Tuesday, 22 April 2014

NUT Annual Conference 2014 Report: Monday 21st April

Back to a full day at Conference, with a range of policy debates, and also the presentation of two important annual awards from the Union.

The Fred and Anne Jarvis Award is presented annually to a person from outside the Union who has made an important contribution to education campaigns. It is presented by Fred Jarvis, former NUT Secretary, in memory of his late wife, who was an NUT member, Labour councillor, and education campaigner.

This year, the award went to Michael Lees, who has been a leading campaigner on the important issue of getting rid of asbestos from our schools.  Michael’s wife Gina, a nursery school teacher, and an NUT member, was exposed to asbestos at a number of different schools and died of mesothelioma at the age of 51. In the 12 years since her death, Michael has emerged as a leading voice on the risks of asbestos exposure.  

His website www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk is one of the best places on the internet for evidence and research about asbestos and mesothelioma. Michael has also written extensively on the subject in the press, advised countless journalists and given a great many media interviews.

The Blair Peach Award is named in honour of NUT member and anti-fascist campaigner Blair Peach, who was murdered by a still unidentified member of the Special Police Group while taking part in a demonstration against the National Front in 1979.  The award goes to an NUT member who has made an outstanding contribution in campaigning on equality issues.  This year's winner was Sam Kirk works at Tong High School, a co-educational 11-18 school for 1600 pupils, who together are representative of Bradford’s diverse population. At her school, Sam secured a tutorial program for all year groups on the issue of homophobia and the effects it has on young people. An accompanying theatre project, performed by Key Stage 4/5 students, was seen at the Alhambra Studio theatre and screened at a Holocaust Memorial event in Bradford. As a consequence of this work, Tong High School monitors incidents of homophobia more closely and both staff and students feel better able to challenge those views.

The day saw a variety of important policy decisions.  The debate and vote on the Priority Motion on the Stand Up for Education campaign was completed- committing us to stepping up the campaign, with a commitment to taking further strike action in June if no progress is made, and to engage with members about building for further action in the Autumn term. You can read the Union's press release on the campaign here.

The second priority motion was taken- on the issue of Sixth Form funding and the scandalous appropriation of funds to the Free Schools programme- exemplified by the £45 million being given to a post-16 free school in Westminster, run by the Harris chain, founded by Tory donor Lord Harris. Christine Blower said:
"The Government cuts to post-16 funding are senseless and damaging.  Despite their demonstrable success in securing results and preparing students for further study or the world of work, sixth form colleges have been particularly hard hit.  They have already lost over £100 million in funding already and further planned cuts will put many colleges’ viability at risk, both in terms of the breadth of the curriculum and their very existence." 
The motion on Supply that was partly proposed by the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT Association was debated. It  highlights the attacks on conditions for supply teachers, and once again raised the scandal that Supply Teachers who are employed through Agencies cannot contribute to the Teachers Pension Scheme.  It was seconded in an excellent speech by local supply teacher Natasha Witham.

Also debated and passed were motions on:
  • Capability Procedures
  • Attacks on Teachers' Pay and Conditions
  • The Use of Numerical Targets and Ofsted Grades in School Appraisal and Pay Policies
  • Early Years and Primary Assessment
  • The Too Much Too Soon campaign
In the evening, I attended the reception for Disabled Teachers, which heard from National President May Hyde, Disabled Teachers' executive member Mandy Hudson, and veteran inclusion campaigner Richard Rieser.

In the evening was the Executive Dinner, when I got to say my farewell to those colleagues who I have served with on the Executive for the past six years.  Also leaving the Executive are Tony Tonks, Veronica Peppiatt, Julie Lyon-Taylor, Eddie Ritson, Marilyn Harrop and Clare Jones. We also said farewell to Marian Darke after many years of service as an Executive member, National President, Regional Officer, and most recently as Regional Secretary for the South East Region.

No comments:

Post a Comment