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By NASUWT, Jul 2 2015 01:09PM

Commenting on the announcement by the Secretary of State Nicky Morgan on coasting schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Secretary of State is selecting criteria to define coasting schools to maximise the opportunity for extending academisation.

“Concerns should be focused on what this announcement means for schools, pupils and parents.

“It signals more uncertainty and turbulence for schools, distracting them from focusing on raising standards.

“Every child should benefit from an education which enables them to reach their potential. However, ministers are wilfully ignoring the damaging conditions they have created in which children no longer have the right to be taught by qualified teachers, where there is a major crisis in the number of graduates wanting to enter the teaching profession and where access to educational opportunity is increasingly based on parents’ ability to pay.”

By NASUWT, Jul 2 2015 01:08PM

Commenting on the report released today by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the pupil premium, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“The concept of the pupil premium is a good one.

“However, when it was first introduced the NASUWT predicted that given the cuts to school budgets the funding would inevitably end up being absorbed into the general school budget, minimising its impact.

“A recent NASUWT survey on the use of the Pupil Premium found that over half of teachers did not know how the additional funding for Pupil Premium pupils is spent in their school and over a third had not been made aware what priorities their school had focused on to support pupils who attracted the pupil premium funding.

“In too many cases teachers were not seeing any extra resource in their classrooms.

“As the NAO highlights, the Pupil Premium has the potential to make a real difference to the most disadvantaged pupils, but the benefits are currently being hampered by the lack of scrutiny on how it is being funded and spent.

“If real progress is to be made in closing the achievement gap for the most disadvantaged pupils, then those actually teaching the pupils need to be consulted on its use, there needs to be a clear system of monitoring its use and, above all, schools need to be funded appropriately to ensure the pupil premium is truly additional funding.”

By NASUWT, Jun 17 2015 11:32AM

By Jenny Moore - Researcher

The trade union bill announced in the Queen’s speech last week would introduce a threshold for strike ballots of 50% turnout before the action could go ahead. For those in ‘essential’ public services, including education, 40% of union members eligible to vote in a ballot would need to be in favour of industrial action.

These proposals have been floated by the Conservatives before, and seem to have a habit of popping up whenever there’s strike action affecting said essential services.

Reading the bill, I started to wonder whether previous strike action would have gone ahead had these thresholds been in place. The rail strike planned for this week, called off at the last minute, would have been OK as it had a 60% turnout, with 80% voting to strike. (Perhaps the threat to the right to strike itself spurred union members on to vote? Being a fairly stubborn person myself, I can imagine it having this sort of effect on me).

However, recent teaching union ballots tell a different story. Figures for the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT’s) ballots in 2011 and 2012 show a turnout of 40% and 27% respectively. In a 2011 ballot, NASUWT also had a turnout of “about 40%”, with 80% voting in favour of strike action. If the latest proposals had been in place, the strikes of November 2011 – which resulted in over half of state schools in England reportedly closing – would not have been possible.

Declining union activity

Are there even that many strikes to stop? Strike action has tapered off in the last 30 years, as has union membership itself. Research carried out by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in 2008 shows the extent of the decline: while there were around 2,750 work stoppages in 1978, this was down to fewer than 500 in 2008.

Similarly, a 2014 bulletin from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) analysing trade union membership shows that membership peaked at over 13 million in 1979. By 2013 it had declined to 6.5 million.

Is this a manifestation of growing political apathy, or is it a reflection of the fact that more and more publicly run services have been privatised in the last 30 years, and that union representation in the private sector is much lower than in the public sector?

I think the answer may be a bit of both, but I also wonder what the implications are for schools. With the growth of academies, which have freedom to set their own pay and conditions, it seems important that staff can be represented by a professional organisation in any negotiations. Where there is union representation, this can take place through the union, whose representatives can represent employees as a group. But where there is no representation, this process is likely to be much more fragmented and individualised. And it’s worth noting that academies don’t always have agreements with unions.

Interestingly, the Acas research paper shows that together with the decline in industrial action, there has been a rise in employment tribunal cases. In place of collective negotiation and representation within the workplace, perhaps we are moving towards a more individualised system where workplace issues aren’t collectively resolved but become the focus of individual complaints.

Towards an ideology of individualism?

As well as being potentially attractive to commuters facing a tube strike, it seems that the Queen’s Speech proposals are picking up where Thatcher left off (it was her government that introduced strike ballots in the first place, after all) and moving further towards an ideology of individualism. To me, however, protecting pay and conditions are something worth fighting for collectively. Or maybe that’s just my Red Clydeside roots talking …

By NASUWT, Apr 27 2015 03:06PM

March and Rally

Saturday 2 May 2015

Assemble: 12 noon Manzil Way, Cowley Road

Rally: 2pm Bonn Square

Speakers include: Megan Dobney (secretary, South & East Region Trades Union Congress), Roger McKenzie, UNISON assistant general secretary), Liz Peretz (Campaign to Close Campsfield), Living Wage campaign, Palestine solidarity

Trade Union Rights – Living Wage – Public Services, Not Private Profit – End Child Poverty – Solidarity Not Racism – International Workers Solidarity

By NASUWT, Mar 8 2015 07:43PM

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, is calling for an end to the exploitation of supply teachers, who are being denied their rights and entitlements on pay and working conditions by some unscrupulous supply agencies and umbrella companies.

Supply teachers attending an NASUWT supply teachers seminar today (Saturday) told how they were being denied the pay, working conditions and support to which they are entitled, with many being forced to sign exploitative contracts with umbrella companies which deny teachers their basic legal rights and entitlements.

Ahead of the General Election, supply teachers demanded that a future government introduce effective regulation of umbrella companies, which some supply agencies are using to exploit supply teachers and avoid paying tax and National Insurance, and also to act to prevent abuses of low pay and zero hours contracts.

A real-time electronic poll of supply teachers attending the conference found that:

Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they have seriously considered leaving the teaching profession in the last 12 months;

Nearly two-thirds (63%) say their work has impacted negatively on their health and wellbeing in the last 12 months;

More than four in ten (42%) say their job satisfaction has declined in the last 12 months;

95% do not think the government understands the needs of supply teachers and 82% do not think that the government values and respects supply teachers;

Over half (53%) have had no access to CPD in the last year;

Nearly a quarter (23%) say they often or usually have problems getting supply work or can’t get any at all.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Today’s poll shows that supply teacher members are routinely being denied the training and support to which they are entitled.

“Supply teaching is, by its very nature, often an isolating job but these figures show a worrying rise in stress and drop in morale.

“Supply teachers provide a vital resource to schools but all too often they are being exploited, often by unscrupulous supply agencies.

“Supply teachers are often unable to speak out about their treatment by some of these unscrupulous supply agencies due to threats of ‘blacklisting’.

“The next government must make good on promises to commit to tackling the exploitation of supply teachers and other agency workers to ensure that good employment practices, fair pay and decent working conditions are secured for all workers across the public education service.”