|February 01, 2019 | 19-004E|
The Government’s recruitment and retention strategy – published this week – was widely criticised as being insufficient to tackle the major problems of excessive workload and dwindling pay. Damian Hinds unveiled the plans to try to attract and keep more teachers in the profession, amid mounting concerns about staff shortages. While containing some interesting initiatives, the strategy fails to address the wider, systemic issues which drive up workload, such as the accountability regime, while limited action on pay will not increase teacher salaries across the board.
As part of the strategy, ministers are advising head teachers to push back against Ofsted if they think inspectors made unreasonable demands for paperwork during inspections. This is further evidence that, despite official guidance and many warm words from the schools watchdog, Ofsted itself acknowledges that unacceptable practice continues. We are asking members – including heads – to let us know of examples of where inspectors ask for teachers to provide things which the guidance makes clear are not required. Please encourage members in schools which have recently been inspected to do this.
Meanwhile, a separate DfE report found that, while most heads say they have taken action to cut workload following guidance by the DfE and Ofsted – such as reducing or changing planning or marking policies – more than two thirds of leaders (68%) and almost half of teachers (47%) say these activities have not made their workload more manageable. The results, from the School Snapshot Survey from last summer, suggests actions taken by schools are not effective, again pointing to the wider drivers of workload which need to be addressed.
In another blow to recruitment and retention, in his submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) this week, Damian Hinds said a 2% pay rise for teachers this September is all that is “affordable nationally”. The STRB is currently taking evidence on what pay rise should be recommended. His comments came days after NEU, along with ASCL, NAHT and Voice, submitted a joint pay claim for 5%, saying this is appropriate to begin to address years of real-terms pay cuts.
Hinds’ submission was widely condemned by unions as “derisory” and “disgraceful”, placing huge shackles on what the independent review body can recommend when it reports in the spring.
His comments were made on the same day that we revealed the results of our latest pay survey, of 34,000 teachers, showing huge levels of dissatisfaction with pay. The survey showed 70% of respondents are thinking of leaving the teaching profession due to poor levels of pay or the PRP system. A growing number of teachers who were denied pay progression reported being told that this was due to funding shortages (19%, up from 17% in last year’s survey and 15% the year before).
Among teachers turned down for progression, the most common reason given was failure to meet objectives for pupil progress, cited by 32% of respondents. This is contrary to the recent report of the Workload Advisory Group, which says objectives and performance management discussions should not be based on teacher-generated data and predictions or solely on the assessment data for a single group of pupils.
This week we have written to NEU members who are school governors, asking them to get involved in the forthcoming National Governance Association (NGA) week of action. As part of the week – Funding The Future, from 25 February to 2 March, governors are being asked to lobby their local MP by inviting them to their school, by visiting their constituency office or by taking part in a national lobby of Parliament on 28 February. Please make sure teacher governors in your area know about this week of action and urge them to take part, along with fellow governors and head teachers.
Meanwhile, the school funding petition set up by a group of head teachers in Gateshead is approaching 56,000 signatures. Please continue to do all you can to promote this among members, to try to force MPs to debate the issue.
NEU oral evidence to Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
The NEU’s Mark Langhammer, Jacquie Reid from UTU and Gerry Murphy from INTO were in Westminster to give oral evidence at a hearing of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s school-funding inquiry on 9th January 2019. NEU-UTU-INTO had made a detailed submission to the Inquiry on school funding, which is available here.
As schools are invited to sign up to take part in this September’s pilot of the reception Baseline Assessment, campaign group More Than A Score (MTAS) is protesting against the test.
MTAS is asking parents and teachers to take part in a Chalk Protest to raise awareness of these absurd assessments, testing children within weeks of starting school and using the results to judge schools against each other. Parents, teachers, heads and experts all agree that testing four-year-olds makes no sense, yet the Government plans to spend £10m on the scheme.
It’s easy to take part in the protest. Just chalk the message “Play Not Tests at 4” on a pavement or playground near you, take a photo and upload it to social media, using the hashtags #PlayNotTestsAt4 and #morethanascore
Meanwhile, the MTAS petition against Baseline continues to gather signatures and has now passed 40,000: please continue to encourage members and parents to sign it.
The phone number for the NEU AdviceLine is 0345 811 8111.
This is the number that should be provided to all members. Please could all officers and reps check their email signatures to ensure that the correct number is provided. Please note that all other phone numbers for the NEU AdviceLine are out of date and should be removed
Please find below details of forthcoming action*. You are encouraged to send messages of solidarity to the email addresses below:
|Galliard Primary School / Enfield
(Transfer of Employer)
|Wednesday 6 February
Thursday 7 February
|Susan O’ Shea
|Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1 College/ Leicester (Restructure)||Wednesday 6 February||Toni Bennett
|Shenstone Lodge / Sandwell
|Wednesday 6 February
Thursday 7 February
* Details of strike dates are correct at the time of writing so will not include any details of suspended action received after that time.
Annual Returns: Forms 102 & 103
The Finance Department are still missing Forms 102, 103 and a copy of the bank statement(s) showing the balance(s) at 31 December 2018 from approximately 60 former NUT Associations and Divisions. This information is a crucial part of the year-end consolidation process. If your former NUT Association’s/Division’s forms have not been submitted to the Finance Department, please could they be returned no later than 8 February.
Please contact Nikheel Channa at Nikheel.Channa@neu.org.uk with any questions.
UN Anti-Racism day 16 March
Please raise awareness and encourage members across your district to take to the streets on UN Anti Racism Day. There will be demonstrations on the day in London, Cardiff and Glasgow.
From Trump in the US, right across Europe and back to Bolsanaro in Brazil the racist and fascist right are on the rise. It is vital that while the likes of Steve Bannon are trying to link up the far right on an international scale, we build the links between anti-racists and anti-fascists across international borders.
For more information please visit here.
The historic parliamentary defeat of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Bill only strengthens growing concerns around the consequences of a no-deal or bad deal Brexit on the education sector, with data suggesting this government has relied on foreign nationals to fill gaps left by chronic staff shortages. In order to humanise and centre discussion on how this will impact in the classroom- we are looking for EEA national members or UK nationals living in EU member states to take part in a short film and ultimately feed into a guidance document. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can know of any members that would be keen to help!
Proposed increase to the employers’ contribution to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS)
Proposals to significantly increase employer contributions to the TPS is an immediate and real threat to the terms and conditions of NEU members in the independent sector from September 2019. Some independent schools will withdraw from the scheme; others will curb other spending, including pay. Click here to read a full briefing, including what members can do about it.
Applications open for international guest hosting
Applications are now open for branches, ISOs and members who would like to act as hosts for an international guest at Annual Conference. The role of host may include accompanying guests to appropriate fringe/breakout/CPD events, holding meetings with your delegation and arranging one or more evening meals with them, but is very flexible. This is an excellent opportunity to make a strong, lasting and fruitful connection with an international colleague. Click here to download an application form. The deadline for applications is 3 March 2019.
Turkey: Fighting for democracy under authoritarian rule
10.00-17.00, Saturday 9 February 2019
NEU HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD
The third annual Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT) Conference provides an opportunity to hear from those who have seen and experienced the reality of life under Erdogan’s authoritarian regime and invites you to find out more about what the campaign is already doing to build international solidarity and call to account both the Turkish state and the complicity of our own government. Click here for more information and to register. Download the conference flyer here.
Support Staff Conference
Saturday 2 March 9.30am-4.00pm
NEU HQ, Hamilton House, London WC1H 9BD
You can now book your place on the 2019 NEU Support Staff Conference – but hurry – places are limited. The conference is FREE for NEU members to attend, and reasonable travel expenses to and from London will also be paid.
Please visit the website for further information, workshop details and a full programme of the day.
On Wednesday, the window for submission of evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body closed. We made a joint statement with NAHT, ASCL and Voice calling for a 5% increase across the board (Press Association, Morning Star, Schools Week), released our own pay survey (Public Finance, TES, Education Executive), and the Government weighed in by saying that a 2% pay rise would be desirable. We criticised the Government for trying to direct the STRB on working within budget constraints, and said that the suggested amount was ‘derisory’ (BBC News, TES, Schools Week).
Barclay School was today transferred to Future Academies, a chain founded by Lord Nash. Kevin spoke to the Guardian about the grassroots campaigns against forced academisation.
Damian Hinds has recently made a renewed push for academisation and more free schools. Schools Week reported on his meetings with faith leaders (Schools Week) while we responded to the new application launch for free schools (Education Executive).
Elsewhere we commented on Adoption UK’s call for Ofsted to review how schools account for the way they support vulnerable students (TES), exclusions due to drugs and drink (Daily Mirror), breast ironing (Guardian), and the continuing issue of huge salaries for academy heads (Daily Mail).
Our recent press releases are available here.
Joint General Secretary
National Education Union
Joint General Secretary
National Education Union
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