Thursday 5 November 2015

International Issues

At today's Executive meeting, Christine Blower reported on the excellent work done by Justice for Columbia in bringing together leaders of the FARC and the Columbian government.  JfC are looking to bring FARC leaders to South Africa, northern Ireland and Britain as part of the peace process.  The NUT will support the visa application process for FARC leaders.

The General Secretary then reported on the case of 4 teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico who have been arrested on charges relating to protests against regressive education 'reform' which could see them spend up to 40 years in prison. The Union has written a formal letter of protest to the Mexican Embassy and offered solidarity to the arrested teachers.

Finally, Christine reported that we have received a letter from Grant Shapps, Minister of State at the Department for International Development in response to our campaign against British aid money being spent on education privatisation in the global south.  In the letter, Shapps defends the use of taxpayers' money to fund private education companies who are aggressively 'opening up' education markets and threatening state education in some of the worlds poorest countries. The reply also admits that DfID is currently paying fees directly to private shool operators for some 22,000 children, amounting to a massive direct subsidy of global edu-businesses.

Austerity, Annexes & Exam Factories

At today's National Executive meeting, the General Secretary opened by welcoming the growing fight against austerity and commending the work of the People's Assembly.

She went on to describe the government's perverse decision to allow the opening of a grammar school 'annexe' in a different town. She announced that the Union would be working with Comprehensive Future on the question of how to challenge the decision.

Organising & Membership

This morning's meeting of the Organising and Membership Committee discussed three main areas:

  • The Union's response to recruitment challenges brought about by the growth of Schools Direct and 'free' schools. These have the potential to affect the traditional recruitment routes via student recruitment at universities and school-based recruitment in schools with existing union groups and a history of union activity. This emphasises the importance of our organising work and of building a union presence and recruiting workplace reps in every school, including new schools.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Executive This Week: Let me know your views

The NUT National Executive meets later this week, as do a number of standing committees and other committees (for an explanation of how these work click here). As National Executive member for District 18, I am keen to know what issues matter to you so I can raise them at the relevant committee or full Executive meeting.

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.

Friday 27 February 2015

Sneering at the Electorate Will Do Labour No Favours

There are a variety of views about the European Union amongst traditional Labour supporters and the country more broadly.  There are those who believe that it is a panacea for all the ills of the world, from war to economic instability to poverty.

There are also a growing number of people who have concerns about the EU, over the widely publicised Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with Canada), over the services directive which attempts to impose a model of privatisation based on Britain's rail network across Europe, over the posted workers directive and European Court of Justice rulings which allow the super-exploitation of migrant workers to undercut national collective agreements, or the recent attempts to overturn the democratic will of the Greek people and subject their economy to yet more free market shock therapy.

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.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Mark Rylance Supports NUT Manifesto

Last night, the NUT announced that Mark Rylance, Director and Star of the BBC Wolf Hall adaptation, has given his support to the NUT Education Manifesto.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Training and Professional Development

Today's meeting of the NUT Training & Professional Development Subcommittee started by welcoming the success of the recent one-day Division Secretaries' Briefing.  The use of a larger venue at Congress House enabled a greater attendance, meaning that a wider layer of activists (beyond just Division Secretaries) could attend.  This was welcomed by the committee.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Education at What Price? Politics, Power & Privatisation

Over the past 5 years, we have witnessed the fragmentation of our entire education system.  This process has moved at an incredible pace.  In May 2010, there were just 203 academies, all of which were sponsored.  By January 2015, this had reached 4404, representing around 13% of primary schools and 55% of secondary schools.  Whilst there is strong evidence that the rate of conversion is slowing, this is a staggering change in under 5 years.

Thursday 29 January 2015

National Executive: Campaigning on Education

The NUT National Executive has just approved a campaign plan for the next 97 days up to the General Election and discussed how we build on this following the election.

In speaking to the report, Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney said, "There are 97 days to the General Election and this is a real opportunity we must take.  The task for us has to be to involve members in doing things around these issues."

False 'Solutions' to Teacher Workload

Following the General Secretary's report to the Executive, a discussion developed on the danger of false 'solutions' to the issue of teacher workload.

Whilst Nicky Morgan has not yet released the outcome of the government's 'Workload Challenge' and discussions with Unions are continuing, recent comments made by the Secretary of State are deeply disturbing. Speaking at the BETT conference on education in technology Nicky Morgan made the following comments (full text here):

UKIP and Local Hustings

Christine Blower clarified the NUT's national position in relation to the involvement of UKIP in local hustings.  The Union nationally does not have a formal 'no platform' policy in relation to UKIP and has decided that it should be left to local Associations to decide whether or not UKIP should be invited to any hustings meetings organised.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Conference on Privatisation in Education Globally

Today's NUT International Solidarity Committee meeting agreed a proposal to hold a conference on the privatisation of education globally.  This will be an extension of the work the Union is already doing around the Global Education Reform Movement and its impact on our children's education.

New Union Resources on Palestine for Schools

The project the Union has been involved in alongside Edukid and the General Union of Palestinian Teachers is taking shape and a number of resources are currently being produced for schools to use in raising awareness of the situation of children in Palestine.

This will consist of five films which follow the life of Palestinian children, look at the impact of the blockade, interview Palestinian teenagers, look at a project on identity and explore the role of a community centre in a refugee camp.

Visit to Srebrenica

The Union is looking to support a visit to Srebrenica, put together by the organisation 'Remembering Srebrenica'.  The purpose of the visit would be Lessons from Srebrenica.  This delegation will initially be opened to International Solidarity Officers.

If you are interested in participating in the delegation of in taking on the role of International Solidarity Officer for your Association, please get in touch.