Schools

Teachers: all out on 5 July!

Author: 

Patrick Murphy, National Union of Teachers Executive (personal capacity)

Members of the largest teaching, union, the NUT, will take strike action on 2 July in England to demand nationally agreed terms and conditions for all teachers in all state-funded local authority and academy schools.

Members of the largest teaching, union, the NUT, will take strike action on 2 July in England to demand nationally agreed terms and conditions for all teachers in all state-funded local authority and academy schools.

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What "balancing the budget" means

Author: 

Martin Thomas

"Crikey, had a great 'win' last week which sent some parents into a storm", boasted Mark Small on Twitter in mid-June.

His firm is a contractor which is paid by local councils to fight parents' claims to get Special Educational Needs provision for their children. As the Guardian puts it, "its success rests on its ability to help cash-strapped local authorities cut the costs of SEN provision".

It also sells training to council officials to help them minimise SEN provision.

A lawyer boasts about how many Special Education Needs applications he has blocked.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Gemma Short, Luke Hardy, Peggy Carter, Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens and Neil Laker

Workers at Pennine Foods in Sheffield have suspended their strikes after negotiations meant bosses agreed not to implement changes to their contracts. Negotiations also got bosses to agree to all employees receiving a lump sum for their 2015 pay rise. Negotiations will continue on the contract and further strikes are not ruled out. The contract changes at Pennine Foods were in order for bosses to try to recoup some of the money from implementing the government′s new ″living wage″.

Bosses dodge “living wage”; Camden teachers striking to stop job cuts; bosses make £11m profit, workers get 16p; cleaners fight back against sackings; ScotRail guards vote for strikes; Durham County Council sacks all teaching assistants; Capita workers strike over pay cuts.

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Lewisham fights academisation... again

Last year, teachers, students and parents in Lewisham ran a campaign that successfully fought off the threat of academisation to four schools in the borough. Activists were confident that this left them in a good position to launch a vibrant campaign against the government’s proposals for forced-academisation contained in the recent White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere.

Teachers, parents and students are fighting back against the conversion of schools into “exam factories”, with “success” measured by grades and the amount of money siphoned off to the bosses and their cronies.

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Academies: force a real u-turn!

Author: 

Patrick Murphy, National Union of Teachers Executive (personal capacity)

Facing a storm of protest, the government announced on 6 May what appeared to be a significant U-turn. Legislation to force academy status was dropped.

However, the Tories have not retreated from their objective to turn all schools into academies. They will now pursue this aim through a number of different routes.

Forced academies are an attack on local democracy. They remove the role of local elected councils in managing the school system, replacing them with private organisations with no accountability (and no requirement for governors).

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Education, not exam factories!

Author: 

Editorial

Between 16 May and 29 June, students in Britain’s schools will write around 16 million exam papers. A scurry of marking will then, in August, produce a stream of gradings, which will be used to exert market-type discipline on students, teachers, and schools.

Notionally exams are a way to test knowledge and skills. Exams which really do that, and certify people as competent to be surgeons or surveyors, make sense. But the school exams are only the basis for a vast sorting exercise.

Notionally exams are a way to test knowledge and skills. Exams which really do that, and certify people as competent to be surgeons or surveyors, make sense. But the school exams are only the basis for a vast sorting exercise.

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Forced Academies U-turn: only half a victory

Author: 

Patrick Murphy

Nicky Morgan's announcement that she was withdrawing proposals to legislate to force all schools to become academies was both a real success and a major danger to the campaign against forced academies.

On 6 May, Nicky Morgan announced that, as a result of listening to MPs, teachers, school leaders and parents, she has decided that, while reaffirming our continued determination to see all schools become academies in the next 6 years, that it is not necessary to bring legislation to bring about blanket conversion of all schools to achieve this goal.

Nicky Morgan's announcement that she was withdrawing proposals to legislate to force all schools to become academies was both a real success and a major danger to the campaign against forced academies.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Gemma Short, Ruth Cashman, Charlotte Zalens and Peggy Carter

UCU at the University of Nottingham is balloting for industrial action against threatened compulsory redundancies in the Faculty of Arts.

The University that claims to be Britain's global university wants to reduce its offer in archaeology, and theology and religious studies, and close language courses including Dutch. 11.5 FTE posts are at risk. The student body is up in arms over the threat. They have organised several protests, a petition and a Facebook group: Resist Restructuring Nottingham.

Anger at Nottingham University; victory at the John Roan School; Lambeth libraries; lecturers to strike over pay; stop victimisation at London Met; Hands off our weekends!; cabin crew fight for breaks

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A failed attempt to silence

Author: 

Martin Thomas

On Wednesday 4 May the government sacked Natasha Devon from her unpaid post as mental health champion for schools. Evidently it concluded that the parents protest the day before against excessive testing, when thousands kept Year 2 children off school, showed that Devon was having too much effect.

Anxiety is the fastest growing illness in under-21s, and three students in the average school classroom have a diagnosed mental illness.

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Don’t let the Tories recover!

Author: 

Editorial

A rising mood that cuts are not inevitable, a rising anger against economic inequality, and a rising confidence that alternatives are possible, has damaged the Tories in recent months.

Ian Duncan Smith resigned, demagogically spilling the truth that the Tories have been victimising the worst-off to benefit the rich. That was one of the side-products of the Tories’ splits over Europe, which have seen Tory right-wingers suddenly “discovering” that the NHS is underfunded and suggesting Britain’s EU budget contributions could fill the gap.

A rising mood that cuts are not inevitable, a rising anger against economic inequality, and a rising confidence that alternatives are possible, has damaged the Tories in recent months.

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