Newsletter - October 2003

DEATH BY PLANNING

Planning, especially in primary schools, continues to be a huge burden for many teachers. The Teacher Workload Study undertaken by the DfES found that planning was the second highest source of overwork for teachers. Some, although not all, of the problem stems from LEA (in our case Education Bradford) inspectors and advisers putting immense pressure on Heads to require from teachers a level of detail which even Ofsted has said is unnecessary.

Recently, the NUT sent out guidance on planning to all members. The following is a summary of that guidance, emphasising how you can protect yourself against death by planning.

These guidelines are backed up by the NUTís ballot on bureaucratic burdens - so you have the full support of the Union in applying them. Please remember that the purpose of the guidelines is to support you and allow you to use your professional judgement about how you do your planning.

RIGHTS OF NEW AND EXPECTANT MOTHERS

"The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations" requires that our employers carry out risk assessments. There must be a risk assessment of how hazards may affect the health & safety of new or expectant mothers. It must therefore pay particular attention to women who are pregnant, have recently given birth or miscarried, or are breastfeeding, where they may be exposed to something that might put their health and safety or that of their baby at risk. In schools, some examples of such dangers would be :-

Once identified, the hazards must be controlled or alternative work must be provided.

An additional duty under Health and Safety regulations is to provide suitable and sufficient rest facilities for pregnant women and nursing mothers, at readily accessible places. They should be conveniently situated in relation to sanitary facilities and, where necessary, include the facility to lie down. Sick bays or first aid rooms would only constitute suitable rest facilities if privacy and quiet could be guaranteed.
If you have difficulties getting these entitlements, please call the NUT Office.

LATEST INFORMATION ON PENSIONS

Most teachers were rightly concerned when the news broke of intended changes to the pension scheme. Since then, the NUT has been engaged in interpreting the DfES plans. The general idea is to raise the age at which a full pension is payable from 60 to 65, but to protect all the contributions which have been made previous to the change date.

For example. A 45 year old teacher has 20 yearís service at the time the higher pension age for future service is introduced and works for another 15 years. If he wished to retire at that point (aged 60) he would be entitled to an unreduced pension based on 20 years plus a pension based on the further 15 years that would be reduced to take account of the fact that it was being put into payment before age 65.

Some of the proposals have changed since they were first put forward, but the DfES are now prepared to provide some clarity to this chameleon like process by some guarantees:

Despite these guarantees uncertainties remain, such as whether it will be possible to take an actuarily reduced pension at the same age, and to the same value, as it is at present.

The NUT will strongly object to any changes which reduce the value of the pension for any teacher.

You can find the latest information on what is probably the longest web site address known to humanity (some of us may have retired before we get to the end of it):
www.teachernet.gov.uk/educationoverview/briefing/currentstrategy/pensions

Don't Forget

The National Officer election ballot papers will be out soon.

Bradford is supporting:-
Vice Presidents
Baljeet Ghale and Roger King

Treasurer - Ian Murch

Examiners of Accounts
Ken Cridland and Alison Palmer

SATs SURVEY - STILL TIME TO RESPOND

There is still time to respond to the Union's survey on the proposed boycott of SATs. Forms must be returned by October 10th.

The following article, by Kevin Courtney of Camden NUT, gives some good reasons for the boycott. See also the NUT booklet, The Case Against National Curiculum Tests.

Not so long ago teachers had lots of professional autonomy. We decided assessment schedules. We could follow the childrenís interests: meeting the needs of the children we actually taught, rather than some Whitehall bureaucratís notion of the average child. We could allow classroom discussion to have its own pace and dynamic. It wasnít perfect, but teachers used to enjoy work!

Now, instead of autonomy, we have accountability and top down direction gone mad. We have national targets, LEA targets, school targets and individual performance management targets. We have the most tested children in Europe. We have league tables of primary and secondary schools.

This is not just bad for us.

Our pupils are pushed far too hard on a treadmill that never stops. Many are very stressed, evidenced by the large number of calls to Childline about the SATs. A large minority are pushed or jump off the treadmill - leaving education for good.

Yes, the SATs results go up, but these increased results do not reflect a deeper academic achievement or instil a love of learning. Instead they are the product of being forced to teach to the test and to collapse any part of the curriculum that doesnít help the search for a better league table position.

The only people who benefit from these tests, targets and tables are Government spin, the publishers of the endless SATs revision books and the layer of management cronies building their careers on educationally bad policies.

Thatís why we must seize the opportunity of the NUT SATs boycott.

A SHORTER SUMMER HOLIDAY?

On Thursday October 9th the LEA is consulting the unions about changes to the holiday pattern for next year. Please make sure the views of members at your school reach us - your Rep has a survey form for this.

The main changes are:

  1. The summer holiday in 2004 and in 2005 is reduced to 5 weeks and 2 days. It has always been 6 weeks except for last year, when it was a day short.
  2. The Easter holiday would be 2 weeks and 1 day and would start on Good Friday.

 

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