An interesting conference with lots of interesting motions on topics such as: pay/housing, workload, excessive CEO pay in academies, the hijab in schools, curriculum, sexism, teacher and pupil well-being and baseline testing:
*Academies/privatisation – conference noted from the recent victories in Ealing/Newham and Greenwich that the academies programme can be defeated. We need more Sandowns (Isle of Wight) where an academy was turned back into a community school – the only example of this reversal so far.
*GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) we heard from Wilson from Kenyan Teachers’ Union about Bridge/Pearson – privatising and that one size curriculum delivered by non teachers in schools run for profit is not seen as a solution in Kenya (or in the UK)
*Excessive CEO pay in academies – we need to expose and challenge this money being given to a few people at the expense of the many. The CEO of Harris earns £440,000 a year plus benefits – in a time of cuts where teachers are buying Pritt sticks for their classes ….
*The Hijab – conference supported the right of girls to choose to wear or not wear the Hijab. This was in the light of Amanda Speilman’s comments. Conference strongly felt that it was not the place of The Office for Standards in Education to comment on this fuelling more Islamophobia at a time where it is growing.
Action points are given in the posts below, and despite it being an interesting conference, however, many delegates felt that the main outcome was the lack of immediate action in this academic year.
Industrial Action on pay/testing will not happen this year. The parents taking their children out of school tests – which will happen again this year as last year, will not have teachers taking action alongside them – although NUT members would be encouraged to support the parents in their action as last year.
Many delegates argued that with workload and stress increasing daily and with pay worth less month by month and with people leaving the profession in droves can we afford to wait another year to take national action? “Member surveys are not enough” stated members time after time.
The local elections are imminent so the key immediate focus will be on making school cuts once again central to the election. This will need all members to be involved – information to follow.
The future of the union – young teachers
Many young teachers made impassioned speeches to be more involved in their union and that must start locally, many asked about how the torch will be passed on. In Southwark we will need to double our efforts to get young teachers more involved and will need to look at campaigns as well as meeting/events etc. However the young teachers at the conference said that what got them involved were events for young teachers around campaigning – not just ones around social events.
This is particularly important at a time when many young teachers are leaving after a few years crushed under the weight of workload combined with decreasing pay year by year. Many young teachers spoke of staying on in the profession on account of being an important and involved part of a fight back on workload, pay and conditions to turn the job into something that they might want to do not just for the next forty/fifty years but for next academic year too. They want things to change and want to be part of the change.
We are looking for young teachers to attend the Young Teachers’ Conference in Coventry one weekend in early June – contact Southwarknut@gmail.com for more information.