Newsletter - May 2003

UNION PREPARES TO END SATs...

The NUT Conference voted unanimously to ballot all members on a re-instatement of the boycott of Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 SATs, beginning in 2004. This follows mounting evidence of the undesirability of such frequent testing, and the Union’s own survey of members which showed overwhelming hostility to the tests.


John Illingworth, Bradford NUT members’ nomination for General Secretary of the Union, gave a succinct summing up of our position:
"If we were doctors and the government gave us instructions to carry out a procedure we knew would ruin the patient’s health, we wouldn’t do it. Why should we, as teachers, carry out a SATs policy that ruins children’s education and love of learning?"
The campaign is also to include a national petition to the Secretary of State, an approach to other organisations to try to involve them, the organisation of public meetings and the production of leaflets giving the educational argument against the tests.

If you would like someone to come and speak at a school meeting, or have any other ideas about events which could be held, please contact the office. The SATs boycott will be a major part of the agenda at general meetings in the near future.

. . .AND ACT ON WORKLOAD

"If the Government aren't prepared to act on workload, then the Union must."
- seconder of the motion committing the Union to action.

Workload was a key issue which delegates had gone to Harrogate to discuss. The debate had been given particular importance by the action of the other unions in signing up to the so-called “agreement” which will not deliver a reduction in workload and threatens to replace qualified teachers with "high level assistants".

Teachers are also threatened with no limit on how long they must cover for an absence by the new regulations.

Conference voted on a campaign of action designed to really protect teachers from intolerable levels of work. This is to include:

Conference also confirmed the Union's firm opposition to the use of classroom assistants to teach whole classes. Members will be sent advice on refusing to prepare work to facilitate support staff carrying out the work of teachers.

BUDGET STATISTICS CONCEAL THE TRUTH

There is a budget crisis in schools up and down the country.
Bradford is no exception, with teachers in more than 20 schools facing redundancy.
The government claims that cash for schools increased by 11.6% during 2003/4.

So what’s going on? Why are teachers facing job losses when there is more money available to schools?

The answer is that schools are not better off. The Government has simply attempted a conjuring trick to allow them to claim they have increased funding for schools when in reality the extra cash is more than taken up by the extra things which schools are responsible for, such as the rise in their contribution towards pensions.
And in privatised Bradford there is an additional financial burden for schools. Education Bradford/Serco are asking for (and being given) an increase of £1.494 million from the education budget to help finance their responsibilities under the contract.

The situation is serious. At a time when the Government is proclaiming its success in giving schools more money, and when Bradford is meant to be benefiting from the attentions of its new look (very expensive!) provider, teachers’ jobs are being threatened.

The Union is working very hard to prevent compulsory redundancies and is willing to organise indusrtial action if necessary. We know of a number of schools that are in financial difficulties, but if you think jobs might be threatened where you work, please ring the Union Office.

TEACHER'S APPEAL UPHELD AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS

The vast majority of teachers knew the Threshold to be unfair, and knew that the application process would be full of injustices. Most of us are aware of colleagues who have been unfairly treated by this process because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or their school closed and documentation was lost, or they did not get on with the Head or senior management.

It is worth remembering that, if the government had had its way, there would have been no appeals procedure in the application process, and that it was only included as a result of a successful legal battle fought by the Union. Since the first round of applications in September 2000 the NUT in Bradford has been active in fighting appeals on behalf of members, and winning many of them.

The story of one NUT member at a Bradford Middle School is a good illustration that appeals against unfair Threshold decisions are worth fighting. Dave Simpson’s original application in 2000 was turned down but, angry and undaunted, Dave fought the decision with the help of the Union. Eventually, after a Review, a Complaint to the LEA and finally a second Review – two and a half years later - it was judged that he did meet the standards and that the relevant information had been available at the time of his application. Well done Dave! No wonder the Government did not want an appeals procedure.

Remember that decisions relating to progress on the Upper Pay Spine can also be challenged.

FORMS TURN UP IN A CARDBOARD BOX!

In the last Newsletter we reported that Education Bradford had lost all the Violence at Work forms that had been completed by teachers since last July. At first they said they were just not receiving any, which was hard to believe since until then they were receiving about 70 a month. Then, in a recent meeting, someone appeared with a cardboard box containing approximately 400 forms recording acts of violence perpetrated against teachers and non-teaching staff. There has as yet been no proper explanation of what happened apart from they had been found in a box lying in a cupboard. Oh yes, and the forms only go up to December, so where are the forms for the Spring Term? An overcoat pocket? Behind the hot water pipes? In someone’s garage?
The NUT will, as soon as possible, be contacting the victims of violence at work whose forms Education Bradford had mislaid.

OH PRIVATISATION, OH PFI MY LOVE...

As Bradford crawls deeper into the privatisation mire, a poem written by Sue McMahon of Calderdale NUT

Tony and Gordon went to sea in a
Beautiful pea-green boat
They took some honey and a bit of money
Wrapped up in a five pound note
Tony looked up to the stars above
And sang to a small guitar
O Privatisation, O PFI my love
What a beautiful policy you are, you are
What a beautiful policy you are

Gordon said to Tony
Your policy’s phoney
But how charmingly sweet you sing
O let private and public be married
Too long have we tarried
But what shall we do
(To make sure that PFI is the only game in town)
For a ring?
So they sailed away for a year and a day
To the land where the bong treegrows
And there in a wood a private consortium stood
With a ring at the end of its snout - its nose
With a ring at the end of its nose

"Dear Pig are you willing
If we give you one shilling
(To cream off fat profits for the next 25 years, spirit public away and then flog her off)
To give us your ring?"
Said the Piggy, "I will"


So they took public away and signed up the next day
Witnessed by the fat cat who lived on the hill
Public dined on scraps thrown from shareholders laps
Which she ate with an old rusty spoon
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced to the shareholders’ tune - Their tune
They danced to the shareholders’ tune
(Apologies to Edward Lear and his nonsense poetry - but nonsense is what PFI is.)

 

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