Thursday 11 December 2014

Supporting Members in Academies

Yesterday's meeting of the Negotiating with Academies Sub-Group considered how to support our members in academies most effectively.

Time to get moving on Professional Unity

The NUT Professional Unity Committee met yesterday and discussed how to take forward our campaign to bring together all the teachers' unions and to create a new Union fit for the 21st century.  The committee discussed a range of issues and positive initiatives, including a conference in the new year.

International Matters

The NUT International Solidarity Committee met yesterday and discussed a number of issues, including taking forward our work with Edukid and the General Union of Palestinian Teachers to produce curriculum materials which explore what life is like for Palestinian children suffering poverty and occupation. Further detail on this project is available in this post.

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.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Regional Council: Representation and Organisation

Today's South East Regional Council meeting was dominated by two things - representation and organisation.

What it Means to be a Teacher

Yesterday, I had an experience that reminded me what it means to be a teacher.

In the current world of deep marking, data analysis, work scrutiny, learning walks and lesson observation, it is sometimes difficult to remember why we came into teaching and what it is we are here to do.  From the current set of priorities forced on most schools, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were employed to create an immaculate set of 30 books that would go out into the world and... or to hone our skills to prepare the perfect performance for an external set of teaching 'experts', using children as props to show off our skills... or that the key to education was to produce comprehensive evidence of 3 steps progress (whatever that actually means) for every child every year...

Thursday 13 November 2014

Recruiting and Supporting Reps

There was an interesting discussion at yesterday's NUT Eastern Region Executive about Rep recruitment and support.  Workplace Representatives are absolutely essential to the NUT in the current situation.  Firstly, because of the increasing fragmentation of the system we need to respond effectively to issues at workplace level.  It is the workplace Rep who is best placed to do this in the first instance.  Secondly, mounting an effective resistance to fragmentation, marketisation and privatisation rests on our ability to organise and mobilise our membership.  This necessitates a strong level of workplace organisation and the workplace Rep is crucial to this.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Regional Professional Unity Conferences

A quick note as I have had a number of queries about these conferences.

At the Professional Unity Conference on 1st March 2014, a proposal was made to hold regional conferences to take the message of unity out across England and Wales.  This was then written into the Professional Unity motion which was passed by NUT Annual Conference 2014 and became official NUT policy.

Thursday 6 November 2014

National Executive: General Secretary's Report

At today's NUT National Executive meeting, Christine Blower reported on NUT involvement in the Centre for Labour And Social Studies (CLASS), which held its 2014 conference at the weekend.  Christine was pleased to report that she sat on the steering committee of CLASS for the Union and that the President has spoken at the conference.  She recommended that members who hadn't seen the work and publications of CLASS yet look them up.

Supporting Our Activists

The Organising and Membership Committee this morning received a report from the Health and Safety Working Group about lay officer stress.  We put a proposal, from the working group, for the Executive to give "urgent consideration to implementing practical, preventative measures to support lay officers experiencing stress related to their role".

National Executive: Standing Up for Education

When we launched our national Stand Up for Education campaign in March 2014, it would have been impossible to predict quite where we would be only 8 months later.  The campaign was a response to two things:
  • The end of our joint strike action with the NASUWT and the first national strike action taken by the NUT alone since we began action on pensions 3 years earlier - this presented us with both dangers, in particular of being isolated, and opportunities, namely the opportunity to broaden our campaign and to deepen parental and wider community involvement.
  • A developing feeling that the NUT, and the Trade Union movement more widely, had to build broader alliances in order to campaign effectively against policies which are not just limited to teachers' terms and conditions but which affect education in the broadest sense.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Training Our Activists for the Future

Over recent years, the NUT has begun the process of rebuilding itself as an organising union which draws strength from its membership and prioritises workplace organisation.  This has necessitated a complete shift in our approach to Rep training.  NUT Reps form the bedrock of the Union and, in response to the current fragmentation of the education system, have a key and increasing responsibility for organising teachers in their workplace.

Improving Our Website

This afternoon's meeting of the NUT Communications Sub-Committee focused on the NUT Web Redevelopment Project.  The aim of the project is a complete redesign of the national website to make it more user-friendly.  The aim is to launch the new site in early 2015.  If you want to raise any specific points in relation to the design of the website, drop me an email.

Challenging the Global Education Reform Movement and building solidarity with Palestine

This morning's meeting of the NUT International Solidarity Committee looked at developing our international work in solidarity with Palestine, in challenging the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and in relation to our Annual Conference in April of next year.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Prime Factors! (or good maths teaching isn't rocket science)

Not really the place for this but I came home buzzing from today's Y5/6 maths and just needed to write about it. [maybe this means a sideline in maths education posts here!]

Sunday 22 June 2014

National Executive: Striking for Public Services on 10th July

The main debate at the NUT National Executive on Thursday was of course on the upcoming strike action.

Organising Making a Difference

Thursday's Organising and Membership Committee received a report from the Union's Organising Department on the growth of academies and 'free' schools  and the latest developments in the NUT's response.

NUT Membership Growing

Thursday's meeting of the NUT Organising and Membership Committee reported a very positive and welcome growth in NUT membership over the past few months.  This is great news for the Union, particularly in the context of continuous growth over recent years and 2013 being the 4th consecutive year in which our growth rate has outstripped that of our closest sister union.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Education & Equalities

The Education & Equalities Committee of the NUT met this afternoon.  It discussed:
  • The changes to the new SEN Code of Practice and the need to ensure that there is clear guidance to members on the implementation of these.  Also, attention was drawn to the reference in the Code of Practice to the importance of children with Special Educational Needs receiving high-quality support from fully-trained teachers.

Reforming Our National Executive Structure

The NUT Working Party on Executive Member Representation met this afternoon and considered the next steps in looking at the structure of the National Executive to take greater account of demographic change and the representation of women.

Developing our International Work

The NUT International Solidarity, Peace & Disarmament Committee met today.  The committee looked at progress on the recommendations from the Union delegation to Palestine (see here).  A report of the delegation has been produced which can be downloaded here.

Thursday 22 May 2014

National Executive: Joint Strike Action on July 10th

Today's NUT National Executive agreed the next steps in our Stand Up for Education campaign and our dispute with the Secretary of State for Education.

The following paper was agreed:

Changes at Teachers Support Network

TSN has been consulting on winding up the charity and replacing it with a new charity.  The NUT has concerns that the new body would not be closely enough focussed on supporting teachers.  In particular, the current structure and governance proposed for the for the new charity falls well short of acceptable representation of teachers and the NUT at both Board and Advisory level.

Monday 19 May 2014

National Executive This Week

The NUT National Executive meets this week and my papers have arrived.  I thought it might be useful to share some of the key agenda items in advance so that members have some idea what will be discussed later in the week.  I have also included a bit of explanation of how the National Executive operates.  If you are not so interested in this, skip to the bottom for the agenda items.  If you have opinions on the following that you would like to share, I can be contacted, as always, on

Friday 2 May 2014

National Executive: Focusing Our Energies on Professional Unity

Immediately following the close of NUT Annual Conference on Tuesday 22nd April, the National Executive held a special meeting to elect the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Standing Committees and several other positions.  I drove to Oxford on Monday night in order to teach my Y6 maths group but returned to Brighton in time for the vote. The results of these elections are shown below.

Friday 25 April 2014

A Message from the Teachers' Parliament 2 - Engaging Parents

Anyone watching the Newsnight 'expose' of the 'radical takeover' of the NUT on Tuesday might have been fooled into thinking that this year's NUT conference was entirely about strike action and the battle between 'moderates' and 'militants'.

It wasn't.

A Message from the Teachers' Parliament 1 - Professional Unity

It's been a busy couple of weeks with the main teaching union conferences having taken place during last week and the weekend.

In spite of differences of timing and geography, the ATL, NASUWT and NUT conferences had a lot in common.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

National Executive: Taking the Campaign Forward

The NUT National Executive met on 3rd April to agree proposals for conference to take forward our Stand Up for Education campaign.

Monday 31 March 2014

Some thoughts on #M26

Below are some thoughts on #M26, written the day after the strike.  They have been published on the Education for the People blog and in the Morning Star but I thought it might be useful to put them here for NUT members in my executive area to consider and respond to.  If you have any thoughts, email me at

Sunday 30 March 2014

National Executive: NUT Celebrates Successful Strike Day

At Thursday's NUT National Executive, Christine Blower (General Secretary) reported on the March 26th strike day, which went incredibly well.  Our national public and media presence was very strong, in particular Kevin's interview with Sky News where he points out that ministers have failed to engage with talks to resolve our dispute.  This led to a difficult interview for David Laws and the day continued to get better from there.

Friday 28 February 2014

National Executive: Building Our Campaign

At today's NUT National Executive, Christine Blower (General Secretary) and Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secretary) reported on the progress in our campaign to Stand Up for Education.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Expert View

Far too much education policy is not based on research or evidence but instead on political fads. For example, the current drive to deregulate teaching with the introduction of unqualified teachers, pay with the removal of the national framework and schools with the development of 'free' schools and academies has no basis in evidence at all. Indeed, all the available evidence suggests these things are more likely to damage children's education than to improve it.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Oxfordshire Teachers Stand Up for Education

Today, we kicked off a series of meetings in Oxfordshire schools about the NUT Stand Up for Education campaign.  The first meeting went well, with strong support for the campaign.  Further details will be posted on our local blog here.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Music for Organising!

I feel like I've completed my quota of exercise for the day after dancing around for half an hour to Which Side Are You On? by Rebel Diaz whilst carrying both kids.  Maybe not everyone's idea of the perfect Saturday morning activity but the sheer joy on their faces shows the power of music to inspire.

Extending the School Day?

This half term has given me a real opportunity to reflect on what education is and what it could be.  Over the past three days, I have taken part in three very different activities with my daughters Rosa (3 years) and Clara (10 months).

Monday 17 February 2014

Learning from Each Other

Every day, we face more stories of Michael Gove's plans to 'reform' our education system.  Whether it is testing from age four, 10-hour school days, pay deregulation or the creation of unaccountable new schools with no responsibility to hire qualified teachers, things are certainly not improving.

Sunday 2 February 2014

More for NUT Reps

The National Executive on Thursday received a report of a new tool for NUT Representatives which allows them to view and update their school membership records.  NUT Reps can register scurely and access the service at

National Executive: National Strike Action this Term

Thursday's NUT National Executive meeting had a full and thorough discussion of our joint action campaign with the NASUWT to defend pay, pensions, jobs and working conditions.  This included looking at action so far, the ongoing threat from government and the position of the NASUWT towards further action in defence of teachers and education.  As I have said previously, we have to consider both the importance of a strong response to government attacks and working to maintain and extend our united campaign with NASUWT.  This formed the core of the National Executive's discussion and there was agreement from all members that the NUT must continue to defend its members and our schools and students by taking further action this term.  We sincerely hope that this action will be taken jointly with other teachers unions but are preparing ourselves to take action alone if necessary.

Thursday 30 January 2014

National Executive: Local Action

At today's NUT National Executive, Christine Blower reported on the wide range of local campaigning activities and action taking place across the country.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

OFSTED: It's all about the kids!

I will admit to being a little suspicious when I first read that Policy Exchange, the right-wing think tank co-founded by Michael Gove, was surveying teachers' views on OFSTED. Suggestions had begun to surface in the press that maybe there was a rift developing between Michael Gove and Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, whom he once described as a hero. But I found that difficult to believe.

Solidarity with Palestine

The NUT International Relations, Peace and Disarmament met this afternoon and approved the recommendations from the Union delegation to Palestine last year.  This includes circulating the delegation report to conference delegates, Association Secretaries and International Solidarity Officers throughout the Union and publicising findings in The Teacher.  An initial report can be found here (p18).  The report highlights the impact of the occupation on children and teachers who struggle to get to school because of checkpoints and whose school buildings face demolition or closure.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Ticket Office Closures

One of the highlights of the South East Region TUC Council yesterday was guest speaker Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of TSSA.  Manuel spoke passionately about the campaign against ticket office closures on the London Underground.

School Places Crisis

Yesterday's South East Region TUC Council heard from teachers in NUT and NASUWT about the school places crisis that has been caused by the current government.  Speaking on a motion from the NUT about the crisis, which is affecting children across the country, teachers described how the government's obsession with developing 'free' schools has led it to ban local authorities from opening new schools in areas of need, transferring the money instead to 'free' school projects in areas with surplus places.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Thursday 16 January 2014

Update on the Action Campaign

At today's NUT Special Executive meeting, the General Secretary reported on the latest developments in the national action campaign:

Friday 10 January 2014

Global Education 'Reform': Resistance & Solidarity

At its meeting on 11th December, the International Sub-Committee of the NUT National Executive agreed to organise a joint conference with the Teacher Solidarity Research Collaborative on the theme of teacher resistance to the Global Education 'Reform' Movement.

Thursday 9 January 2014

2nd Oxfordshire Reading Conference

The OECD report Reading for Change states that engaging children in reading for pleasure as "may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change."  There is a significant amount of research to back up this assertion.

Update on the Action Campaign

At the beginning of the year, I thought it would be worth giving an update of where we are at with the NASUWT/NUT joint action campaign. The background to the campaign is set out here in an article I wrote for Education for Tomorrow.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Uniting for Education

A new year has begun and, for those involved in education, the outlook seems bleak.  Teacher morale is dangerously low, something actively welcomed by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools.  The government's 'free' school and academy programme has, as suggested by Gove's special adviser earlier this year, led to "disastrous teaching" and "financial fraud".  Possibly most worryingly, children's right to be taught by a qualified teacher has been removed, a move cynically announced on the opening day of the 2012 Olympics.