General Meeting 13th November 2013

posted 17 Nov 2013, 03:12 by general office   [ updated 30 Jan 2014, 03:28 ]

Nominations for London NUT executive elections

Jess Edwards and Martin Powell-Davis were nominated.

Motion on Pay Campaign

1  Islington Teachers Association congratulates NUT and NASUWT for making such a success of the regional strikes and rallies held jointly by the two unions against the attacks being made on us by the Coalition government as part of its drive to make working people pay the costs of an economic crisis that we did not create.


2 Recognises that the strikes we have held so far have been hard hitting and uplifting because they have united the majority of the teaching profession in action and that the actions taken so far, the greater strength of school groups and a continued campaign make it possible to similarly undermine Gove's next wave of attacks in the year to come. 


3. Welcomes the significant successes of the joint unions campaign in restricting the impact of Gove's attack on pay and conditions so far and the strengthening of union organisation and growth in union membership that have resulted from it.


4.     We note the Michael Gove is increasingly unpopular both across the profession and amongst parents.


5.       We believe that he is losing support for many of his initiatives and that sustained pressure from the trade unions to defeat his proposals on pay, pensions and conditions of service will help defend the whole education system.


6.  ITA regrets the decision by NUT and NASUWT leadership not to call a national strike this term.


7.       We call on the NUT and NASUWT to ensure that national strike action takes place before 13th Feb, unless there is a serious offer from Gove which:

(a) reverses the increases in pension contributions since April 2012 as well as any increase in the final pension age.

(b) maintains all current conditions of service elements in the STPCD.

(c) reinstates the national pay arrangements which existed prior to September 2013


8. Should Gove not have agreed to the above demands by its next meeting in December, we call on the NUT Executive to announce a date no later than 13th February for a national one day strike to be followed, if necessary with an escalating campaign of action. This action should preferably be taken jointly with the NASUWT but, if necessary, without them.

9.       We call on the Executive to seek to co-ordinate future strike action with other trade unions representing other groups of workers, especially those in the public sector, fighting to defend their pay, conditions and pensions as well as the public services used by working people and to put pressure on Labour to take a distance from the government as it has done with the Health Care Act and the Bedroom Tax.


Conference Motions

It was  agreed to submit the attached conference motions for inclusion in the preliminary agenda for NUT Annual Conference 2014 (see below)

Emergency motion-‘Action for Palestinian Children’

The meeting agreed to debate, and  carried, the following motion

Action for Palestinian Children

This association is deeply concerned by the resounding evidence of routine, systematic abuse of Palestinian children when they are arrested, detained and prosecuted by the Israeli authorities, most recently in the Children in Military Custody report by independent UK lawyers and UNICEF’s Children in Israeli Military Detention

We note that every year between 500-700 children are arrested, often at night, taken from their parents, usually blindfolded and tied, interrogated without an adult or lawyer present and many are transferred to Israel in breach of the 4th Geneva Convention.  We further note that many of these children are verbally or physically abused and the increase in the number of children being held in solitary confinement.

We welcome the initiatives that the national union has taken on this issue and affirm our support for the Union’s work to ensure that all children are treated in line with international law and human rights treaties.

We therefore agree to:

1. Endorse the Action for Palestinian Children’s pledge on Child Prisoners (text below)

2. Circulate the pledge and encourage our members to sign and circulate

3. Publicise and support the forthcoming tour by DCI-Palestine and an ex-child prisoner

4. Ask the Committee to donate £200 towards the cost of the tour.

A4PC Pledge

We, the undersigned, support the campaign by Action for Palestinian Children to ensure the rights of Palestinian children are upheld in accordance with international human rights treaties and international law.

We call on Israel to act immediately to implement these recommendations as a matter of urgency:

1.     An end to Israel’s nighttime raids and shackling of Palestinian children;

2.     Audio-visual recordings of all interrogations;

3.     Parents given the right to be present during questioning and the child’s right to access to a lawyer before their interrogation respected;

4.     An end to the transfer of children to prisons inside Israel in breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention;

5.     An end to the use of solitary confinement.

We further call upon Israel to implement, in full, all 40 recommendations made in the independent legal report, Children in Military Custody.

The following motion was carried 

Motion to Support the production of ‘Still the Enemy Within’ 
Next year will see the 30
th anniversary of the miners’ strike. We believe that the legacy of the strike has a direct relevance to today's struggles and the attacks the current government is making on working class people and their communities.

ITA therefore welcomes the fact that Bad Bonobo productions are producing a film, called ‘Still the enemy within.’ The documentary will tell the story of the miners strike through the voices of “Arthurs Army” – a group of miners who put themselves on the frontline of every major battle for a year to defend their jobs and communities.
We agree to make a donation of £250 towards the production of the film.




Defend School History and the Commemoration World War 1

NUT Conference notes:

1. The plans announced by the government to commemorate the start of World War 1,

2. The proposals such as the re-development of institutions such as the Imperial War Museum and to provide school visits to the battlefield memorials for 2 students from each school.

3. The failure of the Secretary of State’s highly personal plans to reform school history in 2013 after widespread opposition was mobilized by a range of groups including the Historical Association, the Royal Historical Society and the Defend School History group


NUT Conference believes:

i)          It is important children are educated about the events of the ‘Great War’ and their effects on soldiers, their families and future generations

ii)         Children need to have access to a range of different views about the war, using a wide range of evidence in order to ensure a rigorous and balanced account of the conflict

iii)         That there is a danger that government sponsored commemorations could fail to capture the breadth of experience and range of different viewpoints, lapsing in to jingoistic, xenophobic and nationalistic accounts of the war


NUT Conference instructs the Executive:

a)         To circulate advice about how to support education and debate about World War 1

b)         To encourage Divisions and Associations to support education and debate about the war, as well as holding, where possible, local events to remember those who suffered and died.

c)         To organise a national conference before July 2014 to debate issues raised by the commemoration of the war in conjunction with a range of historians, history organisations and the Defend School History group.

d)         To support and help organize as part of the CPD programme a study group visit for NUT history & citizenship teacher members to see the key sites in France & Belgium.

e)         To call on the government to ensure that commemorations are balanced and avoid encouraging jingoistic, xenophobic and nationalistic interpretations of the war.


Racism and Immigration

NUT Conference notes:

i)          The government’s plans to introduce a new Immigration Bill, which aims, in the words of the Home Secretary, to create “a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants”

ii)         That currently the new Bill is likely to include proposals to:

a)         extend powers to take fingerprints, check passports and intervene in weddings and civil ceremonies

b)         Impose a levy on the use of the NHS for time limited immigrants

c)         Impose checks on applications for bank accounts and driving licenses

d)         Reduce grounds for appeal form 17 to 4, following the imposition of a deport first, appeal later policy

iii)         The continuing campaign in the media, frequently backed by government spokespersons and political parties such as UKIP, against immigrants and making use of inaccurate ‘evidence’ to back up claims such as claims of ‘benefit tourism’ and the claiming of benefits

iv)        The continuing prevalence of Islamophobia, as seen in the reactions to the tragic murder of Lee Rigby by, for example, the English Defence League, who sought to whip up racial and religious hatred


NUT Conference further notes the tragic consequences of people’s desperation to migrate in, for example, the deaths of large numbers of migrants who drowned near Lampedusa


NUT Conference believes that the government’s proposals:

a)         Contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of racism and intolerance which will impact on both immigrants, legal and illegal, as well as on ethnic minority communities in this country;

b)         Extend the powers of the state to interfere in people’s private lives in a manner that is both demeaning and dangerous to civil liberties in this country;

c)         Put at risk the lives and well-being of children and their parents, and jeopardise their right to a decent education;

d)         Are likely to contribute to a poisonous atmosphere in the run up to the European and local elections in June 2014.


NUT Conference instructs the Executive to:

1.         work with the TUC and other unions to oppose the proposals in the Immigration Bill


2.         publicise our opposition to members, and to give members guidance on how to support children and their families threatened by these measures


The Crisis in Primary Education

Conference notes

i)          that the new National Curriculum for primary schools is due to be implemented in school in September 2014;


ii)         that this new curriculum is accompanied by a number of new policies surrounding the assessment of children, most notably, the scrapping of national curriculum levels and a move to measuring children against national averages.


Conference believes

a)         that the specifications made in the new curriculum for the tested subjects are over prescriptive;

b)         that the specifications made in the new curriculum make for a dangerously over-crowded curriculum,

c)         that the emphasis on the tested subjects will squeeze all other subjects,

d)         that the new curriculum encourages “teaching to the test”

e)         that the new curriculum is based on a “transition belt” model of learning,

f)          that the new curriculum is overly focused on rote learning rather than deep understanding,

g)         that childrens’ education will be harmed by a system that put ever more emphasis on targets and testing,

h)         that the proposed assessment arrangement will result in the majority of children feeling as though they are failures,

i)          that all children deserve a broad and balanced curriculum,

j)          that the new curriculum is not in line with the needs of children and will damage children’s educational experiences irreparably.


Conference instructs the executive to

1.         work with teachers, other unions and campaigns such as the Charter for Primary Education, the National Association of Primary Education, The Too Much Too Soon Campaign, the Save Childhood Movement and Early Childhood Action, to campaign for the withdrawal of the new Primary Curriculum,

2.         produce a document that publicises the union’s opposition to the new curriculum and send to all primary members,


Academies & Free Schools

Conference notes that:

1.  The Coalition’s flagship policy of opening ‘free’ schools regardless of local demand for school places and without the support of the whole education community in local areas is proving to be costly, wasteful and divisive. 

2. Whilst some free schools have succeeded, many have unfilled places and some have seen catastrophic failure in leadership due in large part to the absence of the requirement to employ qualified teachers

3. The Secretary of State Gove continues to use his powers to force 'failing' schools to become academies, handing them over to sponsors without democratic or transparent process and often against the clear wishes of parents.


Conference believes that:

1. Gove's reform agenda is remains motivated by ideological commitment to a "supply side revolution" and creation of a market of competing schools and has flies in the face of mounting evidence about how to improve school systems.

2. This privatisation and deregulation of education is contributing a sense of deep seated crisis in the education system and is failing to meet the basic demand for school places

3. The government’s attempt to create a new ‘middle tier’ is incoherent and wholly inadequate to the task required of it.


Conference instructs the national executive to:

1. Continue to oppose vigorously both forced and voluntary conversions and the creation of free schools by working with the AAA, parents and other stakeholders;


2. Call on the government to restore the role of Local Authorities as a ‘critical friend’ to schools offering support and challenge in raising standards;


3. Call on the government and opposition to commit to creating a new regulatory framework that demands a ‘level playing field’ between all schools – regardless of type – and to ensure that every child has a qualified teacher;


 4. To continue to support members in academies and free schools to ensure there is no undermining of national pay and conditions;


5. Continue its longstanding financial support for the AAA and other campaigning groups opposed to academisation and free schools as part of the wider National Campaign for Education.


Teacher Education

Conference notes that:

1.  Standards of education are being threatened by a serious and growing shortage of school places and an emerging crisis in recruitment to teacher training.

2. Parents should be seriously concerned not only that their child gets a school place but also whether they will be taught by a well-trained, qualified teacher.

3. The coalition government’s ‘School Direct’ policy, where responsibility for training teachers is transferred to schools, has only added to this crisis.

4.  The concerns that increasing numbers of teachers are leaving schools and, in some cases, the education system

Conference believes:

1. That teacher education works best when University-led initial teacher education works in partnership with schools.

2. That transferring responsibility to individual schools constructs a narrow apprenticeship model of teacher education, threatens to undermine any coherent approach to teacher supply and de-professionalises teaching.

3. This will damage a teaching profession which is sustained by the research-informed contribution of universities.

4. The Secretary of State for Education should take full responsibility for the emerging crisis in school places and teacher supply.   

Conference instructs the national executive to:

1. Call upon the Secretary of State to safeguard standards of education for children and young people by securing universities’ central role in the development of well-trained and highly-qualified teachers.

2. Publicise the possibility of a teacher shortage, combined with rising numbers of students entering the education system, and make the issue part of our campaign to defend the education system from government attacks

3. Work with parents, universities and other organisations to campaign for the restoration of a model of teacher education that commands widespread support in the profession, ensures a steady supply of teachers and offers a system of career long professional development that helps to retain and develop teachers of the highest possible quality.

4. Encourage Divisions and Associations to campaign locally to raise this issue with other local partners as part of its wider National Campaign for Education

5. Work at a national level to coordinate a dialogue with other education unions on this policy and formulate and publicise a joint position and campaign strategy


The economy

Conference notes that the attack on our pay, pensions and terms and conditions is driven by this government's attempts to resolve the economic crisis in the interests of the people who caused it.

Conference notes that the current government policy of cutting living standards and government investment at a time when the private sector will not invest has choked off the prospect of economic growth, ensuring:

i)         that the UK economy is now smaller than it was in 2008 and most people, particularly the poorest, are worse off, while the private sector is accumulating a mountain of cash (£750 billion in UK banks alone) not being put to productive use;

ii)         that the government's stated aim of eliminating the annual deficit in one Parliament will mean deeper cuts in school budgets if they are re-elected

iii)         that investment in schools has already been so badly cut that there is a shortage of primary places;

iv)        that essential investment in greening our society and reduce CO2 emissions is being postponed beyond tipping point;

v)         that the government's attempts to sustain support in this context involve the blatant racism of blaming immigrants for a crisis that the banks created which, along with rising levels of child poverty, will not have a good effect on community relations in our schools;

vi)        that parallel policies throughout Europe have led to similar results with the added dimension of tension between nations at different stages of development within the Euro-zone: with minor expansion in Germany and catastrophic collapse in Greece, leading to the growth of xenophobic parties and racist violence.

Conference therefore welcomes the DGB (German TUC)'s Marshal Plan for Europe, which rejects all the national, ethnic or religious stereotyping that has been used to divide us, which instead calls for:

a)         a 10-year pan-European investment programme to include all 27 EU economies.

b)         an annual level of investment of €260bn in the development of major cities, transport, infrastructure, broadband and education, with a particular focus on investment in renewable energy production and the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and by 80% to 95%  by 2050.

Conference notes that the DGB estimates that this would create 9 to 11 million new jobs. It rejects any notion that new investment must be ‘paid for’ by further austerity measures. Instead, it proposes a 3% wealth tax to start a European Future Fund, with new bonds paid for by the imposition of a Financial Transactions Tax.

The DGB further notes that, ‘those countries currently in financial crisis will not be able to implement a modernisation initiative like this one on their own. This is why we need joint efforts and new European institutions with stable and solid sources of financing”.

Conference recognises that this proposal is not the last word in this debate but supports its overall approach that any postive way forward in this crisis has to be international, redistributive and based on investment in sustainability.

Conference instructs the executive to

1.         urge the TUC to work with the DGB and other union federations to promote the adoption of this approach throughout the European labour movement

 2.        call upon candidates and parties standing in the Euro elections to support this call

3.         challenge the falsities of the mainstream economic narrative in our publications and pay campaign material