Newsletter - September 2001

It's Like Working on a Building Site

The beginning of term has seen problems in several schools where teachers have returned to work to find unfinished and consequently unsafe buildings. Our members in these schools, faced with unpacking boxes and carrying out other preparation work in the middle of a building site, have sought and obtained the Union's support. There is pressure from various sources on schools to open, and in some cases this pressure can be passed on to teachers, who may be asked to work in conditions which are not acceptable. It is important that pressure like this is resisted. Teachers and children cannot be put at risk because others have failed to meet their commitments. Teachers should not be expected to work on a construction site. This means the work must be finished, and the building cleaned, before we go back in. We should not be asked to work amongst hazards such as ladders, tools, rubble, builders’ equipment, dirt, cement dust, trailing cables etc, nor should we have to walk through areas containing these or similar hazards. This sort of problem will continue to arise throughout this school year in some schools.

Please contact the Union office if this kind of problem arises at your school. We have nationally trained and accredited Safety Representatives who can come and do an inspection, who have the right to decide whether your working environment is safe.


Threshold - Standard Not Yet Met!

CEA are still processing applications from the 2000 round more than a year after teachers applied. These are applications that are ‘being discovered in drawers’ (a reason actually cited!), and are being processed, provided the delay is not the fault of the applicant.

The Review (appeal) process won by the NUT as a result of a legal challenge has already borne fruit for some review applicants from Bradford who have had their 'not met' judgement overturned.

Nationally very roughly 25% of review applications completed so far have been successful, with Bradford above average. CEA say they are still accepting applications for review, but these are unlikely to be completed until late this term.

The closing date for applying to cross the Threshold in the 2001 round is 29th October. There is a new form, available electronically, but it is very inflexible. The boxes are a fixed size, the font and type size is fixed, no formatting is available, e.g. no bullet points, bold or italics. If you want bullet points you have to type in e.g. an asterisk. Typing more than will fit into the box will mean the extra words simply disappear.

The DfES are trying to restrict applicants to brief ‘signposts to evidence’. CEA have said that extra sheets, clearly labelled, can be securely attached to the form.

The standards have not changed since last year. If you would like advice with any stage of the process please contact this office where we now have considerable experience of all stages of the process.

'NUFF NOF?

The latest OFSTED guidance makes it clear that the NOF scheme is voluntary, and that individual teachers may choose not to take up the offer of training. However, this does not mean that ICT competence, or evidence that you are working towards it, will not be looked at.

Serco=Education Bradford

Serco took over functions, employees and resources from Bradford LEA at the end of July.

They have called the period from July to November a "transition phase", and have already briefed their staff on the structure they want to implement.

Special Educational Needs, however, is under a longer term review that is expected to be complete by April.

Fewer Staff

Serco have announced that the new structure will have about 120 fewer staff than at present and that they will look for volunteers for severance to achieve the reduction. Negotiation with the Unions on the way people will be allocated to posts in the new structure is due to start on 25th September with a view to their being in new posts in January.

Stress Balls

If you now work for Serco, and you haven't already got one, your new employer would like to give you a stress ball. 'Nuff said.

Cover - Start Counting

The national cover agreement between the teacher unions and our employers means that from 1st September, schools need to start recording all occasions when a teacher is asked to cover for a colleague after the 3rd day of absence. The length of cover needs to be "banked" for that teacher and normally within four weeks of the cover, the teacher should be offered compensatory time off.

Further guidance on the workings of the agreement will be sent to school reps shortly following discussions with the LEA. However, at the moment, if you are asked to cover after the 3rd day the length of time you cover must be recorded.

This includes taking children from a divided class into your class for the day.

In the meantime, if you have questions about the working of the agreement, please contact the NUT Office.

 

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