester next year.  If these changes are successful, this may become a fixed future pattern for the event.