The Deputy General Secretary reported that in response to the NUT’s campaigning, Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg have announced a “workload challenge” consultation. More than 29,000 teachers have already responded to the survey, which closes on November 21st.
Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg have promised to put forward proposals that will reduce teacher workload in the New Year. It was acknowledged that if they are to convince teachers that this is more than a cynical election ploy, there will have to be real movement and this must be based on professional respect, not ,for example, on the introduction of standardized commercial lesson plans.
The actions agreed by the Executive could reduce excessive hours quickly, in some cases with little or no cost. However the roots of the workload problem were deep, and fundamental actions are required by Government. It was noted that the action points should apply to all state funded schools and colleges, whatever their status and should be implemented in consultation and negotiation with the teacher organizations. The Executive agreed an Action Programme which will be publicised to all members and local officers.
Personally, I feel that unless the workload challenge is going to lead to a proper reform of the values underpinning this high stakes, market orientated system with its punitive inspection regime, we may face find ourselves facing a tinkering around the edges, which does not resolve the underlying problems at the heart of the system
Let’s hope that this is really a genuine move by the government to begin wholesale reform.
SUSPENSION OF HARINGEY LOCAL SECRETARY
The chairperson of the Action Sub-Committee, Jerry Glazier, reported on the latest in the case of Julie Davies, the Haringey NUT Secretary, who had been suspended by the local authority. A number of schools in the borough were supporting a ballot for sustained strike action in opposition to the local authority’s actions and one school had taken action the previous day. The Daily Mail printed a very unfair portrayal of Julie on Wednesday 12th of November on its front page, which seemed to me part of a nasty smear campaign.
TUC WOMEN’S COMMITTEE AND CONFERENCE
Heather McKenzie was elected as the Union’s nominee to the TUC Women’s Committee. Heather will join Marilyn Bater, Philipa Harvey, Anne Lemon and Jane Nellist as delegates to the TUC Women’s Conference due to take place 11 to 13 March 2015. The Executive agreed the text of two motions to the TUC Women’s Conference on the subjects of Achieving a Work-life Balance and Working through the Menopause.
LONDON ASSEMBLY REPORT
The Executive agreed a response to the London Assembly Education Panel’s report on London Learners; London Lives. The response particularly highlighted the need for the Government to sufficiently fund local authorities to provide adequate school places and abandon the academy and free school approach which further fragmented the system and unnecessarily complicated the efficient planning of pupil places.
EXECUTIVE MOTIONS TO ANNUAL CONFERENCE
The Executive agreed two international motions for Annual Conference on International Solidarity and International Disability Rights. Motions on Sex and Relationships Education and School Leadership were brought from the Education and Equalities Committee and agreed. Finally, the Executive endorsed the text of a motion from the Salaries, Superannuation, Employment Conditions and Rights Committee on Supply Teachers.
LAY OFFICER SUPPORT
The Organizing and Membership Committee agreed a paper on practical, preventative measures to support lay officers in their work on behalf of the Union, including training and support on team building at division level.
OFSTED NEW FRAMEWORK
The Equalities sub committee discussed the Ofsted
New framework document: ‘Better Inspection For All’ at length. Primarily, the new framework will introduce shorter but more frequent inspections for good schools,
a common inspection framework for all stages in the system, a greater role for HMI and an abandonment of the outsourcing of inspection.
There will be greater emphasis on safeguarding, the suitability of the curriculum, and preparation for life and work.
Ofsted is consulting on this document ( please go to Ofsted website to express views online) , including whether there should be a separate inspection judgement on the curriculum in Schools.
I voiced concerns that age related standards were still being used as a measurement to assess progress and that short inspections for good schools could lead to a data driven culture with the consequence of exacerbating the already over bearing testing culture.
In addition, I also attended an NUT seminar on the new framework, where Mike Cladingbowl, National Director of Inspection Reform at Ofsted, was the keynote speaker.
He started his address by saying that he was in favour of a broad based education and he expressed a dislike of assessment becoming synonymous with accountability. I asked, in the Q and A session, how we were to avoid the narrowing of the curriculum, that seems to be happening in some schools, where Arts and Humanities subjects such as MFL, Drama, Music, History and Geography are having curriculum time cut. The response was that government should not prescribe curriculum share for subjects but that the inspection framework was the way forward in encouraging the right balance.
I have concerns that this new framework does not go far enough in addressing these issues and that , in fact, a high stakes inspection regime, of itself, can provoke knee jerk reactions on curriculum content,, when the inspection is based around a results driven culture.
I think we may be returning to a grammar school/ secondary modern situation in some parts of Surrey and West Sussex too, where some Schools are still offering a broad based curriculum and others are not.
Jackie Baker ( Executive member for Surrey and West Sussex.)
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