Friday 27 May 2016

Cake and Conversation

Week #5 Meeting #14

Today was my own school meeting. As it was Friday, we went with a #greenfridays theme and I baked (vegan) cakes:

We stole the Cheney School NUT group idea of #NUTea and had tea and cakes, along with a discussion of the white paper campaign and industrial action ballot. We had a good discussion and came up with a number of ideas for informing and engaging parents, as well as answering queries about the ballot.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Building on Existing Networks

Week #5 Meeting #13

This afternoon's meeting at Iffley Academy clashed with a number of other events but we decided to go ahead anyway because we were running out of alternative dates. As attendance was small and the members there knew the issues well, we focused on how members can use school networks to spread the message.

As the Labour Notes book Secrets of a Successful Organiser says, "Your workplace might feel like a disorganised mess. But the truth is, you're not starting from zero. There's organisation there already - though it might not have anything to do with the union...

Meetings Don't Have To Be Long!

Week #5 Meeting #12

Great short lunchtime meeting today at SS Mary & John Primary in Oxford. I gave a 10min presentation on the White Paper, followed by 5min of questions.

This was easily enough time for members to understand the main elements of the White Paper and the threat it poses to both education and teacher terms and conditions. The photo was taken at there staff meeting after school. So, if your colleagues are busy, why not fit in a 15min meeting?

Monday 23 May 2016

Piecing Together the Jigsaw

Week #5 Meeting #11

My second meeting of the day was a joint teacher-parent meeting in Thame Town Hall. This one actually came about because a parent contacted me out of the blue several weeks ago to say local parents were concerned about the white paper and, if they booked a room and invited both parents and teachers, would I come and speak.

Obviously, I was only to happy to agree, not just because it would be our first NUT meeting in Thame for some time but also because I was keen to learn more about parental concerns. We publicised the meeting to local teachers and it was publicised to local parents by the organisers. On the day, we had a few teachers (mainly local school Reps), and a few parents (mainly from a particular local primary school).


Week #5 Meeting #10

Great meeting with NUT members at Cheney School today. As with other meetings, there was a real strength of feeling about what this government is doing to education and a real willingness to fight for decent national terms and conditions that apply to all teachers, in schools and academies. However, it was when we got onto school level organising ideas that things got interesting!


The school has a 'staff tea' every Friday where each department takes a turn to host the staff for tea and cakes after school. So, on Friday 10th, the school NUT group will take a turn hosting staff tea, with a variety of green iced cakes and tea (not exclusively green tea)!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

The Importance of Unity

Week #4 Meeting #9

Really pleased today to discuss the Education White Paper not just with NUT members but also the NASUWT Rep at The Oxford Academy. Whilst teachers continue to be represented by a number of different organisations, dividing and weakening our voice, it is essential that we try to co-ordinate our approach as much as possible at national, local and most importantly workplace level.

While there are different democratic structures, there will always be the potential for different strategy and tactics to emerge. We must seek to minimise this in the short term by open co-ooeration and eradicate it in the long term by bringing together teacher organisations into a single union that can speak for all education professionals.

Saturday 14 May 2016

So Much Support Out There!

Today was really uplifting in terms of showing me just how much support there is out there for our campaign. It has been a long week, starting with Sunday recording sessions for our own protest song - #ThisSchool:

The girls and I went down and really enjoyed the day, singing with others about something we passionately believe in.

Friday 13 May 2016

West Oxfordshire Stands Up

Week #3 Meeting #8

Another lively meeting in Witney, West Oxfordshire today. There's definitely something good about organising a strike meeting in the heart of the Prime Minister's constituency when this government is so responsible for what has happened to education.

Again, there was huge support for the strike action the NUT is taking and for our broader campaign against the proposals in the government's white paper.

It was also positive to be holding the first of what look set to be regular meetings in West Oxfordshire - for more info, check out West Oxfordshire NUT on Facebook.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Didcot Stands Up

Week #3 Meeting #7

First meeting in Oxfordshire tonight, ably led by our local Secretary, Sarah Carter. Sarah drew attention to the way in which the drive to academisation impacts directly on teachers' terms and conditions. If there are no maintained schools left, and no teachers employed by local government, the schools Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document and Burgundy Book would cease to exist.

This would affect all teachers, in maintained schools and existing academies, in particular those in Oxfordshire, where all academies follow the same terms and conditions as maintained schools.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Linking Together

Week #3 Meeting #6

Great to be at a joint Reading & Wokingham meeting on the strike today. Meeting number 6 for me and meeting number 4 for Rosa and Clara (3 this week). It's been a gruelling programme (for me and them) - school, then meeting, then bed - each night but the strength of feeling in each meeting is really energising.

Reading/Wokingham was no exception, with strong opposition to the government's dismantling of state education, and equally strong support for strike action to demand national terms and conditions for teachers in all schools, colleges and academies, and increased school funding.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

What are we Fighting FOR?

Week #3 Meeting #5

A great welcome in Milton Keynes this evening and again a fruitful discussion about building support for the ballot. In particular, Reps in Milton Keynes were a pains to point out that this can't just be a defensive struggle to protect what we have left but must be about establishing better terms and conditions for all teachers, whatever kind of school or college they teach in.

One of the key reasons for this, eloquently put forward by MK activists, is that teachers have already lost so much. With admin, cover and even PPA regulations being eroded in academies, and national agreements on pay in tatters, it is not enough to protect what we have. The fact is teachers, and the children they teach, deserve better.

Monday 9 May 2016

Conversation, Conversation, Conversation

Week #3 Meeting #4

This afternoon, I met NUT activists in Slough for what will be the first of a week of ballot meetings across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Milton Keynes.

The most important point raised at the meeting came from Kate O'Neil, a local activist and member of the Slough NUT committee and it related to how we use material in school. Kate talked about how we should consider any publicity or material, whether a leaflet, poster, T-shirt, badge or anything else, as a conversation piece.

Sunday 8 May 2016

The Government Climbdown and the NUT Strike

Yesterday, the government announced a significant climbdown in relation to forced academisation. The white paper will no longer include proposals for legislation to force the conversion of every maintained school by 2022. This is a significant victory both because it withdraws one of the worst clauses of this paper and because it shows that, when teachers, parents and governors act together, we can win real concessions from government.

However, the government has replaced this legislation with sweeping powers for the Secretary of State to order the conversion of entire local authority areas in one go, and retains the aim of converting all schools by 2022. In addition, the other provisions of the white paper remain, including abolishing QTS, removing parent governors, and the threat to teachers pay and conditions.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Cakes, Balloons, Pay and Conditions!

Week #2 Meeting #3

This evening, I met with Bracknell Forest NUT activists to discuss building for the NUT strike ballot. It was a well-attended meeting with a lively discussion of the issues leading to the dispute, in particular the threat to teachers' terms and conditions posed by the combination of forced academisation and diminishing school funding.

Monday 2 May 2016

Activist Meetings in District 18

OK. So the first two meetings (in Windsor & Maidenhead and West Berkshire) have now taken place but they have already been replaced by two additional meetings in Banbury and Thame (both Oxfordshire). This brings the current list up to ten again: