Free school meals for migrant children

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 10:03

Gerry Bates

On 2 October, the Labour council in Lewisham, south London, agreed that no child in its schools would be denied a free school meal because of their parents’ immigration status.

“No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) policies deny many migrants access to a social safety net, including means-tested school meals.

The Labour Party is now committed to abolishing NRPF outright, after last week’s Labour conference voted near-unanimously last week for a migrants’ rights motion proposed by LCFM [the Labour Campaign for Free Movement]. NELMA (North East London Migrant Action) and LCFM (Labour Campaign for

Trump's miniature Gulag-on-the-border

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:09

Martin Thomas

This is Trump's USA, Trump's border. On 1 July Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the US Congress got to visit the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention centre in Clint, Texas.

CBP did some "cleaning up" before the members of Congress arrived. A group of women, pictured above, told Ocasio-Cortez that they were moved into the crowded room from outside tents before our arrival. "They said they’d gone 15 days without a shower, and were allowed to start bathing four days ago (when the visit was announced)".

The CBP people were openly hostile - a Facebook group including 9,500

Against “special needs” cuts

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:34

Janine Booth

On Thursday 30 May, campaigners protested at twenty-eight locations around the country, demanding the reversal of cuts to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) funding. Organised mainly by parents and SEND kids, protests ranged from a handful of people with a banner to hundreds on town hall steps.

The centrepiece saw several thousand campaigners gather outside 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition. The National Education Union supported and promoted the protests, and its members turned out with banners in several locations. RMT also supported the protests. In some areas, Labour

Against “exam factories”!

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 09:02

Duncan Morrison (assistant NEU secretary, Lewisham, in personal capacity)

The National Education Union (NEU) is balloting its primary school members between 4 June and 12 July over whether to boycott high stakes summative testing (HSST) in primary schools.

What is HSST?

“Summative” means that the main purpose is to attach a score to what has been learnt, not to inform future learning and teaching. “High stakes” means that the school and school workers are measured by that score. The tests are used to compile league tables of schools, and those in turn play in to the marketisation of education. Testing is also big business: companies make a lot of money selling

Two-and-a-half cheers for neurodiversity

Published on: Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:30

Janine Booth

Since autistic activist Judy Singer coined the term “neurodiversity” some twenty years ago, it has facilitated a great enlightenment and a progressive new approach to the experiences and rights of autistic and other neurologically atypical people. It is now facing a backlash, much of which is reactionary but some of which has been helped by flaws in some presentations of neurodiversity. Here, I examine some of these issues.

This article references autism more than other neurodivergent conditions because this is the area in which most of these arguments take place. I conclude that an effective

Campaign renews NEU

Published on: Wed, 22/05/2019 - 10:36

Duncan Morrison (assistant NEU secretary, Lewisham, in personal capacity)

National Education Union (NEU) districts across the country are gearing up for the indicative ballot to boycott high-stakes summative testing in primary schools, which will open on 4 June and close on 2 July. It is clear the campaign is having a hugely invigorating effect on many NEU districts.

Reports abound of large meetings with primary members who have not been active before turning up, and many signing up to be reps in schools where previously there were none. In Lewisham we had a meeting of 30 with around 20 members who had not been to a meeting before. We signed up three new reps on

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 07:20

Ollie Moore and Katy Dollar

Tube win against cuts

Cuts had been planned by London Underground to train maintenance schedules, to reduce the frequency of train safety checks, from 24-hourly to 96-hourly, or up to monthly or more on some lines. Fleet maintenance workers in the RMT union had set strikes for 17-20 May. RMT had also planned to demonstrate outside London’s City Hall on 16 May, highlighting Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s failure to resist Tory cuts to Transport for London’s budget.

RMT reported on 14 May that the maintenance schedule cuts had been withdrawn, and has suspended action. Union general secretary Mick

Schools: the most vulnerable lose out

Published on: Wed, 10/04/2019 - 12:36

Ralph Higgins

By the government’s own reckoning, over 2,000 pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities are not getting access to necessary resources and equipment because of funding cuts.

Since 2015 £5.4 billion has been cut from school budgets in England. The most vulnerable have been hit hardest.

A recent report by IPPR North found that SEND [Special Educational Needs and Disability] funding has been cut by 17% across England since 2015. The number of SEND and disability tribunal hearings has doubled in the past two years, with the decision favouring parents in 89 per cent of their cases.


Tories run scared on LGBT+ education

Published on: Wed, 10/04/2019 - 10:36

David Pendletone

On 1 April, the BBC news website reported that 85 Head teachers from Birmingham had met with officials from the Department of Education.

The meeting followed protests by parents in Birmingham about the implementation of the new curriculum in Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) for primary schools. The new curriculum teaches children that there are different kinds of families, including families where the adults are in lesbian or gay relationships.

The BBC quoted an anonymous Head who said: "We feel completely alone here and feel as if we're getting no overt support whatsoever from the

Speaking out on LGBT+ inclusive education

Published on: Tue, 09/04/2019 - 17:30

Khakan Qureshi spoke to Gemma Short and Kate Harris about protests against No Outsiders and LGBT+ inclusive education in Birmingham.

My name is Khakan Qureshi, I’ve worked in social care for the last 20 years across the spectrum of vulnerable adults, and I currently work with the homeless. I founded the first LGBT+ south Asian support group in Birmingham which is now five years old. I became involved in the situation at Parkfield and Anderton Park schools by tweeting my responses and thoughts on the protests, the BBC invited me onto the Big Questions show to discuss the issue. Andrew Moffat

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