Delegates at the Brighton Conference were united in condemning the Government's Green Paper. Speaker after speaker, from the National Executive and from the conference floor, detailed the unfairness, inefficiency and destructiveness of the Government's proposals.
Many spoke of the most serious attack on conditions of service that teachers have ever experienced, and how the profession would be returned to the nineteenth century when pay was determined by pupils' results.
Mr. Blunkett's speech, earlier in the day, did nothing to persuade delegates that the Green Paper was a way forward. He seemed more interested in provoking heckling and gaining an excuse to brand our Union as "negative" than he was in dealing seriously with our members' legitimate concerns. But he did mention Performance Related Pay. He said that the system of PRP to be introduced would not be a "crude" one. As Doug McAvoy pointed out in his reply, teachers would gain no comfort from the knowledge that PRP would be detailed and sophisticated.
Mr. Blunkett, of course, had a "concession" up his sleeve which he chose not to flourish at the NUT but to wait for what he hoped would be a more congenial atmosphere in the conference of the NAS/UWT.
What a concession! To learn that appraisal linked to pay is to be delayed until next year is like finding out that you are not to be shot at dawn, but at dusk.
Other unions may be swayed by this non-concession, but the determination of the NUT to resist Performance Related Pay, appraisal linked to pay, fast-tracking, and the rest of the divisive paraphenalia of the Green Paper remains undiminished.
All members are urged to vote to boycott appraisal in the current ballot.
STOP PRESS : a delegation of officers from Bradford NUT are to meet the Bradford MPs in the House of Commons on April 28th. They will be pressing the MPs to support teachers in their opposition to the Green Paper.
There were other important decisions made at Conference.
The Union voted to change its policy towards Education Action Zones. Previously this had been one of critical involvement, working with the Zones to try to safeguard our members' interests, not necessarily opposing their setting up. The majority of delegates believed that this had become an unrealistic position as the Government were putting on pressure for Zones to be business rather than LEA led, and to trail some of the ideas in the Green Paper with strong elements of a punishment regime for teachers in some of them. In short, the Zones have been revealed as becoming genuinely hostile creatures rather than the slightly scary but tameable beasts which some in the Union believed them to be.
The Union's position has been clarified. We are unequivocally against the setting up of EAZs.
Our members working in any Zones that are established will still have the full backing of the NUT in defending their conditions of service.
Conference welcomed the Employment Relations Bill as the first major advance for individual workers' rights for many years and as a limited legal foundation for collective union organisation.
Amongst other things, the Bill gives to part-time workers the entitlement to no less favourable treatment than full-time workers. It does little, however to restore some of the collective rights that Unions enjoyed prior to the Conservative Government.
Conference, being appalled that the murderers of Stephen Lawrence have not been brought to justice, welcomed the McPherson Report and stated its belief that education has a vital role to play in combatting racism and in preparing pupils for life in a multi-cultural society.
Language development work is now paid for from a DfEE Standards Fund called EMAG, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant. This replaces Section 11. Although Bradford has permission to finish out this academic year under the old arrangements, substantial changes are required by this new grant, the biggest being that spending decisions are largely devolved to schools.
As the transition takes place, there will certainly be some effects on the placement of staff formerly employed under Section 11
Angela Drizi, Bradford's Assistant Director for School Effectiveness, is setting up a working party, consisting of a Headteacher representative from each phase, a representative from the NUT and other unions and a governor, to work out how to manage the transition to the terms of the new grant. For Bradford the movement of pupils in the reorganisation is a further complication.
The working group will make recommendations about:
We are organising a meeting to inform and consult members before decisions are finalised.
Tuesday 18th May at 4:30pm
at Manningham Middle School
(Officers will be available to answer questions from 4:00pm)
Aid For Kosovan Pupils and Teachers
At our General Meeting on 20th April, we had a speaker who had visited the Kosovan teachers' trade union at the end of last year. She is also in touch with the present position in the camps.
Attempting to continue with education is an important part of struggling for the wellbeing of the hundreds of thousands of dispossessed people. Other sorts of aid are obviously also desperately needed.
An aid lorry is leaving Bradford for Macedonia on May 1st with food, clothing and blankets. These can be delivered to 29 John Street, Bradford 4-6pm Monday to Friday and 2-4pm Saturday and Sunday. Educational supplies such as paper, pens, textbooks, calculators are being collected for a convoy in July, and can be delivered to the NUT Office in Bradford.
Educational supplies such as paper, pens, textbooks, calculators are being collected for a convoy in July, and can be delivered to the NUT Office in Bradford.
Bradford NUT has donated £200 to support the effort.
If you would like Rachel Duncan of Bradford Aid for Kosova to talk in schools, please contact the Union Office.
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