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.
This poses a real threat to teachers in maintained schools and academies. As the number of academies increases, with the aim being complete academisation of schools in England, the statutory provisions and collective agreements applying to teachers in maintained schools will be progressively weakened. The vast majority of academies currently follow both the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document, which is statutory in maintained schools, and the 'Burgundy Book' collective agreements between teachers and local government employers, which also apply to all maintained schools.
However, as more schools become academies there will be less incentive for new and existing academies to follow these provisions as they will not primarily be competing with maintained scjools for teacher recruitment and retention. This could see teachers lose the limit of 195 working days, sick pay and maternity pay above the legal minimum, the right to PPA time, and any right to a national pay structure or pay progression.
The latter part of the meeting focused on how we can communicate this threat to teachers and encourage them to vote in the ballot.
A number of creative suggestions came up, including organising 'ballot parties' with Vote Yes cup cakes and NUT balloons - as one teacher said, "I teaching primary and, as we all know, primary schools run on cake!"
However we do it, the main thing is that we raise the profile of the campaign and ensure it becomes a topic of discussion in our staffrooms. On which note, I'm off to order NUT balloons and get baking...