Tag Archives: education

Birmingham Campaign For State Education Meeting – June 11th

Melissa Benn, education journalist and author of ‘School Wars’, will be speaking at the next
Birmingham CASE (Campaign for State Education) public meeting on Tuesday 11 June 7.15 at the T&G Offices, Broad St, Birmingham (opposite Novotel).

7:15pm
Tuesday 11th June

T&G / Unite offices, Broad Street, B15 1AY

Unite building is accessible with a manual wheelchair but unfortunately the lift is too small for motorised wheelchairs. Accessible toilets are available at the venue.

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Defend Education – day of action in Birmingham, Nov 23rd

There is a gap that is emerging between universities like Birmingham City University and elite institutions like the University of Birmingham because of targeted government cuts. These targeted cuts are a recipe for a deeply unequal society. A society where the elite who could afford to go private schools get the best that money can buy at universities that most can’t get into.

This is not just about cuts but about the way the white paper targets cuts and gives new powers to private companies which will essentially lead to two tier system of education in the UK.

Birmingham City University is on the receiving end of the 9th highest cuts in government funding in the country. The massive cuts are 8 times higher than the cuts at elite institutions like University College London which is receiving minor cuts of only -0.8%, while for universities like the University of Oxford and Imperial University, government funding is actually being increased.

It is institutions that are the most accessible to those from low socioeconomic backgrounds that are being hit hardest. The universities being given the most cuts have high proportions of students from low socioeconomic groups studying in them. At BCU 44.7% of students come from low socioeconomic groups, while at the University of Oxford 11.4% of students come from low socioeconomic groups. Yet while money is ploughed into Oxford is it is taken out of BCU.

This is not about funding excellence; courses that BCU offer which are the best in country are being cut just the same. School of Media, rated fifth in the UK, is having its budget cut drastically and 30% of staff face redundancy this year. However despite the excellence it is being driven under by a government set on creating a maketised two tier education system.

Non-elite institutions like Birmingham City University are being set to fail by the government, so they can be sold off, bought out by private firms to run for profit, in much the same fashion that the NHS has been sold off under Labour and now the Conservatives.

There are sit ins and occupations taking place in most Universities in Birmingham and in nearby Coventry on 23rd November. Students will be coming out to support the strikes on the 30th. If you would like to get in touch with students to ask them how you can help them on the 23rd call or text 07988056867. On the day student occupiers may need support to protect them from campus authorities or simply messages of support, whatever you can offer is appreciated.
The 23rd is a national day of action, and there will be actions taken on many campuses around the UK. See the NCAFC website for more details on events around the UK

For more detail on the White paper, watch this short speech by Simon Furse, a student at the University of Birmingham:

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NCAFC activists drop banner for day 1 of Lib Dem conference

Activists from the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts did a banner drop yesterday, on the bridge connecting the Hyatt hotel, where delegates are staying, to the ICC conference centre, over Broad street, during rush hour.

The banner, which read “Traitors Not Welcome, Hate Clegg, Love NCAFC“, reminds delegates of the pledge taken by every Liberal Democrat candidate before the last election to vote against a rise in tuition fees and press for a fairer alternative.

Despite this pledge many Lib Dem MPs voted for the tripling of university fees to a maximum of £9,000 – a figure which most universities have decided to charge.  Scottish activists also occupied a lecture theatre at Edinburgh University yesterday in protest at the universities decision to charge the full £9,000 – a decision which will see students pay £36,000 in fees for the standard Scottish 4-year degree.

Local Lib Dem MP John Hemming was one of the MPs to have broken the tuition fees pledge.  Following his decision to vote for the tuition fee rise, he decided that he had not in fact broken the pledge, by redefining the word “and” to mean “or”, claiming that because they are pushing for a fairer alternative, he had not broken a pledge to vote against the fee rise by voting for it.

NCAFC activists would argue, and we would agree, that the only fair alternative to tuition fees is free education, paid for by taxation.  Such a system would not place any disadvantage on students from poorer backgrounds who are likely to be put off by the amount of debt a degree will now attract – a debt that someone who earns an average wage all their working life will never pay back.

In addition to tuition fees, NCAFC attacked the coalitions record on education – the scrapping of EMA, reduction in university funding, budget cuts to the School Sports Programme, cuts in maintenance budgets and the increased push for academies and introduction of free schools.  Tom, an education worker and activist from Birmingham told us that

The Liberal Democrats have shown that they do not care about young people in the UK today.  They have taken part in a systematic attack on our education system, overseen cuts locally and nationally to youth services and Connexions, at a time when youth unemployment is rising and now stands at 20%

NCAFC have called for young people to join the march for the alternative tomorrow in Birmingham, assembling at 11am on Granville Street, off Broad Street and marching through the city centre to a TUC rally at Lionel Street, followed by a Right to Work rally at the CWU building.  There is a shorter route for disabled and elderly activists.

Birmingham Against the Cuts will have stalls at the assembly point, in Peace Garden off Bath Row Stall 10.30-12.00, at the TUC rally in Lionel St Car Park Stall 1.30-3.00 and the Right to Work Rally BATC stall 3.15-4.30.  All help is appreciated.

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Mayday Demonstration in Photos

The Banners


The March

The People

The Speakers

David Hughes - President Birmingham TUC

Graeme Horn - Unison Council Branch

Cllr Albert Bore - Leader Labour Group

Vez Kirkpatrick - Save the NHS West Midlands

Sian Ruddick - PCS

The Clarion Singers

Doug Morgan - NUT

Eleanor - Disabled People Against Cuts

Charlie Friel - UNISON Connexions

UKUncut Topshop Demo

Birmingham UKUncut activists outside the Bullring Topshop protesting about tax avoidance - Philip Green who runs Topshop has avoided paying hundreds of millions of pounds of tax since 2005

The Photographers

With thanks for the photos from:
Geoff Dexter Sherborne
Amy-Rose Deffley
Indymedia Birmingham
Pete Jackson/Right to Work
Mary Pearson
Bob Whitehead

You can read a full report of the event here. Apologies to any group whose banner I’ve not got a photo of, and the speakers I’ve missed.. and of course anyone else who would have liked to have seen their face here.  Thanks to everyone who turned out to make this such a great day, and to the sun for shining on us all.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Erdington Against the Cuts, Events, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Education workers balloting for strikes

Over the past 2 weeks, the teaching unions – NUT, NASUWT and ATL – have held their national conferences, against a backdrop of “ringfenced” school budgets which actually means real-terms reductions in funding, cuts in the building maintenance grant of 80% and the removal and/or privatisation of school support services from Birmingham City Council.

Edited to add: Head teachers association vote to ballot on strike action over pensions – getting awfully close to a general strike in education.

We know of some schools making redundancies – 37 staff going at a school for children with behavioural issues, a significant number of whose students are children in care meaning that there are not parental networks getting outraged about these redundancies which will have a significant impact on very vulnerable children.

We are also hearing news of other mainstream schools across Birmingham preparing to make redundancies amongst teaching and support staff, or not looking to replace staff who are retiring or moving to another school and the national media tells us that demand for training on handling redundancies has skyrocketed.

Coventry teachers strike against Academy Plans

Meanwhile more schools declare themselves to be academies, which means that they are no longer bound by national pay and conditions agreements, and staff face working longer hours for no more pay.  In the long run creating a huge amount more work for unions as they will have to negotiate individually with every academy – potentially tens of thousands of employers – rather than a single negotiation.

And finally there are pension changes, which the NUT said this about before their conference:

The attacks on teachers’ pensions, along with those of others in the public sector, have been well documented by the NUT. In summary they mean teachers will have to work longer, contribute more and get a smaller pension. The combination of a pay freeze and increased pension contributions alone will create a 12% fall in real incomes for those at work.

This attempt to make workers pay for the economic crisis is justified by reference to our ‘gold-plated’ pensions and the so called apartheid between private and public pensions. The average teachers’ pension is less than £10,000 with only 5% getting over £20,000 – so much for ‘gold plated’. The real pension scandal is the fact that many workers in private companies have no pension scheme at all while a few get vastly inflated pensions. How is the Government going to force private companies to ensure that all workers get a pension scheme? Another argument trotted out is the unaffordability of teachers’ pensions. Yet in 2007 our pension scheme was reformed and this was said to be affordable and in fact the costs of the scheme have fallen, as Hutton has confirmed.

The real reason for the attack on pensions is the Governments’ decision to pay off the debt caused by supporting the banks. They aim to make us pay for the crisis by driving down our pay and our pensions as well as attacks on our conditions of work. Rather than seek to collect in all the avoided taxes and make the wealthy pay a greater proportion of taxes the Government has decided to make those who have the least pay for their crisis.

In the previous attack on our pensions, in 2005/6, the public sector unions began to organise collectively and managed to defeat some of the major changes the Labour Government wished to impose. This wasn’t a total victory, we had to concede a two tier pension scheme and greater individual contributions, but it did give us a way to fight using collective action. We need to build on that now at both a local and a national level. Local Associations and divisions should be taking the lead in organising local public sector alliances to defend our pensions and to build action at both a local and national level.

At the conference, the NUT passed a motion in favour of co-ordinated strike action (this was almost unanimous with just 2 abstentions) over changes to the pension scheme.

ATL, who have not been involved in industrial action since 1979 also passed a motion to ballot for strike.  Both unions will ballot during May for a planned strike on 30th of June – the same day that PCS are balloting for strike action (more on that in a post tomorrow).

NASUWT has "No Confidence" in Michael Gove

Meanwhile, NASUWT passed a motion at their conference stating that they would be willing to undertake industrial action to defend a system of national education in the country, and passed a motion of no conference in Michael Gove, the Tory education minister.

With UCU having gone out on strike at universities last month, the education sector is looking to become a battleground for unions to defend their members and the children in school against cuts, and June 30th is set to be a huge day of strikes across the country with up to a million people out on strike that day.

All the main teaching unions seem to be lined up together with a willingness to strike and could grind the education system to a halt if they chose to do so.

This Saturday (30th April) is Birmingham’s Save our Services Mayday demonstration.  Mayday is the workers bank holiday and traditionally a time for the union movement to reflect on its achievements.  This year though it should be a day for unions to look forward and show a willingness for action, and provides an opportunity for everyone to come out on the streets to show their support for strikers.

This is particularly important for teachers who are often reluctant to strike because they do not want to damage any pupils education.  They need to know that they have the support of parents and their community in striking to defend the education system.

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80% cut in funding for Birmingham schools for minor capital repairs and refurbishments

Much of the attention of the coalition government’s funding of English maintained schools has focused on the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Almost no attention has been focused on another aspect of capital funding that will affect all schools – that of Devolved Capital Funding. This is the annual allocation to schools for minor capital repairs and refurbishments introduced by the last government.

As from this April this funding will be cut drastically. The figures for Birmingham are as follows:

2010-11 £21,673,224

2011-12 £4,091,673

Cut in funding £17,581,481

This is a cut of just over 80%.

The 2011-12 figures are on the DFE website here. The 2010-11 figures are here.

(Thanks to Guy Dixon, The Truth About Our Schools website, 5 February http://www.thetruthaboutourschools.com/2011/02/05/the-row-about-bsf-has-the-real-story-on-school-capital-funding/)

Richard Hatcher

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Save EMA Birmingham Jan 11th

To coincide with the vote on EMA in parliament, Stop Fees and Cuts Birmingham have called for people to write to their MP and councillors to help to prevent EMA – a means-tested payment made to students in Further Education – and to attend a demonstration in Birmingham City Centre from 4pm, January 11th, meeting by Waterstones near the Bullring.

They have setup a facebook event with more information

Link

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