NEU Annual Conference Report

Dear Colleagues,

Every year Newham sends elected delegates to our annual conference. This year the 10 delegates came from primary, secondary and sixth form sectors and 5 were NEU school reps. We heard from a Kenyan union leader fighting marketisation of education, and moving contributions from two Rohingyans, father and son. Michael Rosen, Guardian journalist Warwick Mansell, and a Palestinian trade union leader (through video-link as his visa had been denied by the UK government) were other guest speakers.

The first motion passed was against MATs. Two Newham delegates were amongst those calling on delegates to build campaigns opposing academisation. A group of Avenue and Hallsville parents and travelled down with their children to make a collection (£700) for the Avenue parents court case, please watch: https://youtu.be/Hd6hEDoQ9MQ. Hopefully Newham’s campaigns will inspire others! A motion on excessive CEO pay in academies made it into national news.

Mental health, child-centred curriculum and pedagogy, assessment, workload, and a huge number of other issues were discussed. In the ‘Equalities section’ motions on sexual harassment, racism and migration were passed. Discussion of a motion, proposed by Newham delegate Rob Ferguson, on defending the hijab and opposing Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman’s attack on Muslim students, was passed unanimously. As Executive member Alex Kenny said, “(Spielman’s) words don’t stay inside the school gates, they feed the racism outside”.

Pay and Greater London– Conference voted on a motion regarding Greater London Pay. It acknowledged the discrepancy between housing costs and teachers’ salaries and called on urgent action to be taken to redress this imbalance. To this end it moved that a meeting between outer London executive members and division secretaries take place with the Mayor of London to discuss how the Mayor can help with this problem, petition and meet with MPs, call a meeting between at Hamilton House for reps and activists to take part in the campaign and produce campaign materials and media briefings to help deal with the crisis in housing and how it affects teachers.

Workload– The amendment on pay commits the union to a ballot for national action in the new academic year on 3 key demands: 5% pay rise, a limit on teacher working hours and an end to performance related pay.

Newham NEU (NUT Section) committee are determined to follow up these and other campaigns. If any member wants to get involved in any campaign or issue please contact NTA Secretary Louise Cuffaro or Assistant Secretary Iain Hale (contacts@newhamteachers.org.uk): Campaign against Cuts, More than a Score, sexual harassment in schools, Care4Calais.