General Meeting 17th November 2015

posted 23 Nov 2015, 05:50 by general office   [ updated 30 Jun 2016, 05:49 ]

 Paris killings

1) ITA expresses its solidarity and sympathy with the people of Beirut, Baghdad, Kenya and Paris in the wake of Friday's horrific attacks.

    We reaffirm our support for Stand Up to Racism and our determination to resist all forms of racism and Islamaphobia

    We condemn the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for his refusal to join the clamour for escalation of war in the Middle East


2. National Executive election nominations

Jess Edwards and Alex Kenny for Inner London positions. 

Mandy Hudson for Disabled teachers’ Executive seat. 

Annette Price for LGBT teachers’ Executive seat. 


3.       NUT national conference motions

  Prevent 

Conference notes:

i)              that there exist long established and robust safeguarding procedures in schools to identify and protect vulnerable children or children at risk from harm.

ii)             that the Counter Terrorism and Security Act places a statutory duty on schools, colleges and local authorities to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being “drawn into terrorism”;

iii)            that Prevent training is being carried out in schools and colleges by a range of organisations including local Police Authorities as well as an unregulated range of NGOs and private training companies so as a consequence this training has been very varied in content and practice;

iv)            that there have been a number of high profile cases where young people have been wrongly referred to the police for comments made during class discussions; 

v)             that this strategy is being implemented against a background of increased attacks on the Muslim community and risks being used to target young Muslim people;

vi)            the conclusion by David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, that, "If the wrong decisions are taken, the new law risks provoking a backlash in affected communities, hardening perceptions of an illiberal or Islamophobic approach, alienating those whose integration into British society is already fragile, and playing into the hands of those who, by peddling a grievance agenda, seek to drive people further towards extremism and terrorism."

vii)           that the extension of the inspection framework has given Ofsted power to make judgements about  whether the curriculum actively promotes the  ‘’fundamental British values’’ of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

Conference believes that:

a) the statutory duty placed on schools, colleges and local authorities sits alongside a responsibility to ensure a safe space for children young people to explore their relationship with the world around them;

b) a key role of teachers and schools is to develop critical thinking skills in children and young people and that teachers should feel able to embrace opportunities to promote such developments within the classroom situation;

c) discussion in schools should take place in a spirit of openness and trust, with young people feeling safe in expressing challenge to ideas;

d) there is evidence that some of the expectations driven by the Prevent agenda and Ministerial speeches is undermining  the confidence of teachers and students to explore and discuss global issues;

e) the recommendation in the Bullock Report (1976), No child should be expected to cast off the language and culture of home as he (or she) crosses the school threshold” is as true today as it was in 1976;

f)  no student or pupil should fear that  the expression of opinion or exploration of ideas within the boundaries of the school’s equality and diversity policy and codes on harassment or abuse, will incur suspicion, reporting or sanction.

g) the meaning of “Fundamental British Values” is unclear and contestable and should be replaced with the principles of international human rights, and the values and goals enshrined in the UN convention on the rights of the child.

      h) there is a danger that implementation of Prevent could worsen relationships between teachers and learners, close down space for open  discussion in a safe and secure environment and             smother the legitimate expression of political opinion. 

Conference instructs the Executive to:

            i) call on the government to withdraw the Prevent strategy in regard to schools and colleges and to involve the profession in developing alternative strategies to safeguard children and identify risks posed to young people.

            ii) campaign for recognition of the principle that schools and colleges should ensure a safe space for children and young people to explore their  relationship with the world around them;

            iii) draw up guidelines for schools and colleges to address values,community cohesion and the advance of human rights through education.

            iv) work with other teacher unions, the UCU, NUS, civil liberties groups, faith groups and others.

            v) Issue further advice to members about Prevent and to support members and associations who raise concerns about the implementation or training where they believe this has:

a)         breached equality rights and principles

b)         encouraged the racial profiling of students

c)         encouraged the targetting or victimisation of students for reason of faith, culture or legitimate political expression;

            vi) encourage and support members and workplace representatives to monitor how Prevent is being implemented in their school/ college and to take collective steps to challenge and improve policies and reporting/curriculum practices where necessary;

            vii) work with classroom teachers to develop resources for teachers on teaching about difficult or controversial issues and consider providing CPD on this;

            viii) continue to inform members about the Union’s position on Prevent through union publications and via the website.

 

2.         Fair pay for individual teachers and for the whole teaching profession

Conference recognises the irrefutable evidence that the present Government’s treatment of teachers’ pay has enormously damaged the morale of the profession and is causing an intensifying recruitment and retention crisis.

Conference recognises that:

A.    All teachers have suffered a real terms decline in the value of their take-home pay of approaching 20% at any particular point on the pay scale since the beginning of the Coalition Government, as a result of pay freezes and increased pension contributions.

B.    In addition, employers are now being encouraged to treat the lower end of the Main Scale, rather than the top of the Upper Pay Spine, as the normal salary for an un-promoted teacher, with the Government seeking to give employers the right to bully teachers into giving up their entitlement to be paid on the Upper Pay Range.

C.    Some  Schools have also used the new opportunity they have been given to end any proper and transparent system of pay points and levels, and are holding increasing numbers of teachers back at salaries well below those that all teachers could previously expect to achieve. Real terms cuts to school budgets are accelerating this trend.

D.    Meanwhile housing costs accelerate at a rate whereby it is unaffordable for teachers to rent, let alone buy, a house in growing areas of the country.

E.    As a consequence, teaching is ceasing to be an occupation that will meet the aspirations of a well-qualified graduate.

Conference believes that there has to be a new start for teachers’ pay. It therefore instructs the Executive to seek from the Government:

1. An end to the pay freeze and a plan to restore, over a fixed period of time, the real value of all teachers’ salaries;

2. The restoration of mandatory pay scales and responsibility payments for all teachers whose employment is publicly funded, including those in academies, free schools and sixth form colleges;

3. The restoration of national pay bargaining;

4. An end to the current system of so-called “performance related pay” that has been so arbitrary and so destructive of teacher morale; and

5. A combination of a living wage and affordable housing that will allow teachers to live in London and the fringe areas, this proposal arising from Union consultation with members in these areas.

Conference further instructs the Executive that in addition to putting these proposals to the Government and the School Teachers Review Body it should:

i.              Seek support for them from all other parties representing England and Wales in Parliament and report to our members on their responses;

ii.             Involve our members in a campaign to convince the general public that our pay demand is reasonable;

iii.            If no progress is made in talks with the Government on agreeing and implementing these proposals, campaign for and, when there is the necessary support, ballot for a national campaign of strike and non-strike action, seeking the involvement of other teaching unions and non-teaching unions as appropriate,;

iv.            target employers, whether they be local authorities, academy chains or individual schools, who produce unreasonable or unfair pay policies or use their policies in unreasonable and unfair ways, including naming and shaming them where necessary

v.             Give full backing, up to and including strike action, to members where individual employers or schools operate unacceptable pay policies that do not meet the requirements of the NUT checklist; and

vi.            Continue through our Stand Up For Education and other campaigns to emphasise the negative consequences for the education of children of restrictive and divisive pay policies

 

3.         Climate Change

The National Union of Teachers recognises the following

1.     Keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees C or below is essential if human civilisation is to be sustained and there is to be a future for our children.

2.     Doing so requires sharp cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions on a very rapid timescale.

3.     This requires 75-80% of known fossil fuel reserves to be left in the ground.

4.     The technology exists to make a transition to a sustainable carbon neutral society with gains in living standards for the majority of humanity at an annual cost little greater than the current cost of annual fossil fuel subsidies, but this is incompatible with high levels of inequality and a society based on aspiration for luxurious lifestyles.

5.     That growth will have to be primarily in those areas of the economy that enable this transition to take place.

6.     The world’s wealthiest countries will have to make cuts in emissions of 8-10% a year (on top of those made by exporting manufacturing and related pollution to China and other countries).

7.     Governments will have to put our economies on a war footing and take charge of necessary investment in sustainable energy, transport and urban planning because the private sector is not doing what is necessary.

8.     This will not happen while the needs of our planet and our civilisation are held to ransom by the short-term profitability of the fossil fuel industries.

9.     This has profound implications for the structure and content of our education system, both in terms of content and values.

Conference instructs the executive to call for:

1.     A national plan for the most rapid possible transition to a carbon zero economy, including an immediate reversal of the current governments withdrawal of support from wind and solar energy.

2.     The most rapid possible retrofitting of all school buildings to make them as carbon neutral as possible (as part of a concerted plan for all publically owned buildings).

3.     An end to restrictions on solar panels by heritage considerations.

4.     A re-examination of the curriculum to put sustainability and the values of a sustainable society at the heart of it.

5.     An immediate abandonment on fracking domestically and an embargo on the import of any fracked gas or tar sand oil from any other country.

6.     The most rapid possible transfer of fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy generation and the phase out of coal power without CCS by 2023.

7.     The most rapid possible socialisation of power generation.

 

Conference further instructs the executive to:

1.     Negotiate with DFE on a new curriculum and seek support from other education unions.

2.     Convene a working party of all interested teachers to work with relevant campaigns, like FOE, Greenpeace, Campaign against Climate Change, to find all the aspects of the current curriculum that can be developed to draw out a sustainable content and to examine those areas or values that need to be challenged and changed and produce model alternatives; making 2016-17 the year of the Green Curriculum.

3.     Work with these campaigns on developing termly themes that link educational content with active citizenship and encourage our members to push them in schools.

4.     Encourage union bodies at all levels to support national and local demonstrations and campaigns against fracking and climate change, negotiate with local authorities to make our schools carbon neutral solar power stations and press governing bodies to adopt a green school plan of action.

5.     Take this issue up with other unions through the TUC, our international counterparts bilaterally and through Education international, supporting initiatives like the German TUCs Marshal plan for Europe.

6.     Affiliate to the campaign against climate change (constitution appended).

 

4.         Supply Teachers

Conference reaffirms its support for the continuation of the NUT Teachers Supply Network

Conference notes:

1.     That supply teachers are on the receiving end of relentless poor publicity and negative judgement from the national media.

2.     That the majority of supply teachers are employed by private agencies and are paid well below the Teachers' Pay Scale and are not allowed into the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

3.     That supply teachers are increasingly employed on long term contracts with no access to sick pay, maternity pay, holiday pay, and subject to dismissal without notice. Constituting a hidden privatised layer of teachers in our schools

4.     That supply teachers have less chance of being employed full time due to prohibitive agency transfer fees. These exorbitant ‘finders’ or introduction fees are charged by agencies, amounting to four or five figures, create a barrier to finding permanent or long-term employment.

5.     That agency staff are often required to pay for CPD themselves out of their already unacceptably low pay.

6.     That many NQTs work for up to five years as a supply teacher. If they are unable to find a post suitable for induction, they are forced to leave the teaching profession.

7.     That there is confusion in some local authorities over the eligibility of agency supply teachers to undertake NQT induction on a long-term cover assignment.

8.     The change in agency worker regulations that allow agency workers to break strikes

9.     The lobby of teacher supply agencies organised on Oct 26 by the Teacher Supply Network and the NUT.

 

Conference believes:

1.     That the NUT should campaign with local governments to establish a central supply register, publicly accountable, non-profit making, paying to scale, accessing TPS so that schools can hire supply teachers directly based on the Northern Ireland model.

2.     This should be a key campaign for the NUT.

3.     That divisions and local associations should elect a supply teacher representative.

Conference instructs the executive to:

1.     Campaign for a central supply register

2.     Support members in organising further action around supply such as national and local lobbies of supply agencies.

3.     Ensure the NUT provides regular training for supply reps and activists

4.     Organise an annual weekend event at Stoke Rochford for supply reps in addition to the Supply Teachers' Conference.

5.     Collect, monitor and analyse statistics relating to the number of NQTs registered as supply teachers who leave the profession.

6.     Campaign against the excessive introduction fees charged by agencies.

7.     Seek clarification at a national level over the position, and entitlement to induction, of supply NQTs employed on long-term cover through agencies.

8.     Offer training to caseworkers and supply teacher officers/reps in supporting NQTs working as supply teachers.

9.     Encourage local associations to make contact with newly qualified supply teachers to evaluate what support they may need.

10.  Offer and promote training to support NQTs who are working as supply teachers.

 

5.         Sixth Form Colleges

Conference is alarmed by a report from the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) that says that government funding cuts will mean that as many as 4 out of 10 Sixth Form Colleges (SFCs) may cease to be financially viable within five years.

Conference understands that SFCs have been subjected to budget cuts of around 25% since 2010, Further cuts of around 10% are expected to be announced this year.

Conference recognises that the impact of these funding cuts in the SFC sector has been extremely deleterious, with respect to both educational provision to students and members’ workload. For example, the large majority of A-level students are now only studying 3 subjects in their first year, rather than four, which narrows the breadth of their education as well as leading to job losses. As a result of these cuts, many SFCs are struggling to maintain financial viability.

Conference is alarmed that the DfE and BIS are carrying out a programme of “area-based reviews” of post-16 provision that will focus on Further Education (FE) and SFCs. The aims of the reviews include moving towards “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers.”  The obvious threat is that this will increase the pressure on FE and sixth form colleges towards merger. This will result in fewer SFCs and worse conditions of service for SFC members. This will also result in worse provision for students; FE colleges and SFCs serve different needs.  These reviews are intended to cover every area of the country by March 2016. 

Conference is concerned that the process has the aim of levelling pay and conditions downwards and is driven by a desire to cut costs rather than improve the quality of education. FE colleges have already been subjected to a succession of cuts and a worsening of pay and conditions. Furthermore, school sixth forms, academies, University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and ‘free’ SFCs are not included in these reviews.

Conference is very concerned that the reviews threaten the future of many SFCs. They come in the context of the huge cuts to 16-19 education and the clear danger is that they are a money saving exercise to cover up the damage done already to 16-19 education.

Therefore, Conference instructs the Executive to:

a.   Continue its campaign of opposition to funding cuts to SFCs;

b.   Make its campaign of opposition to the threat of area-based reviews a strategic priority;

c.   Spare no effort in publicising widely the negative impact on students’ education of the area based Reviews;

d.   Consult meaningfully with members in SFCs about national action, up to an including strike action, to campaign against the threat to the SFC sector posed by area-based reviews;

e.   Support NUT and UCU members, up to sustained strike action, in colleges in which pay and conditions are adversely affected by the outcomes of area-based reviews or in which current pay and conditions are not sustained;;

f.   Send messages of support to support staff experiencing job losses and changes to their terms and conditions.

g.   Work with NUS, NAS, ATL, UCU and UNISON to highlight the crisis in the SFC sector.

 

6) The European Union

Conference notes

1.     That the government is committed to holding an in/out referendum on  Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.

2.     That the referendum will be based on a package of changes to the terms of Britain’s membership negotiated by the Conservative government.

Conference believes

1.     That we should oppose all forms of racism and attacks on migrants - that our stance should be refugees and migrants are welcome here.

2.     That we should stand for internationalism and solidarity with struggles by workers and against all forms injustice across all borders – whether inside and outside the European Union.

3.     That the European Union has nothing to do with internationalism, justice or democracy.

4.     That the European Union was from its foundation an organisation pushing the agenda of big business across Europe.

5.     That with successive treaties and unaccountable new institutions – from the Single European Act to the European Central Bank- the EU has hard wired into its nature the enforcement of neo-liberal policies of privatisation, marketisation and austerity.

6.     That vicious racism is built into the foundations of the European Union – with free movement within the EU for those with the right passports being built on murderous racism towards our brothers and sisters from the rest of the world.

7.     That any changes Cameron’s government negotiates with the EU will bring more privatisation, marketisation and racism.

8.     That Cameron and his government will be campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU on these new terms, and a vote to stay in will strengthen Cameron, Osborne and their racist and austerity agenda.

9.     That if progressive forces line up behind Cameron and help him win the referendum they will do a great disservice to working people.

10.  That we should recognise the danger of leaving opposition to the European Union, and Cameron’s referendum package, to those motivated only by reactionary “Little England” chauvinism or downright racism – including sections of the Tory right and UKIP.

11.  That we should therefore actively seek to work with the widest possible progressive forces to build a different, progressive, anti-racist, internationalist campaign against the EU, against Cameron’s package and for a vote against Britain’s membership of the EU neo-liberal big business club

12.  That such a campaign should have as its key themes: No to racism – inside and outside the European Union; Yes to internationalism-solidarity across all borders; Defend public services- no t to privatisation; No to the European Union – Another Europe is Possible.

13.  That under no circumstance should such a campaign have any truck with, joint work with or share any platforms with forces which espouse any form of racism – including Ukip.

14.  That were such a progressive campaign to be built and were Cameron defeated in his referendum it would be a near fatal blow to his government and would bring nearer the day when it was swept from office.

Conference instructs the executive

To actively seek out potential allies in the trade union and progressive movements urgently to try to build such a movement

 

4.       Islington Teachers Association elections

 Dave Gilchrist  elected interim President, pending annual branch elections. 

Mike Govender elected interim Climate Change Officer, pending annual branch elections.

 

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