Tuesday 28 March 2017

Union Activity Should be Uplifting and Rejuvenating

After school today, I went to Slough NUT AGM, followed by Milton Keynes NUT AGM. At the end of the second meeting, I got into a very brief conversation with someone about the difficulty of balancing union activity with an increasingly stressful job. Far too many potential union activists are put off by the sheer volume of workload that teaching now entails. The only antidote to this is for union activity itself to be the thing that rejuvenates and recharges activists after a hard day at school.

The conversation reminded me of the regional union meeting we attended in Pinar del Rio in Cuba, where we were welcomed with song and delegates spoke animatedly about the difference involvement in the union made to their lives and those of their colleagues and neighbours. It was hard not to feel excited and energised by the end of the meeting.

Saturday 25 March 2017

An Unprecedented Opportunity

Kevin Courtney opened his General Secretary's report to this week's National Executive by talking about the unprecedented opportunity presented by the overwhelming votes in both NUT and ATL to form a new National Education Union. He described the decision as historic and paid tribute to those who had paved the way, in particular former General Secretary Steve Sinnott.

At the same time, Kevin cautioned against complacency. As he stated very clearly, whilst this situation presents an opportunity, unity in and of itself does not guarantee an improvement in our situation. The opportunity presented by the creation of the NEU is a strong voice for education professionals that can challenge the priorities of the Global Education 'Reform' Movement, as represented in current government policy. However, that opportunity can only be realised through our conscious activity.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

National Education Union confirmed

In an historic decision today, members of the NUT and ATL have voted overwhelmingly to unite in the creation of a new National Education Union.

This is a significant step forward for teacher trades unionism, which has been divided for far too long, exposing significant weakness in the face of a government assault on our conditions of service and our education system. The new union would bring together teachers and other education professionals in a single organisation of half a million members.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Recognising Local Activists at Regional Council

Today, I was very privileged to present the awards for South East Regional Officer and Rep of the Year at our regional council meeting. These awards, which I presented alongside my executive colleague Jackie Baker, recognise best practice across the union, in terms of engaging, organising and supporting members.

The two winners of the awards, David Stalley (Rep of the Year) and Marcia DeCruz (Officer of the Year) both demonstrated the extent to which local activists really are the bedrock of the union. They make the difference as to whether members feel supported, are well organised and develop the collective confidence to improve their working lives.

Friday 17 March 2017

We Must Fight to Preserve Comprehensive Education

On Wednesday, I attended the steering committee of Comprehensive Future as an observer for the NUT. It was clear from the discussion at the meeting that we face a crunch point on the future of comprehensive and selective education.

Theresa May seems intent on reintroducing selective education to those areas of the country that are currently comprehensive, as well as allowing the expansion of grammars in the selective areas. Given the fact that this government has few other domestic policies that haven't already ended in a U-turn, it seems possible that they will go for full repeal of the ban on new grammars, maybe within the next few weeks.

Opportunities to be Realised

On Wednesday, I delivered the political report and led discussion at the Education for Tomorrow editorial board. I focused on the opportunities presented by the possibility of a new union next week.

If ATL and NUT members vote yes to the creation of a new union, this will present us with a huge opportunity to build a stronger, more united voice for education workers, built on a foundation of greater engagement of members in workplaces up and down the country.