Wednesday at Conference 2018

What happened on the last day of Conference.

The last session of Conference included an address by Niamh Sweeney, ATL section president, and the presentation of the Rep of the Year awards, sponsored by Affinity. The Conference finished with a vote of thanks.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference is extremely concerned at the high numbers of students who report that they have experienced sexual harassment in schools. While some schools may address these issues, quietly on an individual basis, there is a lack of school policy and Government policy that address the issues of sexual harassment faced by students at school. Schools need to adapt in order to address these issues within the school RSE curriculum. The National Education Union should represent a collective voice on this matter when the national curriculum for RSE is being developed.

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

(i) create a report looking into how schools tackle sexual harassment in schools, and share best practices that emerge on how to educate our students on these issues

(ii) offer guidance for schools on how they can address these issues in their school behaviour policies

(iii) recommend resources for schools to discuss the issue of sexual harassment within the RSE curriculum for schools. This is necessary to help students who have experienced sexual harassment manage the onslaught of news about sexual harassment also seen in the media.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference believes that many portrayals of trans people in the media over recent years can only be described as appalling. Consistently transphobic media coverage has highlighted the level of ignorance and the lack of understanding of trans people’s rights.

Too often the focus is on trans people’s transition. Society views trans people through a medical model, looking to ‘fix’ trans people rather than questioning society’s narrowly defined views on men, women, boys and girls. Many people fail to recognise how high levels of discrimination make it harder for trans people to gain and retain employment, access public services and thrive in schools and colleges.

Trans hate crimes do not have parity in the law with other hate crimes, there is no offence for stirring up hatred against trans people as there is for race, religion or sexual orientation.

The absence of legal protections makes it more difficult to challenge inappropriate behaviour or teaching and sends a clear message that trans issues are not given the same importance as others.

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

(i) conduct research into the barriers trans teachers face to gaining employment/entering the profession/progressing their careers

(ii) disseminate clear, accessible guidance to schools and colleges so that they understand their duties under the public sector equality duty and the rights of trans people under the Equality Act 2010

(iii) work with other organisations to provide training for reps, district and branch secretaries, and regional officials on supporting trans members, and CPD for members on supporting trans students and challenging gender stereotypes

(iv) actively support trans educational professionals by enabling broader representation, awareness and visibility of trans people in union structures

(v) lobby Government for parity of hate crime legislation for all protected characteristics

(vi) lobby Government for implementation of the recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee Transgender Equality report for changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004

(vii) continue to lobby Government for statutory PSHE that includes trans issues and gender issues generally

  • Individual Members

THAT Conference believes that access to safe, free, legal abortion is crucial to women’s and girls’ educational, economic, and social equality. Barriers to abortion services are barriers to women’s and girls’ rights. Fifty years on from the 1967 Abortion Act, women and girls still face unacceptable delays, threats of violence and intimidation, inaccurate and misleading information and unequal access to abortion services.

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

(i) adopt a pro-choice position on abortion rights that is inclusive of all people who need to access abortion services (trans men; non-binary and gender non-conforming people) in all regions of the UK

(ii) lobby Government to ensure that reproductive rights and women’s health are taught as an essential element of the RSE and PSHE curriculum to ALL secondary and post-16 students regardless of their gender, delivered by trained teachers and supported by local sexual health services (iii) signpost age-appropriate and good-quality teaching resources and training opportunities to members

(iv) oppose attempts by anti-choice groups to present inaccurate and misleading information in schools and colleges

(v) support the work of the campaigning group Abortion Rights.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference wishes to clarify the meaning of Black as anyone who is a person of colour. This definition is important because it is not a term solely reserved for those of dark skin and principally from the African continent. This distinction is made in order to understand the unconscious bias faced by all people of colour.

The ATL section of the National Education Union must better facilitate representation of Black members to aim to ensure they are represented across union structures. Amplifying underrepresented voices must be a priority. All such members must be encouraged and supported to be more involved and actively informed that this is a union for them, listening to their concerns and representing their needs.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to:

(i) educate members about the term Black, why it is used and who it encompasses

(ii) ensure the active recruitment of underrepresented members

(iii) provide events to encourage activism and participation in elections and nominations for these members and engage more Black members both locally and nationally

(iv) encourage the concept of ally-ship so members use their influence to support people who are targets of oppression in their workplaces

(v) encourage schools and colleges to highlight the positive contributions the Black community has made to society and explore a less Eurocentric curriculum all year round, not just during Black History Month

(vi) work closely with AMiE to educate members about unconscious bias/social positioning and address the underrepresentation of Black people in leadership positions.

  • Executive Committee

THAT Conference welcomes the Welsh Government’s amended timetable for the implementation and first teaching of the new curriculum to allow for more time in the development stage.

Conference also notes the recent Children, Young People and Education Committee Report, Conclusions 1 and 4, which state that “the education workforce is not currently prepared for the implementation of the new curriculum […]” and “Teachers’ professional development should be valued in its own right, and recognised as tool [sic] for support teacher growth, rather than as a performance management tool”.

In light of this, Conference regrets that the implementation process so far has not enabled more practitioners to become involved in the ‘Pioneer school’ process and asks the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) lobby the Welsh Government to take steps to ensure that the introduction of the new curriculum is measured and adequately resourced and to undertake ongoing dialogue with practitioners in order to ensure its future success

(ii) call on Professor Graham Donaldson to take a whole-systems approach to his review of Estyn, and use this opportunity to have an amnesty on Estyn inspections while the Curriculum for Wales is introduced

(iii) call on the Welsh Government to ensure that all practitioners have access to appropriate professional learning to help them develop their practice and ensure readiness for the new curriculum.

  • Wiltshire

THAT Conference is concerned about the consistency of examination marking for public exams. In particular, Conference is concerned about:

(a) the qualifications and experience of some exam-markers and the associated standards of exam-marking

(b) the escalating costs of re-marks to schools and individuals.

Conference is also concerned that these costs can often disadvantage students from less privileged backgrounds, especially when GCSE and A-level subjects can have multiple units that need paying for individually. Conference therefore believes the cost of re-marks is preventing some students from being able to secure places at their chosen university.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council work with other professional associations to:

(i) lobby for a system whereby the consistency and accuracy of marking ensures that the number of re-marks is significantly reduced

(ii) lobby for clear standards to be required so that examiners are adequately qualified to mark examination papers

(iii) seek to cap the cost of re-marks

(iv) ensure that funding is made available in schools to support disadvantaged students for remarking

(v) lobby the exam boards to publish the data on the success rates of re-marks

(vi) research and publish data on how much is spent on re-marks.

  • Norfolk

THAT conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council carry out research into the extent to which the falsification of data is being used to wildly inflate grades, and the impact this is having on target-setting, league tables and performance-related pay

  • Executive Committee

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE THAT Conference notes with concern that the new Year 4 online multiplication check will be introduced in the academic year starting September 2019, with very little support from education professionals.

Further, Conference believes that this test will do nothing to improve pupils’ understanding of maths. Instead it will:

(a) cause more anxiety for our eight- and nine-year-old pupils

(b) increase the time pupils spend on test preparation rather than real learning

(c) add to the workload of teachers and support staff Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council:

(i) lobby the Government to undertake and publish an impact assessment of this policy on:

a. the workload of support staff and teachers

b. schools, with regard to online access

c. SEND students.

(ii) research, with other unions where possible, what implementing the multiplication tables check will mean to schools

(iii) if the research supports it, campaign to stop the introduction of this assessment.

  • Devon

THAT Conference believes that the introduction of a four-year key stage 4 in some schools may have led to the narrowing of experiences for key stage 3 students.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council investigate the impact of this on:

(a) the well-being of staff and students

(b) results at GCSE

(c) key stage 3 in general.

  • Berkshire

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

(i) research the most effective ways to support disadvantaged highly able learners, and their educators

(ii) create a policy for the identification, differentiation and challenge for learners who are highly able

(iii) campaign against Government policy in England that perpetuates notions of fixed ability, including the rejection of the narrative of linear progress

(iv) lobby the Government to update English legislation, guidance and terminology in relation to identifying and supporting learners who are highly able.

  • Inner London

THAT Conference believes that the Government must take steps to prevent parents selectively withdrawing their children; specifically, from the teaching of individual religions.

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

(i) work with the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) to determine the nature and extent of the selective use of the right of withdrawal

(ii) lobby Government to take steps to prevent this practice.

  • Inner London

THAT Conference recognises that the teaching of RSE is vital to the health and well-being of our society.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council call on the Government to remove section 405 of the Education Act 1996, which gives parents the right to withdraw their children from RSE, in order to ensure all children access the RSE they need to keep them healthy, happy and safe.

  • ESSEX, SOUTHEND AND THURROCK

THAT Conference notes the continued uncertainty as to what Brexit means and how it will affect the educational opportunities afforded to learners in the United Kingdom.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council lobby the Government to ensure that all European educational programmes currently available to citizens of the UK, such as the Erasmus programme, continue to be accessible and remain funded to the same level as for all European citizens.

THAT Conference notes, with profound alarm, the conclusion of the independent accountants' recent annual benchmarking report on Academy finances (Kreston UK, March 2018); specifically that the entire sector is within two years of insolvency.

Conference expresses deep concern that this follows equally critical reports from the Audit Commission and the Public Accounts Committee and recognises the devastating impact of this inadequate funding is equally applicable across all school and college settings, from Early Years to post-16; arising from a deliberate policy of funding restraint, which can be seen powerfully illustrated through the public presentation of the DfE's data on the School Cuts website.

Conference acknowledges the unprecedented impact of these funding cuts on class sizes, curriculum diversity, staff workload and teacher retention. Further, Conference instructs the Executive Committee to put forward to the Joint Executive Council that the Joint Executive Council call for an immediate, public and unqualified assurance from the Secretary of State for Education regarding the Government's commitment to provide the funding that our schools and colleges need, and learners deserve.

THAT Conference notes that although a consultation began with staff from the legacy NUT and ATL sections in February 2018 regarding NEU national and regional staffing and operational structures (due to become operational in September 2018), no arrangements have yet been made for existing members of the NUT section holding leadership roles to transfer their membership to AMiE.

Conference reaffirms the strong endorsement given at the 2016 Special Conference for continuing AMiE’s mission to champion ethical leadership under a specialist national banner with the same breadth of member benefits and supports within an NEU for all education professionals.

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

  1. immediately institute processes to facilitate the transfer of NUT members holding leadership posts to AMiE to ascertain clearly the true size of the leader membership
  2. consult all members in the leadership section on their priorities to inform revision of legacy AMiE policies and practice in line with the aims of the NEU
  3. pursue with vigour opportunities for closer working relationships and potential mergers with other education based leadership trade unions
  4. ensure that AMiE, as the leadership and management section, should enjoy an equivalent position in the NEU as it does currently in the ATL section and that this be written into the rules.

Conference sessions

Find out more about the other sessions of Conference.