ISO Report to Eastern Region June 2018


The names of the Palestine delegates for October 2018 will be announced 18th June. Eastern Region will be represented on this delegation.

Many thousands of Palestinian children live in camps run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency) who also provide schools.

Divisions and Associations can help Palestine by supporting the children’s education through a number of activities. The NEU is already:

  • Campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people.
  • Supporting and promoting activities of the PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
  • Supporting Edukid’s work
  • Campaigning against the imprisonment of Palestinian children
  • Organising an annual delegation to Palestine
  • Supporting the Tom Hurndall Education Fund for Palestine
  • Supporting GUPT (General Union of Palestinian Teachers)

Is your Division/Association a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign?


Eastern Region has been well represented on the Cuba Delegation 2017 and should be again in 2018.

As everybody knows, Cuba is a developing country that has suffered from the United States blockade for 55 years. Their record on literacy (especially adult literacy) and health care is impressive, despite their lack of resources. What people may not know is how Trump has attempted to reinstall the blockade after Obama attempted to lift some of it.

Divisions and Associations can help Cuba by:

  • Joining the Cuban Solidarity Campaign
  • Creating a collection point for resources to be taken over by the 2018 delegation (specifically musical instruments)
  • Campaigning against the US blockade
  • Raising awareness of the Cuban plight and their successes

Is your Division/Association a member of the Cuban Solidarity Campaign?


Education International has launched a campaign to investigate the disappearance of 43 student teachers in Mexico. This September it will be 3 years since they were arrested by police and never seen again. The NEU has been supporting this campaign.

Divisions and Associations can support the people of Mexico by:

  • Following “Justice Mexico Now” on Facebook and keep up to date with campaigns
  • Read the blog
  • Listen out for meetings to raise support for Mexico (Christine Blower spoke at an event in Westminster on 6th June)


The NEU has helped to celebrate “Refugee Week” from 18th to 24th June 2018. The NEU has posters and leaflets for schools to use as well as resources. It suggests “20 simple acts” that teachers can do to support our refugees.

The NEU has been very active in its support of the people in the camps in Calais with visits and donations. Care4Calais has a number of campaigns going on, details can be found online.

The Daily Mail was recently forced to apologise for its inaccurate reporting of children refugees entering Britain.

Divisions/Associations can support our refugees by:

  • Obtaining some of the posters/resources available from the NEU
  • Highlighting the misinformation passed on by certain media
  • Participating in Care4Calais campaigns (sending trousers to Calais)
  • Organising events in school to show people how to support our refugee students

 Other campaigns

Send My Friend to School – Make Schools Safe Campaign

In July there will be a demo in London opposing Trump – take a group and your NEU banner.

Oppose the popular support for Tommy Robinson, which is endangering the welfare of our refugee students.

Finally – Does your Division/Association have an ISO?

Please let me know if you do and their contact details.

Let me know of any campaigns/actions in which your group is participating so that I can publicise and support.

Georgia Blue Townshend


20th June – National Action on Making Schools Safe

7th July – Teacher, union and human rights: A Seminar on Global Solidarity

10th Nov – Next NOF meeting

1st December – Latin America Conference (date subject to change)




‘Their issues are our issues’

Georgia Townshend


Cuba was amazing! Even if you were to take away all of the sight-seeing and events, the students, teachers and schools were incredible.

On the first day of union business we visited a primary, a secondary and an independent music school. The overwhelming theme that resonated was the theme of love. The teachers love their students as though they were their own children. One teacher said ‘when asked how many children I have, I reply hundreds’.

The love that was shown to the students in all 3 schools was a beautiful sight. The head teacher of the secondary school told us that ‘Every student I see in a day will receive a hug and a kiss on the forehead’.

When we questioned the teachers about how they tackle racism, sexism and homophobia, they looked as us as though we were mad. ‘We are one community’ was the reply from every person we asked. ‘Their problems are our problems’.

At each of the first 3 schools we were serenaded by groups of students who sang, played instruments and showed off their English language skills. The talent that we saw, especially in the music school, was phenomenal.

We also had the opportunity to go into the classes that were being taught and see some lessons in action. They seem to put a great deal of emphasis onto the sciences as well as Maths and so these were the main lessons that we observed.

The students wanted to learn. We didn’t see any behaviour issues at all. Again when we enquired about this, we were told that it didn’t happen. If there were any issues then it would have been due to an issue which the school would then tackle. In my opinion, this first day was the most eye opening and informative day we had.

On day 2 we visited the visually impaired school where we dropped off some of the braille machines that we took over. They were incredibly thankful for these as well as the other items that we left behind for the teachers and the students. They showed us around the school and we got the chance to see some of the lessons. During a one to one session a student performed one of the tasks for us. (If you would like to see the filming of this then I have given a copy to dad to show) The young girl was learning how to make a bed and she managed incredibly well! The school put a great deal of effort into getting the students to a point where they were able to function in society without much help and support. However, the support that the school provided (Eg the braille machines) would stay with the child until they finished their education – even if that was after they had completed their PHD!

Next we went to the literacy museum. Despite the fact that it was an incredibly important part of the trip I am not going to dwell on it otherwise I would go on for hours. The main point to take away is that as a country, Cuba believes that education is the most important element of their society. Without education, they would be unable to function. They are immensely proud of what they have achieved with education, and so they should be!

After lunch we had our first visit to one of the teacher’s union offices. In Cuba there is only one teachers union although there is a separate union for university teachers. Again I could go on for hours and so here are the main points to take away.

  • Firstly, no legislation on education or teaching is able to be passed without the say so of the union.
  • Secondly, it is illegal for trainees or NQTs to be given any sort of grading on their teaching that is not a good grading. (for example they cannot be given a bad rating)
  • Lastly, and a little controversially, there is no need for them to have sub sections of the union such as women’s groups or LGBT groups as ‘Their problems are our problems’.

A lot of what was discussed at these offices was incredibly eye opening and smacked of what we should be aiming for in England.

After this we moved from Havana to Pinar Del Rio.

A lot of what we learnt in Havana was then replicated in Pinar. The more rural schools did seem to be a little more relaxed and the buildings were definitely smaller, although not by a lot. In Pinar most of the information we learnt was about the culture and everyday life of the people of Cuba. I think this would be another speech and I am happy to give it to the group or to individuals.

Overall it seemed to me that the things we could/should be taking away from Cuba and that we seem to be missing are:

  1. Loving relationships with our students
  2. Education as being the most important aspect
  3. Solidarity within schools and unions – ‘Their issues are our issues’


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Alice Marsland Fonda – Harlow+Epping Forest Young Teachers’ Officer visited Palestine as part of an official NUT delegation early in 2017.

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