Education unions

Schools: recovery, not catch-up

According to the Daily Mail on 27 June, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson used a speech to Tory backbenchers to describe the largest and most vocal schools union, the National Education Union (NEU), as “the No Education Union”. This follows attempts by Boris Johnson to blame the NEU for the low numbers of children returning to school after 1 June, the date announced as the start of wider reopening. The government know there is huge frustration at the lengthy closure of schools and the lack of any clear idea as to when that might change. They understand the risk that, if parents blame them...

Support the Tower Hamlets strikers

Tower Hamlets Labour council intends to implement a plan, “Tower Rewards”, to sack its entire 4,000-strong workforce — carers, caretakers, children’s centre workers, housing and homelessness workers, refuse workers, cleaners, social workers, teaching assistants and many, many others — and re-employ only those who will accept substantially worse terms and conditions.

A ragged 1 June, but schools union grows

By a primary school teacher and NEU activist in Lewisham.

On 30 May, four scientists from the government’s SAGE advisory group went public saying that the Tories’ easing of the lockdown, including the wider opening of schools, is unwise at this time.

The number of cases and the infection rate...

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to partially open schools on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised. While we all want children back in schools, as soon as safe enough, that is good. Success in resisting unsafe reopening is dependent on union strength on the ground. We must fight for rank-and-file school worker control over the strategy, locally and nationally.

Children, parents, school workers: stand together!

The education unions are right to say schools should not accept further mass return of pupils until the five tests are met. We should fully support any school workers who will take action on health and safety grounds from 1 June to keep their workplaces open only to vulnerable and key workers’ children. That does not mean we, or school workers, are oblivious to how difficult school closures have been on families. Solidarity has covered, and will continue to cover, the increased risk of domestic violence and neglect in a stressful period with less contact between the household and the outside...

Unite, schools and 1 June

The big union Unite has signed up to the “education unions' statement on the safe reopening of schools". This statement calls on the government “to step back from 1 June” and identifies the following core principles: • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families...

Debate on the NEU and balloting

1. Todd Hamer To the casual observer there is something very odd about what is happening in the National Education Union. For some weeks the NEU leadership has rightly argued that it would be unsafe to reopen schools until there is a lower number of Coronavirus cases making possible tracing and testing (Test 1 of the NEU’s famous 5 Tests). Many people think this is very reasonable and nobody expects it to be achieved by 1 June. But instead of organising national refusal to work, the NEU has busied its reps with a 22 page checklist which is supposed to reveal whether it is safe for their...

It's your right to refuse unsafe work

Watch the video of the article on this page: As workers are encouraged to return to the workplace, as part of the government’s botched and reckless easing of lockdown measures, an urgent discussion is taking place across workplaces and through unions about resisting a lurch back to work in unsafe conditions. School workers’ unions are organising to resist a planned reopening from 1 June of schools (beyond the vulnerable and key workers’ children for whom they have remained open throughout. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, and some other Labour councils have said they support the...

Schools and the Tories' 1 June

On Sunday 10 May, in a pre-recorded message, Boris Johnson, stated the government’s desire to open primary schools to all Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils on 1 June. He also said he hoped that Year 10 and Year 12 would be able to get some face to face contact in the near future. Further guidance from the government then added nursery age children in primary schools to that list. The announcement was shocking and reckless, and sent a paroxysm of fear through school workers, particularly in primary schools. The science for the “reopening” seemed very weak at best. Recognising (as primary...

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