Demonstration against Pearson and Bridge International

On Friday 4 May 2018, the National Education Union demonstrated outside the Pearson Annual General Meeting (AGM) to protest against the corporation’s investment in so-called Low-Fee Private Schools provider Bridge.

Bridge is one of the largest education for-profit companies in the world, with plans to sell basic education services directly to 10 million fee-paying students throughout Africa and Asia by 2025. Bridge’s business plan is predicated on the employment of unqualified staff delivering a highly scripted, standardised curriculum in substandard facilities. These are cost-cutting techniques aimed at minimising operational costs in order to maximise profit. In both Uganda and Kenya Bridge schools have been ordered to shut because of the company’s neglect and disregard for national legal and educational requirements.

In 2017, Bridge commenced legal proceedings against the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and its General Secretary, Wilson Sossion, in an attempt to silence an international campaign aimed at exposing their business practices. In 2016, Bridge fabricated allegations against a researcher in Uganda, Curtis Riep, resulting in his arrest.

In addition to Pearson, Bridge is also supported by, among others, the World Bank, UK Government’s CDC, US Government’s OPIC and billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

The National Education Union is protesting against Pearson’s investment in Bridge, condemning the corporation’s support for a company that exploits the aspirations of some of the world’s poorest parents and their children for profit. The National Education Union is asking Pearson shareholders to ensure that the company stops backing Bridge.

Commenting on the demonstration, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Every child has the right to a free, high quality education, with trained teachers and a safe learning environment. Bridge exploits this right for profit, and in the process delivers a sub-standard education that deepens inequality in the communities it ‘serves’. Pearson’s investment in this exploitative business model is wholly indefensible.”

The National Education Union is an amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT), formed on 1 September 2017. Both unions have a history of opposing the privatisation of education both nationally and internationally.

The National Education Union was joined at the demonstration by Education International, the global teacher trade union federation representing more than 32 million educators, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).


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NEU comment on Damian Hinds’ speech

Commenting on the Education Secretary’s speech, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Whilst a clarification of the differing roles of Regional Schools Commissioners and Ofsted in school accountability is useful, and schools will welcome this clarity, it isn’t enough. Overlapping and confused accountabilities are one problem – and this goes some way to address this. But even when RSCs and Ofsted have got back in their respective boxes, the high-stakes nature of school accountability, based on measures including progress 8 which discriminate against schools educating disadvantaged pupils, remains.

We welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to supporting our newest teachers, through focused training and mentoring. His guarantee of the needed funding to deliver this additional work in schools recognises that recruitment and retention of teachers is a vital investment for this government, particularly in light of the teacher supply crisis. Sabbaticals are a good route for professional development for some, but it mustn’t divert attention away from the need for a career-long programme of training for all.

The National Education Union has told the Government that additional time and funding for development, rather than tinkering with the timing of the teacher qualification, is key to making the profession more attractive and it is right that Ministers have listened. We’ve some way to go, with the outstanding school funding and workload challenges to face, but today’s announcement is a start and a win for professional judgement.”


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Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, comments on plans announced today by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education.

“Education in our country is facing real problems – mental health issues for our children, a growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis, and huge funding cuts. This Government seems to have no idea how to tackle these problems and is simply recycling its same old failed policies.

“The grammar school corpse has climbed out of its coffin once again despite evidence of the damage that selective education causes. Once prior attainment and pupil background is taken into account, research shows there is no overall attainment impact of grammar schools, either positive or negative. (1) Furthermore, the attainment of grammar school pupils comes at the expense of those who don’t pass their 11-plus, with pupil attainment at secondary moderns in areas with a selective education system lower than that of their counterparts in comprehensive schools. (2)   Selective education systems are also linked with greater inequality in social outcomes later in life. (3)

“In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it therefore beggars belief that the Government has announced it will plough £50 million to expand the number of places at existing selective grammar schools.  Schools up and down the country are desperately short of funds. This is money that would be better invested in ensuring all schools could provide for the basic needs of their pupils without having to ask for money from parents.

“Expanding the number of unaccountable free schools will not solve the school place shortage. Instead, Government must return powers and funding to local authorities to enable them to plan and manage school places in a rational and cost-effective way. Schools must be accountable to communities, this is the only way we can avoid the academic and governance failures and school closures that have characterised the free schools programme to date.

“The retention of the 50% cap on faith admissions to free schools is welcome. While some parents may welcome the expansion of voluntary-aided faith schools, the Government should not confine plans to open new schools to this route. Many communities need new schools to cope with rising demand and taxpayer funded capital funding should be available to meet local need across the board. Local authorities are best placed to consult communities and determine the appropriate provision in their area.

“The experience of universities and independent schools working with the state sector to raise attainment has not been a positive one to date. This is another ideologically-driven initiative that lacks an evidence base to support it. The funding for this new ‘dedicated unit’ to promote such partnerships should be diverted instead to state schools which are crying out for the funding they need to educate their pupils and students.”



Editor’s Notes

1. Rebecca Johnes, Jo Hutchinson and Jon Andrews (September 2016), Grammar Schools And Social Mobility, Education Policy Institute. Summary available here:  Full report available at:

2. Freddie Whittaker (25 July 2016), ‘Fact-check: Do the arguments for new grammar schools stack up?’ Schools Week,

3. OECD (2016), Equations and Inequalities – Making Mathematics Accessible to All, OECD Publishing, Paris. p. 90.

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We want to start building up a list of schools where NEU members express their opposition to Baseline Testing and say that they do not want their school to take part in the 2019 pilot tests.


Please discuss this motion in your school group and inform the local NUT Office if you have passed it


This school group notes the government’s intention to replace KS1 SATs with a new Baseline test within the first few weeks of statutory schooling in Reception.

We note the following:

  • that the sole purpose of Baseline is not to support children in Reception, but to provide data by which schools can be held accountable seven years later at KS2.
  • Baseline tests were abandoned in 2015 as they were found to be unworkable. This followed a campaign of ‘4 too young to test’ and ‘Better without Baseline’.
  • Comments from previous providers, especially Early Excellence, who provided the greater part of Baseline Assessment in 2015, which describe the current proposal as “ideological and inept”.

We believe that the new plan to introduce a baseline, beginning with a voluntary pilot in 2019, is as wrong and flawed as it was in previous attempts.

This time there is no attempt to use an observation-based model and it will be a test overseen by the teacher or support staff.

We believe that this test will disrupt the settling-in process and place a workload burden on these teachers at the start of the year.

We welcome the decision of the NUT Conference to launch a high-profile campaign against Baseline testing and to link this to campaign against SATs.

We believe that if enough schools refuse to take part in the voluntary pilot in 2019 it will force the government to rethink its proposal.

We therefore agree to:

  1. i) ask our headteacher and governors to refuse to take part in the           Baseline pilot in 2019;
  2. ii) support and publicise the More Than A Score campaign.


School Name:  _____________________________________


Date of meeting:  ___________________________________


Number of members present:  ________________________



Once your school group has passed this motion please email .

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General advice for members – pay progression

The main rule is that there should be no surprises – if no concerns have been raised about your performance in an appraisal cycle then you should move up the pay spine.

In terms of agreeing targets at the beginning of a cycle they should not be aspirational but fair and achievable. The NEU disagrees with numerical targets.

More info at

Moving onto UPS and up UPS

The union view is that teachers should not be asked to gather reams of evidence themselves – the school should have lots of evidence of its own to inform decision making on this pay progression. Your pay policy might say something different …..

The union sees pay progression from M6 to UPS1 as a recognition of sustained performance we don’t believe that anything additional has to be done – however, the school might look for you to do something in addition to class teaching in exchange for the extra pay.

Take advice on this in good time from the advice line or us before applying or having a meeting with the headteacher – we are unable to provide urgent advice close to when a meeting is taking place – due to low hours of NUT time and pre-existing casework/meetings etc

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March for a new deal on Saturday 12th May


If we raise our voices together, we can rebuild a society that works. Join us this Saturday, 12 May in London – when we’ll be marching for a new deal for working people. #TUCNewDeal



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Event: Campaigning against academisation – how to turn the tide

Saturday, June 16, 2018, 1 – 5pm

The Wesley Euston Hotel & Conference Venue, 81-103 Euston Street, London, NW1 2EZ

Click here to register

Resistance against academisation has never gone away, but recent months have seen a sharp increase across the country in the number of strikes and campaigns against academisation and a renewed mood to bring all schools that have converted back under local democratic control.

With the idea of a National Education Service under a future Labour government, the issue of academisation must take centre stage.

We face an entrenched ‘education ruling class’ who have power and control over vast swathes of the education system. It will take a huge social movement of staff, parents and students to shift them.

This event, with speakers and workshops, will focus on why we must resist academisation and how we do that. There will be speakers from campaigns against academisation and from leading figures in education and the opportunity, through workshops, to share ideas and strategies.

Click here to register

Click on the image below to download the flyer

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Named: The 92 academy trusts with multiple staff on £100k+

Copied from Schools Week

Ninety-two academy trusts with multiple staff on £100,000 to £150,000 a year have been named by the government.

Data obtained exclusively by Schools Week shows the majority of trusts with multiple employees on this kind of salary are small. In fact, of the 92 trusts named today, 56 have fewer than 10 schools, and 11 have just one each.

However, the list also includes 19 trusts with 20 or more schools on their rosters. These include some of England’s largest academy chains, such as the Academies Enterprise Trust, Reach2, United Learning, Oasis, Delta, TKAT, Harris and Ark.

Click here for complete article

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Standing in the way of privatised education – the battle against academies in Newham

Standing in the way of privatised education – the battle against academies in Newham

An inspiring battle in east London has breathed new life into the fight to stop academies. Two socialist activists, Carolyn McGrath and Miriam Scharf, spoke to Socialist Worker about how the campaign was built – and how others can take up the struggle elsewhere

Pickets at Avenue school in Newham during a strike in March this year

Pickets at Avenue school in Newham during a strike in March this year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

UPDATE: This week teachers and parents at Avenue school in Newham won a victory in pushing back plans to turn their school into an academy. Meanwhile at Cumberland school, also in Newham, plans to turn the school into an academy went ahead. But the battle to stop academisation and defend education in all schools is far from over.

Carolyn McGrath, NEU union rep, Cumberland school, Newham:

I’ve been the union rep at Cumberland school in Newham for the last three or four years. It’s a large union group but it had been quite passive.

For instance, some years ago when I first came to the school there was a national strike and protest in London. At the union meeting the night before, I assumed that’s what people would be talking about. But people were talking about car park issues.

The school has been said to be “coasting” for the last few years. We were under pressure to improve and to look for intervention. And those interventions were always put into the framework of academisation. There was no alternative offered.

The union group lacked confidence. A third of the staff had left and new staff didn’t feel able to stand up. So when academisation was put on the table, people accepted it as a fait accompli.

We didn’t feel we had a leg to stand on. If you’re told you’re underachieving, your self-esteem drops as an individual and as an institution.

But as time went on, we felt that we should stand up for the rights of parents to have a say. And just because we’re “coasting”, we shouldn’t be pushed into a system that is not good for pupils.

Why should we accept being pushed into something that isn’t a solution? If schools in leafy boroughs can say we don’t want academisation, why can’t we?

Before the summer holiday the CEO of the trust that would run the academy came to speak to us. We’d been told that we shared the same ethos, values and philosophy, but it was clear that he didn’t.

Carolyn McGrath

Carolyn McGrath (Pic: Guy Smallman)

People questioned his attitude towards inclusion and other things. People were cynical about his insistence that things wouldn’t change, because we felt something needed to change. That was the whole point – supposedly.

Over the holidays he started changing his human resources policies at the other school he runs, Forest Gate. It’s the only school in an empty Multi Academy Trust. So people could see that the claim that nothing would change was hollow.

We were concerned about our conditions, the threat to inclusion and the impact of PFI. We believed that the coasting label was being used to bully the management of the school.

We went to the governing body in September during the consultation period, but we were ignored.


Because of our initial lacklustre response, we hadn’t offered an alternative. Ideally we would have jumped straight into a campaign, but that doesn’t happen when you’ve been eroded in the way that we had been.

So the union group slowly built up confidence and 32 of us voted to call for an indicative ballot.

I kept the doors open for other staff to come to our meetings. So when we said we were having an indicative ballot, Unison and GMB union members wanted to get involved.

Many of them joined the NEU to support the action and have been the backbone in many ways. Suddenly we grew from 32 to 98. And we’re now about 120. That made a big difference. We had a lot of meetings and we got very strong votes for strikes.

This isn’t like national strikes or demonstrations, when you know you aren’t going to get into trouble. It really requires people to put themselves on the line. It’s not easy.

The key change in Newham this year has been getting different people elected as union officers and reps.

I’ve been a member of the Socialist Workers Party since the early 1990s. It makes a difference because when something happens, you know where you have to stand and what you need to do. People have thanked me.

But when I called the first meetings, nothing happened. After the summer, when terms and conditions were being attacked, there was something concrete. So the number of people in the room was different, the conversations were different.

Staff at Cumberland are very committed and they care deeply about each other and the pupils. So when you put arguments about the community and the pupils, you’re talking to people who share those values.

Sometimes you don’t know how people feel. The first strike day I didn’t know who would turn up and every day it’s like that. But we’ve had between 30 and 50 people on the picket lines throughout.

All the way through, people have got stronger and more solid. People have found their voice.

Parents, workers and supporters during a strike rally in Newham

Parents, workers and supporters during a strike rally in Newham (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Having socialists in schools matters

Miriam Scharf, Newham NEU officer and campaigner with Newham Against Academisation:

The drive towards academies in Newham has been driven by education cuts. Our council started to abandon all services some time ago. And land values in Newham have been skyrocketing.

Anyone with an eye on the property market would only have to look at the land and see that it’s playgrounds, playing fields and schools. Academisation is a way of getting hold of that.

The council has been completely happy for schools to become academies. More of our schools started to be taken out of democratic control.

On the union side, we were letting it happen. Over the last 20 years our union in Newham has been far too weak. It has been dominated by right wingers who were happy keeping in with the employers, whether they were the local authority or academy trusts.

Two years ago we got a few more active people in schools and left wing people elected. And now we have a majority. We got more votes because of anti-academisation campaigns that had already taken place.

Having socialists in schools matters because we knew that strikes were the only way to stop academisation and we knew the potential. But we couldn’t prove that until the union committee changed. So over time we were building up a number of people who wanted things to be different in Newham.

In September I went to a union committee meeting and said I wanted to call a meeting against academisation. I was told by some officers that there was no point. But there were enough of us on the committee to vote for it.

For that meeting I asked Stefan Simms, an NUT divisional secretary from Ealing, to come because he’d already got strikes over academies going. He spoke and said you need two things – the union to strike and parents to support it.

I had ordered tea and coffee for 20 and we had 50 in the room.

Miriam Scharf

Miriam Scharf (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Some parents had been involved in a failed campaign against academies in July. They helped leaflet parents at schools, along with Labour Party members and socialists.

But we had no idea we were going to get such a good response.


After this meeting, I rang two key parents and we organised a meeting for the following week near their school so parents could get there.

We called it as Newham Against Academisation and the NEU, and we got 50 there just three local primary schools that were under threat. So we knew we were onto something.

The parent campaign last term was fantastic. It drew in other people. It lost at those three schools, but those parents remain totally engaged. So we have five key parents who have been to meetings at Cumberland, because their kids will be going there.

They have inspired union members by saying, ‘These are our kids and we want you to defend them’. They’ve helped leaflet other schools with us. And they speak different languages, so can reach more people.

The struggle at Avenue, led by the union rep and now Newham Teachers Association secretary, has been a major inspiration to everyone. The parents there have not only supported picket lines, organised petitions and attended meetings. They have also gone to the High Court to challenge the consultation process, successfully so far.

Another key thing is that the union nationally has recruited organisers. They went into schools that we identified as under threat and they recruited groups of union reps. They encouraged people to call union meetings and union groups to discuss academies.

Keir Hardie was won by parents working on the governors and the union group being prepared to strike. At the time they caved in a three-day strike was imminent. And they could see three-day strikes at Cumberland and Avenue.

Being rooted in your area helps too. For instance, in one school, someone told the head teacher about me and she asked me in to debate academies with a CEO.

We also had a retired head teacher on board who is very left and in the Labour Party. She and other campaigners, along with some anti-academy heads, are working on an alternative network of support for schools using Redbridge Education Partnership as a model.

The context to all this is the hope that people have in change. Our council is changing because the Labour Party is changing with Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership.

We’re all hoping our council changes. But our message as socialists is, without people fighting from the bottom for our services, they won’t deliver it.

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Anti-racists to march THIS SUNDAY demanding justice for the Windrush Generation – JOIN THE MARCH – details below

Anti-racists to march demanding justice for the Windrush Generation

by Sarah Bates

A protest for the Windrush Generation in Brixton, south London, last week

A protest for the Windrush Generation in Brixton, south London, last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists are stepping up pressure on the Tories as revelations show ministers’ contempt for the Windrush Generation, and home secretary Amber Rudd’s lies are exposed.

Rudd denied this week that her department had ever had targets for the numbers of people deported. She said she had “not approved, seen or cleared any targets for removal”.

Speaking in parliament, Rudd said she would “never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people.”

But just 24 hours later she was forced to backtrack and admit that some targets were used. Rudd has been forced to issue a series of grovelling apologies, each more snivelling and false than the last.

But this is borne out of fear for her own career trajectory—not out of genuine remorse for the Tories’ racist “hostile environment” for immigration policy. She admitted to journalists this week she was “just thinking about staying the game”.

And on Friday a Home Office leak showed that her department boasted they exceed their target of 12,800 “enforced returns” in 2017-18. Rudd and then immigration minister Brandon Lewis were both copied in to the memo.

Panicking Tories have said that all problems from the immigration status of the Windrush Generation will be solved in two weeks. But this is the same government that promised to rehouse victims of the Grenfell fire, some of whom are still living in hotel accommodation almost a year on.

The Windrush scandal presents a real crisis for the Tories. It has revealed the racism at the heart of their policies.

The Tories have always thought that attacking migrants and pushing racism would win them votes.

Now they find that millions of people are rightly revolted by what they have done.

Stand Up To Racism has called a demonstration on Saturday 5 May in London demanding justice after the Windrush scandal. Its demands include an end to deportations, no hostile environment for any immigrants—and Rudd must go.

And the day after, Sunday 6 May, will see a demonstration against the racist Democratic Football Lads Alliance who plan to march alongside fascist Tommy Robinson in London.

It will be a weekend of protest—against state racism and the racism on the streets.

The fight against racism and punitive border controls cannot start and end with the Windrush Generation. It must be part of a wider fight against the system that makes scandals such as this one possible and part of a battle for open borders.

Join the demonstration. March for Windrush, Saturday 5 May, 2pm, Downing Street, London. For details go here On Monday 30 April join MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbott in Parliament Square from 4pm as the Windrush petition is debated. Details here
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