Education unions

Abolish GCSEs, turn the tide on toxic testing

Over the last ten years Workers’ Liberty school workers have been at the forefront of pushing the debate about testing in schools in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and in its successor the National Education Union (NEU). In 2019 we wrote a motion passed at the NEU’s national conference which committed the union to an indicative ballot of members to boycott the statutory tests in primary schools. The ballot result was strong, but sadly not built upon. Last year, we wrote a motion, passed with amendments, that committed the union to call for the abolition of GCSEs. On 23 October Joint...

Support the university strikes!

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) across fifty-eight universities will strike on 1-3 December in two parallel national disputes. In some (primarily older, pre-92) institutions the strike is over a cut to pensions that could see members lose up to 35% of guaranteed benefits on top of previous substantial cuts. In others the focus of the dispute is on the “Four Fights”: pay, equality, casualisation, and workload. Some universities are striking in both disputes. Over the past twelve years, pay has fallen twenty per cent in real terms due to below-inflation rises, at the same time...

Surprise vote in NEU

The Deputy General Secretary (DGS) election in the National Education Union (NEU) has been won by "moderate" candidate Niamh Sweeney. It had been expected that Gawain Little of the “NEU Left” would win. Workers’ Liberty supported Martin Powell-Davies, the candidate of the rank-and-file Education Solidarity Network, and we advocated a transfer to Sweeney to stop Little. Little is a prominent member of Communist Party of Britain, with all that entails. In the first round Little got 9,953, Powell-Davies 6,724, and Sweeney 11,035. Sweeney got around 60% of Powell-Davies’s second preferences...

Vote Martin Powell-Davies in NEU!

Voting in the election for the first ever elected Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) opens on 4 October, with ballot papers being sent to members’ homes. Voting closes on 29 October. Socialists, rank and file activists, and members should vote for Martin Powell-Davies, the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) candidate. Martin is standing on a 10-point manifesto: 1. Action to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff and our communities from Covid-19 2. End excessive workload, and end the high stakes testing that drives so much of it. 3. A Union that builds...

Back Martin Powell-Davies in NEU

Nominations close on 13 September for the newly created Deputy General Secretary role in the National Education Union (NEU). All three candidates already have at least 15 Districts, the number they need to ensure they are on the ballot paper. Martin Powell-Davies is the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) candidate. The ESN is a rank and file organisation fighting for a more democratic, militant and industrial union. Workers’ Liberty is centrally involved with the ESN. Gawain Little is the candidate of the mis-named “NEU Left”, the group that currently control the union. Gawain is also a long...

Pimlico Academy: near a tipping point

On 8 June, National Education Union (NEU) members at Pimlico Academy (London) held their first strike day. A sunny Tuesday morning saw a strong turnout from members, with the picket line stretching all the way down the road. Workers carried placards with slogans including: “kick racism out of school...

Pimlico Academy: near a tipping point

On 8 June, National Education Union (NEU) members at Pimlico Academy (London) held their first strike day. A sunny Tuesday morning saw a strong turnout from members, with the picket line stretching all the way down the road. Workers carried placards with slogans including: “kick racism out of school”; “kick islamophobia out of school” and “hold the Nashes accountable”. Lord John Nash, Tory peer and former Academies and Free Schools Minister, and Lady Caroline Nash are Future Academies Trustees and the main force behind the Trust. Lady Nash, for instance, is the leading figure in the Trust’s in...

Reject "catch up" blather: fight school cuts!

On 2 June the government announced a £1.4bn “Covid Catch-up” programme for pupils and students, to cover up to six million sets of 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils and expansion of an existing fund for helping 16- to 19-year-olds with subjects such as English and maths. Kevan Collins, the government’s “Catch-up tsar” resigned after the announcement. According to the Financial Times, he and education secretary Gavin Williamson wanted to pay teachers to extend the school day by 30 minutes, and that was vetoed by chancellor Rishi Sunak on grounds of cost. Sunak spent £0.84...

Batley, blasphemy and the religious right

After the Batley Grammar School row, which led to protests outside the school, teachers being suspended, and one going into hiding for his own safety, the teachers have been reinstated. On 27 May an independent investigation commissioned by Batley Multi Academy Trust found that teaching staff at Batley Grammar School who had shown one of the Charlie Hebdo images of Mohammed “genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit, and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence. The image was included to initiate a discussion about the meaning of...

Three wins, two setbacks

The United Learning academy chain has pulled back from dismissing teacher and National Education Union (NEU) activist Kirstie Paton.

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