Monday at Conference 2018

What happened on the first day of Conference.

During the morning session there was a welcome from National Education Union joint general secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, and motions on recruitment and retention, funding and support staff workload were debated.

Delegates viewed a short film, A History of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference is gravely concerned to hear of NQTs mentoring trainees and other NQTs.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) review and update existing guidance to members

(ii) research current mentoring practices and highlight good practice

(iii) lobby the Government with a proposal for minimum statutory requirements for mentoring.

 

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes with alarm the changing demographic of the teaching population, with fewer than half of current classroom teachers having more than 10 years’ experience. Conference also acknowledges the challenges faced by schools that are struggling to recruit and retain teachers; and, also, notes the detrimental impact on learners arising from constant turnover of teachers and the high proportions of inexperienced practitioners. Moreover, Conference notes that the recruitment and retention trends are beginning to shape the wider public perception of teaching as a temporary or transitory form of employment.

Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) research and publicise case studies that demonstrate where and how high rates of teacher retention have been secured

(ii) lobby Government to act, with a sustained strategy, on the barriers to teacher retention, and

(iii) work with the Government in promoting teaching as a sustained career option with a particular emphasis on ensuring that progression and promotion within the profession are seen as desirable, manageable and well rewarded.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes the success of ATL in publishing the TA Standards in 2016 and the positive effect that these have had in the schools that have adopted them. However, support staff members are still not being respected as a valued and professional part of the education workforce. Support staff are still underestimated, undervalued and not recognised for the significant role they play in schools and colleges. There is a gross misunderstanding of the varied and vital roles that support staff undertake within education, leading to misconceptions about the value and professional standing of this essential and diverse workforce. These misconceptions mean that support staff are often left behind or left out when it comes to training and development, stifling chosen career paths. Also, there is still the perception that support staff are a ‘mums’ army’ who do little more than wash paint pots and create displays. The reality is much different.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) research and publicise the reality of the scope, range and breadth of education support staff roles and the impact they have in schools and colleges.

(ii) campaign for support staff to have equal access to training, development and CPD within their respective roles.

  • Oxfordshire

THAT Conference notes with concern that it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain technical support staff owing to the widening pay differentials between employees in the education sector and the commercial world.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) highlight the important role technical support staff play in the education sector

(ii) encourage members to ensure that their job descriptions accurately reflect the role they undertake

(iii) investigate the growing disparity between IT technicians in schools and colleges and in outside industry, with a view to improving the situation for our members.

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

THAT Conference notes current NEU-ATL section guidance regarding best practice for CPD.

Conference is concerned that members working in the special school sector are finding it increasingly difficult to access training and development linked to their own personal and professional development needs.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council survey all members working in this sector to determine the full extent of this problem and to develop specific guidance to support members and ensure they have equitable access to true professional development.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes with concern that low levels of funding for education are forcing many leaders to implement unethical changes in schools and colleges to the detriment of learners.

Examples of such changes affecting learners include management decisions being made that:

  • increase class sizes to the point where it becomes a health and safety issue
  • narrow the curriculum, eg through the removal of smaller group sizes, the adherence to Progress 8 requirements in schools or perceived local needs in colleges, thus potentially limiting career choices
  • create specialist teaching and support staff shortages as a result of redundancies caused by inadequate funding
  • create inappropriate workload for staff, affecting their health and leading to absence resulting in an impact on delivery to learners.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) ensure leaders and managers are reassured they will be appropriately supported by their union and are encouraged to speak out and challenge the funding barriers they face

(ii) work with the NGA to ensure governors understand how the impact of the funding crisis is forcing unethical decisions to be made

(iii) continue to highlight to Government examples where the interests of learners are being detrimentally affected due to ethical challenges faced by leaders and managers

(iv) seek media coverage to reiterate the message to parents that their children are being detrimentally affected by a lack of resources.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference is concerned at the apparent extent to which MATs and FE college mergers are giving rise to a proliferation of CEO roles, along with associated inflated management structures. Conference believes that education funds need to be used as efficiently and effectively as possible and that teaching, learning and ensuring the health and well-being of all staff and students should take priority over a growing number of senior positions and inflated salaries.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) lobby Government to ensure clear accountability for the CEO role

(ii) lobby Government to ensure clear necessity for all senior leader roles

(iii) lobby Government to produce guidelines for salaries of CEOs and senior roles

(iv) work with the NGA and others in calls to focus resources on teaching and learning rather than CEO roles.

  • Berkshire

THAT Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council ask the DfE to examine the possibility of recommending that local authorities in England reintroduce supply lists, and fund accordingly, and to examine the use of third-party matching technology to support this.

Conference also instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council investigate the viability of developing a National Education Union third-party platform.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference welcomes, in principle, the establishment of the education consortia as a means of providing advice and support to schools on a regional basis in Wales but is concerned by the inconsistent nature and quality of some of that advice. Further, Conference questions whether, in the extreme financial climate, consortia represent the best use of scarce resources.

Conference therefore asks the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council ask the Welsh Government for clearer terms of reference to be drawn up to clarify the proper role of the consortia, as distinct from that of Estyn.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference is concerned at the way the current DBS system has the power to affect members negatively. Indeed, in January 2016 the High Court declared the Government’s criminal records disclosure scheme incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

The filtering system introduced in 2013 is not fit for purpose and on an enhanced DBS, information can be disclosed by police even when an individual has not been charged with, or found guilty of, any offence.

The ATL section Defence Committee has seen instances of members being arrested, released without charge and yet being put in a position where their careers are at risk owing to unfair and or inappropriate information disclosed on their DBS.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) lobby Government to ensure that the system is overhauled to become compatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act

(ii) lobby Government to ensure that information about arrests leading to no further action being taken is not eligible information on a DBS

(iii) work with other interested parties in calls to ensure, while helping to protect the young and vulnerable in our society, that DBS does not unfairly discriminate against individuals who have never been convicted of a criminal offence or who were convicted when aged under 18.

  • Kent

THAT Conference notes that the Association of Colleges is trailblazing a scholarship policy that should encapsulate conditions of pay, recognition and support for teachers and lecturers to engage in scholarly research. Some remission time should be ringfenced for this purpose.

Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby the Association of Colleges to ensure that there is clarity of outcome for the teachers and lecturers who will participate in the scheme and to take into account the recommendations of the pilot groups.

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

THAT Conference is concerned that, despite the STPCD requiring that teachers have a minimum of 10% PPA time, a significant number of teachers are either not receiving their full PPA entitlement, or activities during this protected time are being directed by senior leaders, contrary to PPA requirements.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council survey members to seek evidence to lobby the DfE to audit schools nationally.

  • Norfolk

THAT Conference recognises the impact that the dissemination of programmes of study, the creation of schemes of work, mid-term schemes of study and lesson plans place on the workload of our members, and in most cases this produces a tripling of work.

Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council campaign to have the DfE produce a scheme of work for each programme of study at key stages 1, 2 and 3 and the examination awarding bodies produce a scheme of work for examination subjects at key stages 4 and 5, which teachers can then adapt in order to suit their classes.

  • Durham

THAT Conference recognises all the hard work our support staff members across all sectors are doing, but is alarmed by the discrepancies in expectations and workloads that they are facing. Support staff who are working on the same pay scale are reporting that expectations vary massively from workplace to workplace. In Durham, some higher level teaching assistants are taking whole classes for 10% of their week and others up to 80%, yet these members are on the same grade and same pay. Both teachers and support staff are being let down.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) continue to advocate the Ofsted mythbuster to schools and workplaces

(ii) work with branches to ensure that members know how to access support to enable them to speak up when management expectations are unreasonable

(iii) carry out further research upon the expectations of staff where we have highlighted workload issues and investigate if those expectations have any impact upon children’s attainment.

  • Inner London

THAT Conference notes with concern the increasing workload placed on middle leaders and TLR-holders in schools.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) ask the Government to remind employers that, where teachers are still subject to the STPCD, the 1,265-hour limit still applies

(ii) promote the proper use of ‘management time’ to allow middle leaders and TLR-holders to fulfil their duties

(iii) produce guidance for members to help them to manage their middle leader and TLR roles effectively.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes that the recent independent sector survey shows an ever-increasing workload for members across the whole of the independent sector.

To add insult to injury, the workloads are increasing but the rewards for taking on more duties are not. Often, members are simply expected to cover not just unpredicted absences but also predicted long-term absence and sometimes they are asked to teach subjects where they have no training or experience.

The survey also provides evidence that there is a growing expectation that teachers are having to respond to emails and text messages from parents, governors and children after the working day has ended and at weekends. Not only is this causing a challenge to their work-life balance but is also increasing the anxiety levels in teachers’ lives.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) encourage all employers in independent schools to carry out an audit of workload and staffing

(ii) produce clear guidance and model procedures that can be distributed to all independent sector employers for implementation.

  • Inner London

THAT Conference notes with concern the rise in the numbers of education professionals who have cut their employed hours from full time to part time in order to try to regain an effective life-work balance. Conference also notes that often these part-time workers still work fulltime hours.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) survey part-time members to establish the extent of the issue

(ii) lobby the Government to address the issue of workload within the education profession and to ensure that those working in education can achieve an effective life-work balance.

  • Derbyshire and Derby City

THAT Conference notes the following comments made in a speech by Amanda Spielman, HM chief inspector, at the Festival of Education on 23 June 2017:

“One of the areas that I think we sometimes lose sight of is the real substance of education. Not the exam grades or the progress scores, important though they are, but instead the real meat of what is taught in our schools and colleges: the curriculum.”

Conference believes that Ofsted should not only place more emphasis on the curriculum instead of mainly data but also investigate how schools are producing more rounded individuals through a holistic approach to education.

Many schools provide opportunities for their pupils to gain experiences that they may not be able to gain within their family environment. These experiences may, for example, help pupils to gain confidence, experience the wider world or learn practical skills. It is through this type of holistic curriculum that pupils, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop a wider knowledge of life outside their community which, in turn, helps them to make better progress owing to a wider viewpoint.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby Ofsted to see the children and young people in our care as individuals on a learning journey rather than as pieces of isolated data.

  • Somerset

THAT Conference believes that there is too much power and not enough accountability around the workings of the RSCs and headteacher boards. Further, Conference believes that there should be transparency over their roles, composition and decision-making.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) investigate the practice of RSCs and headteacher boards in England and Wales

(ii) produce a policy statement based on its findings

(iii) lobby the Government to make the workings of the RSCs and headteacher boards transparent and accountable to Parliament and to the public.

  • Somerset

THAT Conference believes that the capability process is often abused, contributing to the large number of teachers leaving the profession. Until recently it was apparent that UPS3 teachers were mainly targeted by the capability process, but now main scale teachers and support staff are reporting the same. While Conference recognises the pressures on headteachers to save money and increase academic results with fewer resources, supporting teacher development with care is vital to retain colleagues and motivate staff teams.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) investigate the practice of the capability process in England and Wales

(ii) work with other organisations and unions to produce joint research, publicise good practice and encourage members to follow advice

(iii) lobby the Government with the findings, exploring ways to establish support, care and value for all staff, with staff retention held as a priority.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes that it has been reported that in some independent schools, especially ones that are privately owned, there is no governing body elected. This means that small, privately run independent schools may be open to financial impropriety and to fast and loose employment practices, with no clear lines of accountability. Also, where the schools are run entirely by the same family, there is the possibility of unequal treatment of staff.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby Government to produce legislation to require the establishment of properly constituted and fully representative governing bodies in all independent schools.

  • Isle of Wight

THAT Conference is concerned over the increasing lack of oversight of violent behaviour by students towards staff. Conference notes that academies, free schools, etc have no legal responsibility to report incidences of violent behaviour and can hide their figures outside of the local authority, within their own organisation. In the present fragmentation of education organisations, there is no local mechanism to ensure acts of violent behaviour are reported and collated locally. Consequently there is no coordination of support.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) encourage all members to report all acts of violent behaviour from all institution types, in order to protect themselves and their students

(ii) investigate how violent behaviour is reported and collated, and by whom

(iii) vigorously encourage all institutions to report locally so that awareness of any issues and strategies to cope are supported more widely.

  • Brent

THAT Conference notes that the Grenfell fire showed how ignoring and weakening safety regulations in order to cut costs led to the horrific deaths of about 80 residents.

Conference congratulates the National Education Union, Asbestos in Schools and the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) for the work they have done to increase awareness of the risk from fire and asbestos in our schools but notes that the lives of staff and pupils are still at risk because of Government inaction. Fire also increases the risk of asbestos.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council continue to support JUAC and work with other unions to urge the Government to:

(i) undertake an urgent audit of all school buildings to determine whether they meet fire safety regulations, and to determine the existence of cladding similar to the type used on Grenfell Tower

(ii) review school safety regulations and require sprinkler systems in all new and refurbished schools, safe compartmentalisation and cladding of limited combustibility

(iii) undertake an asbestos condition survey of all school asbestos, including inaccessible and hidden asbestos that is currently not risk assessed, in order to inform the phased removal of asbestos commencing with the removal of the most dangerous first

(iv) initiate an action plan to ensure that issues identified through fire safety and asbestos condition surveys receive adequate funding and are dealt with appropriately and safely

(v) provide specific guidance to union health and safety representatives and joint union safety committees on fire safety and asbestos management issues in schools and particularly those that have an increased risk from fire and asbestos such as many of the 12,000 system-built schools built in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • Hertfordshire

THAT Conference is concerned that budget cuts are already affecting schools and that many school buildings are deteriorating.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) consult other education organisations and our members in order to find out the extent of issues that pupils deal with daily with regard to poor buildings and maintenance

(ii) use this information to encourage the Government to invest sufficient money into building schools that are fit for the future.

Conference sessions

Find out more about the other sessions of Conference.