NUT conference report

Inbar Tamari reports from NUT conference

In the last two days of conference the union debates and reached important decisions regarding funding education and implementing policies in and out of the union.

Inclusion and funding

Conference noted how changes in government led to inclusion from being the norm for educating learners with special educational needs to more and more children being educated in special schools.  Under the new code of Practice, many children whose disabilities were recognised under the old system are now unacknowledged and often   banished to small rooms or moved to special schools. Conference showed deep concern over the negative impact on the funding of special education as a result the changes in funding to local authorities education budgets. Conference supported levelling up any historical differences in budgets and called for escalating against the imposition of a national funding formula.

Conference noted the increase on children’s mental health as a result of  the exam  factory they toll under. early intervention and treatment could prevent some of the long term mental health difficulties. sadly, huge underfunding and cuts mean many have to wait months before being seen. Delegates also pointed out that much stress is caused by the government’s and council’s social cleansing policy, uprooting communities and relocating working class families from their homes, often in very short notice to new, often  unfamiliar locations.  When they arrive at their new accommodation, they often find themselves without a school place.

Say it Loud, Say it clear – Refugees and Migrants are welcome here!

On Friday, the union awarded the Blair Peach award to Ms. Baljeet Ghale for her her outstanding work as a champion for diversity and equality at every level of the Union, and in the wider community. Ms. Ghale, participated in the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ widespread poster campaign ahead of the 2015 General Election, in which Baljeet was one of many who said ‘I am an Immigrant’.

On Monday, conference debated a motion titled Racism and Migration. During the debate delegates  highlighted the needs of the refugees and migrants in the past and in the present as well as the  contribution made by immigrants to the fabric of our society. Speaker after speaker highlighted the importance and the urgency of welcoming refugees and migrants.

Conference applauded the work undertaken by  many members in all forms of aid to refugees and migrants including the  organising and running  the schools and lessons in the Calais Migrants Camp. They qualified this experience as life changing and urged others to join them.  Delegates highlighted the sad fact that Dover and Folkestone are being targeted by  fascist groups and called others to support the fight against them on the 2 and 23 of April.

Conference discussed the Prevent policy and its impact on children’s education and life. Conference noted the focus on Muslim children,  Childline reported an increase in racist attacks on Muslim children. School need to be a place where pupils can discuss a  range of issues in a safe environment. Sadly If  child shows concern of what is happening in Palestine they can be reported to prevent. Delegates  noted the panic and irrational thinking that often accompany reports to Prevent. One example was of a  teacher reading  a 4 years old child’s attempts of writing the cord cucumber as ‘cook a bomb’. Charity, may have been left at home that day.

Tests

Britain’s children are the most tested in Europe. Testing leads to the narrowing of the curriculum, workload, boredom, failure and poor mental health in students and teachers.. Demands on the timetable drops subjects which are difficult to test of the menu. Global Education Reform Movement, aptly named as  GERM is the leading force behind the Ed policy of our government.  If you treat kids as bits of machinery you need tests, a simple reductionist system that may fit machines but fail most children. There are so many things, the ones that actually matter, you cannot test. you can find a list on a FB page –

FB – you can’t test this

Together we can make a difference.

Commenting after the debate on Motion 32, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Excessive and age-inappropriate testing of our primary school pupils is causing stress for children and concern to teachers. Much of it demands that children learn content before they are ready and nearly all of it is squeezing the life and creativity out of the curriculum.

“The Government clearly has little idea how children develop and learn. If it had it would not be taking such a chaotic and confused approach to testing in our primary schools.

“A survey of NUT primary school members showed a staggering 97% believe the system is likely to brand children as failures and 86% that it has created a curriculum that is too narrow.

“Teachers raise concerns about testing in primary schools because they care about the children they teach and the education they receive. Primary schools should be vibrant places of learning where the success of all pupils is celebrated and encouraged. We need to see an end to the tests that stifle this and their replacement with a form of assessment that is teacher-led and child friendly.

– See more at: http://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/conference-2016/boycott-of-primary-school-testing#sthash.lr5GaM2D.dpuf

 

Six Form Colleges

I attended a lunchtime meeting on six form colleges. six form colleges were taken out if local authority control a long time ago. now, they are threatened with academisation. Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour government will  reversed this. Recently teachers in six form colleges went in strike defending education. They were taken to court as it was an invalid reason to go in strike. They won saying that defending teachers terms and conditions is the same as defending children’s learning conditions. The ballot was the most successful ever .

Teachers Shortage Crisis

Conference discussed the teachers shortage crisis. Half of teachers are considering leaving the profession. It’s not even erosion in salary. Changes in term and conditions, reduction of education to exam factory have driven them out of school.

In London, the crisis exacerbated   by the high cost of housing in the capital. As a result many young teachers live in crowded conditions or having to commute for  up to two hours each way.

 

 



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