March 2001 - Newsletter

TEACHER SHORTAGE CRISIS

Bradford NUT has asked the Union to conduct a ballot on refusing to cover for long term absences and unfilled vacancies. The decision was taken at the General Meeting on February 27th after members spoke of the difficulties in their schools caused by the teacher shortage - of teachers doing an intolerable amount of cover, or having to double-up classes, because supply teachers are not available or because vacancies have remained unfilled. In at least one school pupils are sent home on a daily rota because of the shortage.

It is clear that the teacher shortage crisis is now creating a crisis of a different kind for teachers. In many of Bradford’s schools we are being told to cover for absences beyond the terms of our contract and are consequently working in desperately difficult circumstances, often suffering illness as a result.
As our contract stands, teachers do not need to cover in the following circumstances:

The exception to this rule is a case of genuine emergency, such as a supply teacher ringing in sick five minutes before the start of the school day. It is often the misuse of this "emergency" clause by some school managements which is making it difficult for some teachers to refuse to cover or to double up classes, which is why the NUT nationally is conducting ballots in several areas to give NUT members the backing they need to enable them to claim their contractual rights. The ballots, and the resulting action, are designed to put pressure on the government to seriously address the problem of teacher shortage instead of expecting overworked teachers to cover up the cracks in the system. In some areas the action has already begun.
The latest position on the shortage, and news about what is happening in Bradford, will be discussed at the next General Meeting on March 20th.

SUPERNUMERARY STAFF

An extra £5.6 million has been approved by the Council to fund mainstream supernumerary staff over the next financial year. Funding to deal with supernumerary EMAG staff on an equivalent basis is to come from the Education Directorate’s budget. We have sought and been given assurances that there will be no discrimination between these two groups of staff. We have been told that this budget will be used for the following:

The issue will be amongst those discussed at the next General Meeting.

PRIVATISATION

The Council has decided that there is something wrong with the education service in Bradford so they are planning to hand over huge chunks of it to a private company with little or no experience of running an education authority. The Council will contract this company for seven years and during this period will pay them enormous amounts of money.
The NUT and other groups have consistently tried to dissuade the Council from this plan, pointing out both its inherent and its potential dangers. In a recent newsletter ("So what of these miracle workers?") we described some of the activities of the four companies still in the bidding. To put it mildly, they fail to inspire confidence.
On March 20th NUT representatives are to meet representatives of Nord Anglia, Capita, Serco and Ensign to hear details of their bids.
We are also engaged in TUPE negotiations to protect centrally employed members who will be directly employed by the company if the plans go ahead.
On a note of optimism, we have had assurances from Ian Stewart, the Chief Executive, that if none of the bids come up to scratch a contract will not be made.

 

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