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GENERAL SECRETARY’S REPORT TO HARLOW+EPPING FOREST AGM 2017
Every year that I write a report I seem to consider how increasingly difficult teaching is becoming. 2016 was no exception. More Government initiatives and targets – more pressure from Essex LA and Academy Chains on Heads leading to more pressure, stress and anxiety for teachers. Little surprise that teachers, young and old, continue to desert the profession in droves. However – Harlow+Epping Forest NUT continues to thrive and our membership is up to 1135. Nationally the big news for us was the result of Special NUT & ATL Conferences which will see a ballot proposing a new (NEU) education union 440,000 strong. This is a very positive move towards a single united Education Union. Huge progress.
Personally a lack of facilities time has continued to make it very difficult to do my NUT roles as well as I’d like. A proposed hosting deal was scuppered by Essex but I have high hopes of a new deal for 2017. In the meantime, I would like to thank Agnes Bishop, Braintree, for picking up all the cases that I could not do. We went through 2016 without an Association President and there are no proposals for a new one for 2017. That’s disappointing – however Anne Adnitt, Liam Manning, Rosie Kelly and Alice Fonda have all helped me keep the Association running effectively. Due to very poor attendance, and a lack of time on my part, we have not been running regular meetings – however I am happy to resurrect meetings in 2017 wherever there is demand – whether that is in Harlow, Epping, Loughton or Chigwell.
I was delighted to represent Eastern England NUT at September TUC Conference. While there I attended the NUT/ATL session where Shadow Education Secretary – Angela Rayner was guest speaker (she also spoke to TUC). Angela is an excellent speaker and the most supportive advocate for NUT policies. Just a shame that new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, does not share her views.
We continue to have a shrinking army of School Reps. Some new Reps have come forward – in some cases people are sharing the role – but overall we continue to have poor coverage in the Association. Trade Unionism is meant to be a bottom up movement – meetings in the workplace can most effectively collectively challenge issues in that workplace. Most Heads actually appreciate a staff representative that can talk on behalf of many teachers – it makes their jobs easier. I will continue to promote and encourage the vital role of School Rep in our workplaces this year.
Conference, at Brighton was well attended with H+E NUT, as usual, taking up our full allocation of delegates with 5 members. Thank you to Lee Pickering, Alice Fonda, Liam Manning and Rosie Kelly for attending, with me, and participating effectively. We were also represented at the Supply Teachers’ and Young Teachers’ Conferences and at the summer National Education Conference. Members are always welcome to attend NUT Conferences – we will always support you. We have also have had a number of members attending NUT courses which was great. Hopefully in 2017 we’ll see further participation and I look forward to the possibility of delegates to LGBT+, Black Teachers’, Disabled Teachers’ and Retired Teachers’ Conferences.
With fewer teachers taking the PGCE route into teaching now recruitment via University has had an obvious dip for the NUT. It is important that new trainees are approached and recruited in schools – not just for numbers but, more importantly, so that support can be given when required and appreciation developed of the value of trade union membership. To this end I’ve been to training bases at Davenant, St John’s Buckhurst Hill and Forest Independent Primary Collegiate since September – all to good effect.
With a few more active members now coming to the fore 2017 looks promising for H+E NUT. Once my facilities day is in place I look forward to visiting members across the Association again. It is vital to remember that a Trade Union is NOT simply an insurance club – the more you put in the more you get out. Let’s build on the successes of 2016 and create a bigger and stronger association in 2017 – which can even more effectively stand up for teachers in the area. Yes – I know that’s the same close as last year … but it’s all still equally true and relevant!!!!
MURRAY SACKWILD – JANUARY 2017
2012 was most definitely a difficult year with teachers coming under direct attack from the current Government – not least this took the form of a financial penalty with 0% pay rise and a significant hike in Pension Contributions. This has resulted in a number of members leaving H+E NUT for financial reasons – a very dangerous step in the light of potentially increasingly hostile Capability procedures and Performance Management. Under the circumstances I am delighted that our membership numbers have held up with a net increase of 2!!! Our total membership currently stands at 1001. It is important that we maintain or grow this number and hold our position as the main Teachers’ Union in West Essex. All members have been encouraged to approach new staff at their schools and promote NUT membership. It is pleasing to note that H+E Heads have, generally, not abused the Capability, Observation and PM changes and have been largely supportive of the Action Short of Strike Action. Wherever members have reported concerns I’ve managed to make progress with the Heads involved.
Our PROJECT ARIES (which seeks to place a Rep in every School) has seen a recent resurgence with a number of new School Representatives. We currently have 41 School Reps – that’s 42.7% of our schools and colleges that is comparable with many areas but out of 98 establishments that still leaves 57 places without representation. Many of our Reps have now attended Level 1 Reps training in Eastern Region – there is further Level One Training – in Harlow – later this year. I am continuing to promote the level 2 training at Stoke Rochford, this year, for those who have already completed level 1. I am also promoting the Academy Reps Course as we now have Reps at all the H+E schools that are now Academies – I’ve completed this course (with Mark Hall one of the last 3 secondaries to Acadamise in June) it is well worth attending. A target this year will be to exceed 50% of schools + colleges with Workplace Reps..
Conference, at Torquay was well attended with H+E taking up our full allocation of delegates with 5 members travelling. This year (Liverpool) will see us beat that – another 5 delegates but several active partners also attending with observer status. Other Conferences have again been poorly attended though. Our Representation at the LGBT Conference was 0. We were represented by no members at the Retired Members’ Conference. Once again there were no delegates from Harlow and Epping Forest for either the Black Members’ Conference or the Disabled Members’ Conference. Despite a lot of advertising we had no delegates at the Young Teachers’ Conference. These events are extremely popular and those who go enjoy them (and at no cost) – unfortunately no-one is interested/able to attend. I’m hoping (again) that this might change in 2013 – as I said this last year as well. At the time of writing we have one proposed delegate to the Young Teachers’ Conference in the Summer and one proposed delegate to the National Education Conference in July. A similarly dismal take-up has been in evidence for courses run by the NUT. These courses are always of high quality and are of outstanding value – being mostly free to members.
Yet again 2012 saw the vast majority of my Union time spent dealing with Casework across the Harlow+Epping Forest region. Primarily these were capability procedures being taken against teachers – slightly fewer than 2011 but a significant increase in NQTs having serious problems. There have been a few disciplinary cases and investigations but capability is still too often being used to move people from current posts and put teachers under greater and greater pressure. This continues the dangerous trend of 2011.
Electronic contact has now taken over from other means as the most effective method of contacting the vast majority of members. I am aware that a few non-computing members find this difficult but with only one day per week to carry out all of my NUT duties it has become necessary. Members are welcome to print anything I send out and share them with less electronically inclined colleagues. We now have over 200 “adds” on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/HandE.NUT and members are also invited to join the informative H+E NUT Group on: www.facebook.com/harlowandeppingforest. I am now adding information to Essex NUT’s own website: www.essexnut.org.uk and in the process of building our own web site via the NUT’s main site. My regular email updates remain popular with most members. This is good as it allows me to communicate with most of you regularly.
It was fantastic to be nominated for the Eastern Region Officer of the Year in 2012 – one of only two Essex Officers to be considered. Hopefully I’ll go a step further this year and I’m grateful to those members who have been good enough to nominate me for the 2013 award.
At the time of writing we await a decision from the NUT National Executive in relation to stepping up action again. Much was put on our historic deal with the NASUWT as we hoped to build on earlier action – which has been well supported in Harlow+Epping Forest. It is reported, however, that the NASUWT does not wish to take any further industrial action beyond the current Action Short of Strike Action. Will our NEC commit us to strike action? A huge majority of those who voted have voted for it – but the NEC will be wary of the 70%+ of members who didn’t bother to vote. With no end in sight to Michael Gove’s “war-footing” 2013 promises to be a challenging year for us all.
Union Learning Representative
Dear Harlow+Epping Forest NUT Members
That auspicious time of the year is with us again – the Harlow+Epping Forest NUT Association Annual General Meeting …. can we manage to break our recent record of 7 out of 1000 of you turning up????
Based on the dire turn-out of those of you in the south of the Association (as in 0) in recent years – I’m looking at a 4pm start at Mark Hall School in Harlow. If I’m emailed by members in Epping Forest who want to attend I’ll push that back to 4.30. If I’m emailed by more than TEN of you by Thursday – wanting to attend – I’ll book somewhere more salubrious!!!
But for now it’s:
TUESDAY 15 JANUARY – 4pm – 5pm – MARK HALL SCHOOL, FIRST AVENUE, HARLOW, CM17 9LR
Tea/Coffee and sandwiches will be available.
Please let me know if you can attend.
Full agenda to follow
Please put yourself forward for any of the following posts for 2013-14 (but in reality indefinitely!)
PRESIDENT (post currently vacant) This job basically involves chairing one meeting per year!
VICE-PRESIDENT (post currently vacant) President elect for 2014-15!!
GENERAL SECRETARY Currently Murray Sackwild – happy to stand again
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Currently Murray Sackwild – happy to stand again
TREASURER Anne Adnitt – keen to retire
ASSISTANT TREASURER (post currently vacant)
TREASURER DESIGNATE Ruth Howarth
UNION LEARNING REP Currently Murray Sackwild – happy to stand again
YOUNG TEACHERS’ REP Geoff Wiles – happy to stand again (yes he’s young enough … just)
EQUALITIES REP (post currently vacant)
Volunteers/nominations for any of the above warmly welcomed.
Delegates to National Conference (Liverpool) to be confirmed by AGM:
Make sure that you approach ALL new teachers at your school/college this week and get them to join the NUT
If your school has no School Rep – contact me today … the role of School Rep is vital but involves as little work/commitment as you are in a position to make.
All the best
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