Thursday, 3 October 2013

Executive Report: October 2013

The full executive met at Hamilton House October 3rd

The meeting reappointed Bernard Regan (London Executive member for over 25 years) and Judith Elderkin (former National President) as Trustees of the Union for a five year term.

Christine Blower reported:

We had a good presence at three party conferences- holding fringe meetings on What is Education For ? Past President Mariliyn Harrop congratulated the staff on the stands in the exhibitions at all of the conferences- particularly at the Lib Dems, where we appeared to be the only trade union stall.

The School Places crisis continues- it is clear from the evidence offered by Directors of Children's' Services that they needed the power to open new Community Schools, and to also to close or expand provision- including Academies- when necessary due to demand. Vice-President Max Hyde condemned the racist angle being spun on this by the Daily Mail and others, seeking to blame immigration for the school places issue, rather than the planning free-for-all.

Christine  noted that we had seen a really good and visible presence at the TUC Lobby of Conservative Party conference in Manchester- over 60,000 people marched to support the NHS.
The Curriculum Concern website is up and running- and members are urged to contribute. This is being supported by us, the NASUWT; the Centre For Applied  Research In Education; and the Association for the Professional Development Of Early Years Educators.
Our recent work with the Child Poverty Action Group was well reported, with a Daily Mirror front page, entitled “Britain's Hungry Children”  We have also launched a DVD and resource pack on Conflict and Climate Change- Bruce Kent chaired the launch on behalf of the Movement for the Abolition of War.
The main focus of Christine's report was, unsurprisingly, on the strike action and the national dispute.

We have had a letter from Michael Gove stating that he is committed to resolving the dispute, but also stating that the Government's position on Pay and Pensions is “fixed”. He also makes no reference to the issue of employment conditions: where Gove's submission to STRB is a full-on attack on most of the protections afforded to our members !
She rubbished claims that were circulated on Twitter that the joint strategy was falling apart and that the NUT and NASUWT were negotiating separately- this is blatantly untrue. We have always maintained dialogue with appropriate officials in DfE on a range of topics, both as individual unions and together.

(c) Paul Hermann, taken from NUT
National website (see link)
The strike action on 1st October was strongly supported, and the major rallies and local meetings on the day were well supported. Christine particularly praised the quality of the speakers at these events. We received substantial coverage in local and national media, and a great deal of web-based coverage.
We continue to receive considerable support from other TUC affiliated unions, and from the TUC: Frances O'Grady has been a strong supporter, and has facilitated meetings and discussions with other unions who are in dispute with the Government.

Gove has rubbished what he calls “the blob” of the educationalists who have criticised his round of endless testing- these include many eminent professors of education and poets such as Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy- basically anyone who disagreed with him- accusing their criticism of being “vapid clichés”

Christine also the also quoted the Chairman of the independent schools' Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference, referring to the DfE as the “Goviet”

There was a full discussion about the success of different action across the regions who took action on 1st October- several executive members took the opportunity to refer to specific marches and meetings that had been particularly special.

There was discussion about when the national strike date will be announced. Christine explained that this can't be decided until we have been able to review both days of joint action with our NASUWT partners. We remain committed to taking this action before Christmas, as previously stated.

Kevin Courtney dealt with a question about the Policy Exchange survey that implied that teachers supported performance related pay- he explained how vague and leading the question was. The Telegraph ran with the story spinning this line: the BBC coverage was much more balanced. The survey did reveal that the vast majority of the profession were unsatisfied with the level of bureaucracy in schools and external testing. He also exposed the fantasy question asking if teachers could work in a school with PRP but no bureaucracy, would you want to work there ?  Kevin opined that this is a bit like asking “if cake was less fattening, would you eat more of it ?”  You can read the press release, and Christine's comments here.

Christine reported that the action in Wales has been suspended, due to constructive dialogue with the Welsh Assembly Government.  They are still expected to be part of the National action, as a number of the issues we are in dispute about are not delegated to the Welsh Assembly from Westminster.

Christine also noted that the NAHT has now formally requested to affiliate to the TUC, and, in line with the motion proposed by me in June, we will be supporting their application (this assumes, of course, that they will be following the rules and protocols of the TUC)

In other business covered in the meeting:-
  • The Executive agreed the Union's submission to the DfE Consultation on Assessment and Accountability in the Primary Phase. I will post a link to the document here as soon as it is on the NUT website.
  • The Executive reluctantly agreed to recommend the Sixth Form Colleges pay offer of 1% as the best that could be achieved through negotiation. 
  • We agreed to respond to a TUC consultation on the definition of "young workers" in the unions, and agreed that the principle should be that this should reflect the definition of young members in individual affiliates' rules.
  • There were discussions about the consultation around proposed changes in governance for the Teacher Support Network.  It was clear that the Union will want TSN services to remain for teachers supporting teachers, and that any governance arrangements reflect the fact that the majority of monies received from bequests ad other income is from NUT members.  
  • It was agreed to send a delegation to a reception of the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group being hosted by John McDonnell MP later this month. I was elected on to this delegation.

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