General Meeting 25th June 2014

posted 26 Jun 2014, 04:29 by general office

a) Birmingham OFSTEDs 
Islington Teachers Association believes that the current ‘Trojan Horse’ story about an alleged ‘Islamic plot’ to take over Birmingham schools is being used by Michael Gove and the right-wing press as a way to fuel racism and Islamophobia and sow division in our communities.
Rather than report facts much of the reporting has been based on rumour, speculation and racist stereotypes. We have been told that schools under investigation had banned Christmas, that others had spent £70,000 on speakers to call children to prayer. Closer scrutiny proved such stories to be thoroughly inaccurate.
Similarly, the growing opinion that the ‘Trojan Horse’ dossier was a fake was systematically ignored in favour of racist scaremongering regarding alleged ‘extremism’. While Theresa May and Michael Gove have had their recent spat over ‘extremism’ in Birmingham schools, Ofsted leaked reports seem to show that inspectors found no evidence of ‘extremism’ being promoted or tolerated in any of the schools that were inspected. Yet some of the schools have been found to be inadequate anyway, for apparently not doing enough to combat the very extremism which Ofsted itself could not find evidence for. All of this will do nothing but disrupt pupils preparing for important examinations.
There are many necessary debates in the education - about academies and free Schools; faith schools; the curriculum; single-sex schools; school funding; the role of governance and more. We may have differing opinions on some of these issues, but we believe that the main issue now is the way that senior politicians and the media are using the Birmingham schools to continue an Islamophobic diatribe in the wake of UKIP’s success at the polls.
When Gove sends in a counter terrorism officer to investigate our schools, or when he writes in his book 'Celsius 7/7' that there is a battle taking place between “liberal values” and “resurgent totalitarianism”, he shows his own level of Islamophobia which has informed his intervention in Birmingham schools.
ITA stands with those at the sharp end of this racist witch-hunt - the schools, the communities, and the children. 

B) World War 1 Commemoration
Islington NUT notes:

1.    the Government's stated intention to treat the commemoration of World War 1 as a "celebration of the national spirit", "like the golden jubilee"

2.    that this is out of step with popular sentiment in this country, as shown by the strongly hostile response to an article promoting this line and attacking History teachers by Michael Gove in the Daily Mail, not only from a broad range of historians but also on that paper's website

We welcome the "No Glory" and Defend School History initiatives, which seek to commemorate the war without the distortions of patriotic tub thumping.

We agree to donate £100 to Defend School History

C) Motion on Marikana
Islington Teachers Association condemns the murder of 32 striking Lonmin miners in August 2012 by South African police in Marikana and endorses the view expressed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) that “what happened that day, similar to the 1922 Rand Revolt and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, marked a turning point in the social and political life of South Africa”.
We share the belief of NUMSA that “Marikana was a deliberate defence of mining profits and mining capitalists”. We consider that it is difficult to draw any other conclusion from the blatant collaboration, prior to the massacre, between the Lonmin bosses, government ministers and SA police, as revealed in the award-winning documentary Miners Shot Down, recently screened by Islington NUT.
We call on the NUT executive to endorse the following decisions contained in a motion carried at a Special Congress of NUMSA last December (2013):
1. To call for a full and impartial investigation of the causes of what happened in Marikana as the 11th National Congress of Cosatu had called in September 2012.
This investigation, unlike the Farlam Commission, would look not only at who pulled the trigger or who gave instruction to murder the workers in Marikana but would also investigate the root causes of the massacre such as the persistent migrant labour system and super exploitation of labour by capital in South Africa.
2. To call upon the South African government to make available all the necessary resources and requirements to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre, and more especially, accede to the demand for necessary assistance to the families of the miners and the injured miners and their lawyers.
3. To call for the dismissal of the Commissioner of Police, General RiahPhiyega.
4. To demand that all the politicians and individuals who are in complicity with the police and state in the murder of the Marikana miners be brought to book.
5. To demand that the mining bosses accept full responsibility for the deaths of all the workers on the mines, and that where appropriate, necessary prosecutions must follow.
6. To demand the immediate absolute dropping and withdrawal of police charges against all the arrested Marikana miners.
We also call on the NUT Executive to support the international Day of Action called by NUMSA in support of these demands on August.
We agree to donate £250 to the Marikana Support Campaign.

D) Pay and Conditions
Islington NUT  welcomes
the NUT executive's decision to call a National Strike on July 10th, which alongside  the decision by UNISON, GMB, UNITE, PCS and UCU to fight for an increase in their miserly pay offers, gives the prospect of the biggest national strike since Nov 30th 2011

ii) the prospect of further action with Health Service unions after their 1% recommended increase was turned down by the government
iii) the joint rally called by Islington public sector unions for July 2nd in the Town hall
 Calls for Reps to build this rally hold joint meetings with UNISON GMB and/or UCU in their schools.
 Further we welcome  the decision by Islington to amend its model pay policy to include the full 1% pay increase from September at all points on the scale.
 We Call on Reps and members to alert us if their school is consulting on an increase in the number of scale points or any variation from the Islington norm in the values of intermediate scale points.
 We Call on the national union to push for Reps in schools to monitor pay progression in their school (supplemented by a national e-system for schools without reps) by collecting details of who does and does not make progression and for local associations to collate this information and collectivise a respond to schools with a parsimonious pay practice.

Further we agree with the NUT conference decision that the union should "consult with members about a series of strikes through the autumn term and into 2015 - this should include putting the case for such action to members and consulting with them through random surveys and fact finding from divisions, associations and regional briefings.". 

We call on the executive, in upholding the conference decision, to carry out their responsibility in  'putting the case' with the necessary vigor.

Islington NUT notes 
·  The ongoing problems with heating and ventilation systems in several of the new BSF schools, which makes for a soporific and irritable learning environment and has led to complaints from staff and students alike. 
·  The unreasonable resistance to council approved ameliorative measures by the responsible contractor, Balfour Beatty, as well as an apparent reluctance to accept that there is anything structurally the matter with their system. 
·  The law states that temperatures must be reasonable and the World Health Organisation defines this as 24C.
Islington NUT resolves
·  To work with the local authority and school managements wherever possible to monitor air quality and temperatures and implement the ameliorative measures approved by the children's services health and safety committee.
·  To mobilise school communities (union groups, staff associations, parents, governors) to secure repairs to systems and/or changes to practice so that the learning environment is bearable.
·  To promote and implement union policy to support members and school groups prepared to refuse to teach in classrooms where the temperature is above 26C.
 To support this we will buy 100 NUT thermometers with minimum and maximum temperatures marked on them at £4 each for use in schools.

F) General Secretary Election
ITA agrees to donate £100 to Christine Blower's election campaign.