Tuesday at Conference 2018

What happened on the second day of Conference.

During this session, there was a speech by joint general secretary of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted. We also debated resolutions about FE, SEND and pupil mental health.

  • Brent

THAT Conference believes that there has been an alarming increase in alleged corruption within education as we see ever-more frequent reports of scandals to do with alleged corruption in academies and free schools. There has also been exposure of some practices that are legal, such as top-slicing, but are draining our schools of funds and preventing the pupils receiving the education they deserve.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council call on Government and local authorities to consult/ negotiate with the education unions on establishing:

(i) a more rigorous and stringent oversight of finances in all education establishments

(ii) the return of democracy to all school governing bodies with an elected body including proper representation of staff and parents elected democratically by their appropriate constituencies

(iii) legislation to ensure immediate full legal safeguards for whistleblowers until the situation is resolved. Conference further instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council produce a publication with examples illustrating our great concern and putting forward the measures that could and should be taken by Government and local authorities to combat this misuse of public funds.

  • Norfolk

THAT Conference recognises that teachers and support staff often provide class resources from their own personal finances due to the cuts in funding to schools, and recognises that with the reduction in value of teachers’ salaries in real terms, this is no longer viable or acceptable.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council carry out research into the actual financial value our schools receive as a result of our members’ generosity.

  • Berkshire

THAT Conference notes that, with school budgets already stretched due to the funding crisis, the apprenticeship levy is an unnecessary cost for education establishments, which could use this money to support students to develop the skills and gain the qualifications required to access apprenticeships.

Conference further notes that, although the Government claims the apprenticeship levy will only affect two per cent of employers, the Local Government Association predicts it will affect 90% of councils and, as a consequence, the vast majority of council-maintained schools. As things stand, any multi-academy trust or voluntary aided school with a payroll of over £3 million per year is also obliged to pay the levy.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby the Government to exempt education establishments from paying the apprenticeship levy.

  • Kent

THAT Conference deplores the narrowing of the post-16 curriculum with the diminishing currency of non-core subjects. Creative, applied and vocational subjects are being offered in a decreasing number of centres as a result of school performance data and the funding crisis.

Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby the secretary of state for education to refocus post-16 education to be inclusive, raising the profile of these economically essential subjects.

  • ESSEX, SOUTHEND AND THURROCK

THAT Conference notes that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply to all schools and colleges from May 2018. Recognising that the GDPR has many commendable features, Conference nonetheless notes that its introduction brings additional duties for school and college leaders, additional tasks that will fall to support staff, additional costs and the need for relevant training.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council urge the DfE to publish succinct and accessible advice for schools and colleges on GDPR implementation and to guarantee access to supplementary funding, where necessary, for training and implementation.

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

THAT Conference notes the current housing crisis in the UK. For those in or about to take up their first posts in schools or colleges, the combined shortage and expense of housing means growing numbers of education professionals, particularly younger teachers, NQTs and support staff, cannot find somewhere they can afford to rent or buy. This is forcing people to live further away from their place of work or leave the profession altogether. The strain this can put on an individual’s mental health and well-being cannot be underestimated.

Further, Conference notes that Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, found in a recent survey that one in five education professionals have at some point in the last five years “suffered mental health problems including anxiety, depression and panic attacks” due to housing pressure. One in six have said the pressure has also affected their physical health. Shelter now estimates that as many as 41% of homeless households are now in work, rising even higher to 47% in London and areas of high housing costs.

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

(i) lobby the Government to investigate the link between education pay, recruitment and retention and high housing costs

(ii) survey members to find out the full extent of the impact of the housing crisis on those in the education profession

(iii) provide signposting to both support and guidance for those in housing crisis.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference believes that a central plank of securing the status and quality of any profession is in the maintenance of a credible and consistent pay mechanism. In the FE sector this does not exist.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council investigate the issues around the current situation in FE regarding the inconsistencies in the implementation of national pay awards.

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

(i) a credible national element to the pay mechanism so that it is compulsory not discretionary

(ii) a national contract to be implemented in England for lecturing and management staff (as in Wales and Scotland) that would help in assessing business cases and provide a level ground for pay and conditions

(iii) the JNC to publish college-by-college information on pay awards in a timely manner each year

(iv) a system, as with the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), whereby if a college fails to implement a pay award, both SFCA and the joint trade union side investigate the failure to implement

(v) an explicit review of the role of FE and skills, sixth forms and universities, with the ambition of providing a hiqh-quality public education environment that would support both staff and learners.

  • Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland

THAT Conference notes that, since the pay freeze was first imposed in 2010-11, teachers’ pay in Northern Ireland has fallen in real terms by some 15%. Starting salaries of those new to the profession in Northern Ireland stand some 16% behind the OECD average. The loss of pay has led to the diminution of teaching as a graduate profession and represents a challenge to the quality of education provision in Northern Ireland. The experience of teachers is no different to the degradation of pay across the public sector. One substantive reason for this prolonged pay restraint is the degradation of the public purse by a failure of the UK Government to collect tax, and the facilitation of both tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Conference notes the revelations from the Paradise papers, following on from earlier information in the Panama papers. Tax avoidance and evasion on the part of wealthy elites and many large corporates are rife. Tax evasion and avoidance degrade the finance available to the public sector in general, including education. Conference agrees that trust in the Government, and its ability to regulate for all, is broken.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council promote, through the TUC, the creation of a people’s commission for fair taxation to consider and propose means of instituting a modern, fair system of taxation for the UK.

  • North Wales

THAT Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council take all possible steps to seek to ensure that the devolution of school teachers’ pay and conditions will not further depress teachers’ pay in Wales.

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

THAT Conference notes with concern recent research showing that, despite the statutory 20- week time limit from a request for assessment being made to the issuing of the final EHC plan, only 59.2% of EHC plans were issued within the 20-week time limit in 2015. During 2016, this figure decreased to 58.6%.

Further, Conference notes that according to IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice): “In IPSEA’s experience, it is not uncommon for local authorities to refuse assessments based on their own policies, rather than the legal test for assessment, many of which set a threshold significantly higher than the legal threshold.”

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council undertake the necessary research across all LAs in order to report accurately on the current picture nationwide, and use LAs that are succeeding as exemplars for others.

Conference further instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council produce advice for professionals and parents on:

(i) the legal timelines for each part of the EHC plan and annual review processes

(ii) what can be done when LAs do not comply with timelines

(iii) applying for EHC needs assessments effectively, and what the legal thresholds are

(iv) running annual reviews in the best interests of all involved in the child’s provision, and what is legally required.

  • COMPOSITE FROM MOTIONS RECEIVED FROM DURHAM AND HERTFORDSHIRE DISTRICTS

THAT Conference agrees that every child is entitled to an education and that no child should be forgotten. Across the UK there are a growing number of children who are on a reduced timetable within school, are excluded from extracurricular activities and are not being allowed to access a broad and balanced curriculum, receiving little or no education, owing to their social and emotional difficulties.

Schools are at breaking point, CAMHS funding has been decimated, and there are no places in special schools and alternative provisions.

These vulnerable children are being overlooked and ignored; the length of time it is taking for a diagnosis or specialist provision to become available is impacting upon their and their families’ well-being.

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

(i) lobby Government, highlighting the issues faced by these children and their families

(ii) work with parents and disability groups to research the extent of the problem, and

(iii) work with other organisations to discover the full extent of the underfunding of mental health services for children and young people and use this evidence to demand that the Government invests in the future mental well-being of pupils.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference notes, with profound sadness, the increasing incidence of suicide among young adults and teenagers and recognises that each such episode is a complex personal tragedy and that school or college can only ever be part of the narrative.

Conference questions, nonetheless, whether the cumulative experience of contemporary education – the curriculum content, the assessment framework, approaches to pedagogy, and other pervasive aspects of the system - is contributing to the lived experience of hopelessness.

Conference also considers whether policy-makers have become so preoccupied with content and outcomes, with performance and success, with progression and employability, that they have created a context in which, in the literal sense, there are those who have lost the will to live.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that, in assessing education provision for every context in all schools and colleges, the Joint Executive Council adopt as a benchmark whether the experience for learners is one that fosters hope for the future.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference recognises an increase in society’s understanding and ability to identify the complex mental health needs of our pupils and students. There has been a reduction, however, in available specialist support services external to schools that is generating an untenable amount of pressure on already overstretched and under-resourced education budgets.

This is placing an unfair burden on teachers and support staff to carry out duties beyond the statutory duty of care and outside their core education role.

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

(i) carry out an in-depth audit of all schools and colleges to ascertain what provision and support is provided in schools for pupils and students and investigate the range of training and qualifications the staff undertaking these roles have received

(ii) in light of recent Government announcements placing mental health as a priority for education, investigate the impact this policy will have on already overstretched education budgets and resources

(iii) lobby Government to clarify its expectations of ‘mental health support’ in schools and to advise of the timescales of any future policy rollout.

  • Berkshire

THAT Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council commission research into the effectiveness of current guidance and legislation into the identification and support of female learners with neurodiversity.

Conference asks that, as part of the research, specific attention is paid to behavioural problems and ‘informal exclusions’ in relation to these learners, and in particular individuals identifying as female who have been identified as having ASD/ASC, ADHD or show behaviours indicating a similar condition to be present, highlighting any trends that could be addressed.

Conference further asks that the results of this research be used to update policy in relation to the identification and support of female learners with behaviour-affecting neurodiversity.

THAT Conference notes that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) currently employs 21,946 education staff to provide education for in excess of 515,000 refugee children across Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Syria. Alongside education, the UNRWA provides refugees and displaced families with access to primary health care; including pre-natal and other life saving services.

Conference has urgent concerns that these services are now under urgent threat following the US government announcement of a reduction of $300 million in their 2017 aid contribution from $360 million to only $60 million for this vital UN agency. With such a huge loss of funding it is highly likely that loss of funding would lead to closure of Schools and widespread redundancies further destabilising the region, leaving behind half a million children and young people. The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) noted that the reduced contribution “also impacts regional security at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalisation.”

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

  1. lobby the Government to work with its UN partners to address the shortfall in funding to UNRWA and to expedite current funding to ensure that no schools are closed
  2. investigate what further action could be taken by the NEU to support our international trade union colleagues and the pupils and students whom they serve

THAT conference notes the Welsh Government’s 9th March 2018 consultation announcement on a “Proposed mechanism for determining teachers’ pay and conditions” in Wales, in the form of an independent review body (“the teacher engagement model”) whose recommendations are subject to formal public consultation every year.

Conference is extremely concerned by the proposals that decisions and recommendations on teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales should be the subject of a full public consultation each year. Acceptance of this proposal will set a precedent that would raise concerns for public service employment as a whole.

Whatever model is settled upon, Conference believes that we should engage in the process of decision making on teachers’ pay and work to ensure that the devolution of school teachers’ pay and conditions will not further depress teachers’ pay in Wales.

Accordingly, Conference calls upon the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council take appropriate steps in Wales that seek to ensure that:

i) the First Minister will make good on his promise “that there is no question – no question at all – of teachers in Wales being paid less than teachers in England” and that teachers’ pay in Wales will keep pace with awards in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland

ii) the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary remove proposals for annual public consultation upon pay under whichever model is eventually decided upon

iii) the NEU will approach and work with other public sector trade unions to secure (ii) above

iv) pay awards for teachers in Wales will be fully funded by the Welsh Government

v) a national pay structure for teachers and senior leaders is retained with clear and transparent mechanisms for pay progression through national pay scales and a principle of pay portability between all schools in Wales

vi) existing national conditions of service are retained and enhanced;

vii) supply teachers employed in maintained schools will be guaranteed a minimum daily rate that reflects their experience and standing within the national pay structure including access and contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme 

viii) teachers’ pay will always include an element which compensates for compulsory registration fees to the Education Workforce Council.

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