Solidarity with our #Derbyuk Teaching Assistants: You can help by spreading the word and donating to the strike fund.

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In a major (and very brave) escalation, Derby teaching assistants are now on ALL OUT STRIKE over a 25% pay cut imposed last June. Last week Ranjit Banwait, leader of the Labour council, walked out of a full council meeting rather than face angry parents and TAs. He then walked out early from an ACAS meeting with UNISON the following day – to do prearranged media interviews condemning the negotiations!

Derby TAs are now calling on teachers and heads to help them close schools to bring about a swift resolution to this dispute – you can help by spreading the word and donating to the strike fund.

Make cheques payable to Derby City UNISON Industrial Action Fund and send to: UNISON Derby City Branch, Royal Oak House, Market Place, Derby DE1 3AR.


Children ‘in complete meltdown’ over exams

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Children ‘in complete meltdown’ over exams

Teachers in England seeing unprecedented levels of school-related anxiety, according to National Union of Teachers report

Pupils sit an exam
Teachers have complained that low achievement at tests or exams is also resulting in low motivation and low self-esteem. Photograph: David Jones/PA

Teachers in England are seeing unprecedented levels of school-related anxiety, stress and mental health problems among pupils of all age groups and abilities, particularly around test or exam time, according to a new report.

Children aged 10 or 11 are said to be “in complete meltdown”, in tears, or feeling sick during tests, and problems can be made worse by their competitive parents, according to the Exam Factories? report commissioned by the National Union of Teachers and conducted independently by Merryn Hutchings, emeritus professor at London Metropolitan University.

Teachers complain that low achievement at tests or exams is resulting in low motivation and low self-esteem. One secondary school teacher at an unnamed school said “self-harming is rife” at key stage 4 (14- to 16-year-olds) and reported that a pupil was hospitalised for three months in a psychiatric ward following a suicide attempt, another nearly starved herself to death and numerous other students “suffered from symptoms that are on the questionnaires that the NHS uses to diagnose depression”.

The report looks at how tests, exams, Ofsted inspections and other “accountability measures” are affecting schools. It includes responses from a survey of nearly 8,000 teachers, case studies of heads, other teachers (not all NUT members) and children, and a review of research and other literature.

Hutchings said: “The problems are caused by increased pressure from tests/exams, [children’s] greater awareness at younger ages of their own ‘failure’, and the increased rigour and academic demands of the curriculum.

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Solidarity with #NUT : Teachers on strike: war over ‘victimised’ union rep continues

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Teachers on strike: war over ‘victimised’ union rep continues

Julie Davies with striking teachers this morning

Julie Davies with striking teachers this morning

  • First published Wednesday 5 November 2014 in News

Teaching staff in two schools began prolonged strike action today over the suspension of a union representative.

Members of the National Union of Teachers at Fortismere and Highgate Wood Schools both formed picket lines in support of branch secretary Julie Davies.

The union says the dispute is over vicitimisation of Ms Davies, who was suspended for gross misconduct by Haringey Council earlier this year.

Helen Anthony, headteacher at Fortismere, and Patrick Cozier, headteacher at Highgate Wood, both signed a letter on behalf of secondary headteachers in the borough calling for the removal of Julie Davies as Haringey NUT secretary.

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Ding Dong The Gove Has Gone – Keep Up the Fight!

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Gove Has Gone – Keep Up the Fight!


Alex Kenny, NUT Executive Member, writes on the ousting of Gove, the importance of the NUT’s ‘social movement trade unionism’, and how the struggle for education must now grow in strength as  Gove’s and the Con-Dem government’s education policies remain intact.

So, six days after saying that the only teachers who disagree with him are bad ones, Michael Gove has been demoted with a £36,000 pay cut; the NUT can claim a lot of credit for this public humiliation.

It seems clear that Cameron removed Gove because they recognised that he had become an electoral liability, particularly amongst teachers – this is good news because, to a large extent, it was our campaigning that made him an electoral liability – a 9% public approval rating in the most recent poll.

The three parts of our campaign engaging parents, pressuring politicians and striking have all combined to create a situation where he had become so toxic he could no longer stay in office.

The NUT has campaigned against Gove’s policies like never before – aiming to learn lessons from our brothers and sisters in the Chicago Teachers Union and to develop a model of “social movement trade unionism”.

Hundreds of street stalls and local activities have been held and tens of thousands of parents have signed our Stand Up for Education petition, hundreds of MPs have been lobbied by teachers in their constituencies or at Parliament and we have taken more strike action than at any time in the Union’s history.

Politicians are more susceptible to pressure in the run-up to an election and there is no doubt that many MPs are very nervous as a result of our lobbying and the amount of correspondence they get from teachers and the families of teachers.

The fact that on BBC Question Time, two leading MPs opposed PRP and referred to our campaign and meeting teachers is testament to the effect this work has had.

Similarly our Stand UP for Education work has won the support of parents in their thousands and made sure that Gove’s approval rating amongst the public has stayed low.

In many places NUT activists teamed up with local People’s Assembly groups to run joint stalls and events in the run up to the national demonstration on June 21st – this helped build confidence amongst a new layer of activists and ensured that the NUT had a significant presence on the demonstration. We should look to continue that joint work into the autumn.

All of this public facing work has been backed up by effective, well supported, strike action and the media coverage and huge mobilisations in towns and cities all over the country have meant that we could no longer be ignored. Crucially, it also mean that we were able to build a lot of public support for the strike action as many parents understood our concerns.

Gove was supremely arrogant and thought he was untouchable, but he had become the Tories weakest link, a toxic brand, thanks, in no small part, to our work.

So, Gove has gone and teachers will celebrate but the battle goes on.

The Tories will be hoping that a new appointment will take the heat out of the education debate for a while and the fact that Nicky Morgan will take on the new role alongside her existing one, suggests there may be no new major policy announcements.

They will be hoping to soften the message and will aim for a “honeymoon” effect between now and the general election.

But, as others have said, the destructive policies, crushing workload and stifling of creativity are all still in place and we must redouble our efforts to build our campaign for a different kind of education.

Key to this will be developing an alternative vision of education around which we can mobilise popular support – key to that will be working with parents and relaunching the Stand Up for Education campaign in the autumn term.

To our credit, the NUT never made this about Gove but about his policies; we did play to his weaknesses and this affected public opinion.

Now our task is to make clear that, as much as teachers disliked the individual, it is the policies of the Con-Dem government to which we are so strongly opposed.

We need to relaunch Stand Up for Education with renewed vigour in September and make clear to Nicky Morgan that we are not going away.

But for now let’s celebrate Gove’s departure as a victory for the NUT, a new approach to campaigning, and a signal that we can make a difference and bring about change.

“I have never seen such genuine joy in my staff room as to hearing of the departure of Michael Gove. I am sure teachers everywhere are rejoicing at the news. But I know we cannot be complacent and think the fight is over. The new education secretary is the same breed as Gove but just happens to be a woman who hates equality.

Having voted against same sex marriage and supported the tripling of tuition fees I won’t hold my breath on any genuine reforms”

Faduma Hassan, teacher and NUT member, Barnet Primary School



#NUT National Union of Teachers’ statement on Birmingham #Trojanhorse

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National Union of Teachers’ statement on Birmingham

Here’s a statement from Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, on the Ofsted reports into Birmingham.

From an unsigned and undated letter has grown this so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.

The highly inflammatory deployment of an anti-terrorism chief to head up the inquiry, the unprecedented and clearly political inspection of 21 schools by Ofsted, and the public squabble between Theresa May and Michael Gove has not been positive for Birmingham schools and the children they educate.

There seems to be a redefinition of ‘extremism’ from the Secretary of State for Education, and as yet lots of speculation and not a little hyperbole.

What all this does show is that if schools sever their connection with a local authority, the levers to monitor or effect change available at local level are lost.

What is clearly needed is local authorities with powers to monitor and support schools, clear national agreement on the importance of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) and the need to promote community cohesion and the aim to create schools in which individuals feel at ease with themselves and are respectful of difference. Knee jerk reactions from government on the basis of personal predilections are not what is required.

Any issues which arise in a school should be capable of discussion and resolution at a local level and be addressed speedily and proportionately.

The charge of Islamophobia will stick to this affair unless the schools and their wider communities are seen to be engaged in the solution rather than castigated as being the problem.

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