Executive Report May 2018
Date: 16 May 2018 No: 235
JOINT GENERAL SECRETARY’S REPORT
The Executive received a full list of the speeches, visits and external engagements undertaken by the Joint General Secretary and the national Officers. The JGS reported on the following:
Donald Trump – USA President’s UK Visit; a reminder of the Conference commitment to support mobilisations against Donald Trump’s Presidential visit to the UK, which was estimated to be on Friday 13 July 2018; Discussions regarding the details of those demonstrations would take place before the event;
The Joint General Secretary attended and spoke at the well received, Stand up to Racism demonstration at Parliament on 30 April. Also on the platform were Labour’s David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott. In his speech the Joint General Secretary conveyed the statement passed by the Executive at its last meeting including the demand for compensation to those affected with the inclusion of damages. The JGS described the policy of hostility to illegal migrants as deplorable and acknowledged the difficulty of distinguishing between and the inevitably impact on all migrants and people of colour. He said that the Union had been happy to be part of a school’s campaign against borders for children, which had challenged – and reversed – the policy that required headteachers to collect data on children’s nationality.
Anniversary of the Grenfell Fire Tragedy
The Joint General Secretary noted that the anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy, 14 June, coincided with the next Executive meeting and invited Executive members to remain after the meeting to participate in Union activities to mark the occasion.
Oral Evidence to the Education Select Committee about Alternative Provisions
The Joint General Secretary gave oral evidence to the Education Select Committee and noted the advantage of having good allies on the Committee, such as Labour’s Emma Hardy, MP for Kingston-Upon-Hull West and Hessle and Thelma Walker, MP for Colne Valley. The Joint General Secretary expressed the Union’s desire for high quality, well-funded alternative provisions, with teams including skilled teachers trained in behaviour management. He said that the aim should be on re-integration wherever possible, and expressed the Union’s concerns about excluded children and the increased levels of children being sent to alternative provision and the factors driving this increase.
The Joint General Secretary attended the Pearson AGM as part of an international lobby, where trade unionists assembled outside for a high profile demonstration. The JGS fielded a question on their investment in the Bridge International school chain and received slick and well prepared answers. Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director of Education International also made some excellent interventions during the AGM. It was hoped that Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General, Wilson Sossion and some Kenyan politicians would attend the AGM, but due to internal challenges in the KNUT and the complications of that, they were unable to be present.
The Joint General warned that Pearson’s investment in artificial intelligence to develop marking programmes and their intention pull out of British schools and operate in the digital AI world was a huge threat to teachers. While technology could be profoundly liberating, it could also be used by some people to downgrade the job of a teacher instead of giving us the tools to do the work.
Early Years Education and Schools’ Policy Commission
The Joint General Secretary gave evidence at Labour’s Early Years Education and Schools’ Policy Commission on the role of staff in the National Education Service. The evidence, which was well received, focused on the scale of the teacher recruitment and retention crisis and the drivers for this, notably accountability and assessment pressures.
The Joint General Secretary noted the work being done with Jack Dromey, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, on early years’ funding; and the fact that the general funding campaign would be very important, given that the Comprehensive Spending Review was due to be published in 2019. The STRB Report was imminent and the JGS speculated that it could be much like the last one, with a slightly more than 1 per cent increase on the main pay spine and no funding for it. This year 60 per cent of local authorities had recommended a 2 per cent increase on the main pay spine, 40 per cent had not and the Union had taken action in some areas over it. The Joint General Secretary warned that this gap could only grow if the STRB report recommended a similar pay increase.
The Union had been waiting for some new signs from the Government on workload. Although not expected to transform the situation, the Joint General Secretary was mindful of how it could be used both in local campaigns and to highlight the Government’s failure to address workload nationally.
Action – The Avenue Primary School
The Joint General Secretary welcomed two successful outcomes in the London Borough of Newham, the fantastic news after 19 days of strike action, that the Governors at the Avenue Primary school had overthrown proposals to become an academy and the fact that the newly elected Mayor had confirmed that she would implement the Labour Council’s policy that all schools proposing to move to academy status would be subject to ballots of parents and staff.
The President reminded the Executive that we were hoping and planning for a large cohort of NEU members joining the march on 12 May behind our massive new NEU ‘Invest. Don’t cut’ inflatable which will be getting its first outing. We want to get a huge crowd of teachers, as well as parents and supporters, together to demand A New Deal for Education. The march will form up from 11am on Embankment and our members will be welcomed by Philipa Harvey NUT Section Past President, Niamh Sweeney, ATL Section President and Mary Bousted before moving off at midday and ending with a rally in Hyde Park.
The Executive were notified that TUC have altered the deadline for submission of delegate details to the TUC bringing the date forward from the end of July to 4 June.
The delegation to the TUC would be composed of ATL section and NUT section members, the latter as follows:
- a) Officers of the Union;
- b) five members of the Executive (elected by the Executive);
- c) the chairpersons of relevant committees if not part of the representation under a) or b), the relevant committees to be SFC (Jerry Glazier) SSECR (Heather McKenzie), E&E (Alex Kenny) and O&M (Roger King);
- d) any member of the Executive on the General Council if not part of the representation under a) or b);
- e) one NUT representative from each of the four TUC equality committees, if not part of the representation under the above categories; Annette Pryce, Mandy Hudson, Daniel Kebede and Heather McKenzie; and
- f) ten representatives from the regions and Wales, including two from the London region (the intention being that consideration continues to be given to the former east/west separation);
- g) General Secretary, relevant officials and staff
The Executive elected the following members to attend Congress:, Marilyn Bater, Dave Harvey Robin Head, Gawain Little, Beth Purnell and Jackie Baker (substitute).
TUC WOMEN’S GOLD BADGE AWARD
The Executive agreed to nominate Louise Regan for the TUC Women’s Gold Badge award and to put this forward to the JEC in May.