Tag Archives: schools

Action taking place on Academies

‘Hands off Bournville School – Say No to Academy Status’ were out on the campaign trail this morning at Selly Oak Festival. Managing to get a stall after a last-minute cancellation, we weathered the wind and rain with the help of a borrowed gazebo and got 80 signatures on our petition. The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive – a great start to our campaign!  Thank you to Bob Whitehead who came to the rescue with a couple of clipboards and some Anti Academy Alliance leaflets (we were using dinosaur picture-books and sellotape until then).  Now we’ve started there’s no stopping us. Watch this space!

by Sarah Barton

You can support and keep in touch with the campaign for this school by supporting their campaign on Digital Democracy or by joining their Facebook Group or by emailing bournvilleagainstacademystatus@groups.facebook.com

As well as Bournville School, Fairfax School in Sutton Coldfield is seeking to move to academy status, and the teachers there have voted to take industrial action, and will be striking on the 28th and 29th June.  There is a public meeting held by Alliance Against Birmingham Academies, about the strikes at Fairfax School, Sutton Town Hall on the 27th, from 7pm.

For more on that campaign, email faast@hotmail.co.uk or join their Facebook Group

For more information on why we oppose academies, have a look at the Anti Academies Alliance website

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_209808769058101 

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Teachers vote YES to strike

Teachers in the NUT and ATL unions have voted in favour of taking strike action over changes to pensions.

92% of NUT and 83% of ATL members voted yes – a huge mandate for action, especially for ATL, which has not been on strike since the 1960s.

These are the first of the unions balloting for action on 30th June to declare – PCS results are expected later this week, whilst Unison – who are balloting council workers in Birmingham for 2 days of strikes – will come next week.

The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.  Contributions to the scheme will rise, by up to £1,250 / year for teachers, whilst the retirement age will be increased and pensions payments reduced, firstly by moving from RPI to CPI to calculate increases, and secondly by changing from a final salary scheme to a career average scheme.

At our public meeting on May 26th, Doug Morgan from NUT spoke about public sector pensions, debunking some of the myths surrounding “gold-plated” pensions.  The average public sector pension is around £4,000 per year.  He also argued that the only thing maintaining private sector pensions (which he described as awful) were the public sector pensions (described as OK).

Doug will be speaking at the Stockland Green Against the Cuts meeting on Wednesday (tomorrow).  If you live in North Birmingham, why not go along and hear first hand about why both parents and private sector workers should be supporting the strike.

We need to support teachers in their action to defend their conditions.  This is not a selfish action, but an action taken to defend a vital public service.  I think it is fair to say that everyone benefits from a strong public sector education system, and an attack on the teachers is an attack on schools.

Parents, let your teachers know that you support them in this action.  Anything which reduces the rewards for doing an often very difficult and emotionally hard job reduces the quality of people who will consider doing that job.   Standards of teaching haven risen vastly in this country over the past decade, in no small part because of the extra investments that have been made, including pay rises.

Worsening the pension scheme will only act as a disincentive to enter or stay in teaching, so although it will be annoying having to work out what to do if your child’s school closes for the day, this strike is about the long term future of their education.

And we are of course encouraging everyone to take two days annual leave for the 29th and 30th – two days we hope will be packed full of anti-cuts activity.

So if your child’s school closes on 30th June (and we hope that lots of schools will be closed), why not bring them along to the strike rally?

 

 

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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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Report from Alliance against Birmingham Academies

Tuesday 11 January. Richard Hatcher spoke with powerpoint presentation to meeting of around 25 governors of the Four Oaks cluster of 9 primary schools at Hill West primary, organised by the head, Beth Clarke.

Wednesday 12 January. About a dozen Alliance Against Birmingham Academies (AABA) supporters leafleted a meeting at Rookery primary school Handsworth organised by the head, Tracy Stone, with a speaker from Anthony Collins, Birmingham solicitors specialising in Academy conversion. (We hear that the chair of governors is employed by Anthony Collins – we’re following this up.) Heads of the 29 schools in the Handsworth Association of schools were invited – 12-15 attended. AABA has asked to speak at a future meeting of the HAS and we are hopeful of being included in the February meeting.

Thursday 13 January.

Richard Hatcher spoke with powerpoint presentation to meeting of heads of the 26 primary schools in the Sutton Coldfield consortium, organised by the head, Beth Clarke. The response at the Four Oaks and Sutton meetings can be summarised as: we don’t like Academies, we don’t want to leave the Local Authority, though we have criticisms of it, we don’t like the cuts, we don’t like being blackmailed by the government into becoming Academies, but if it’s a choice between that and losing jobs we reluctantly will. So all depends on the school budget allocation to be announced next month. However, a trickle of secondary schools are already taking the decision. Ninestiles and Arthur Terry/Stockland Green have already decided, as have the 5 King Edward grammar schools. We have just learned that Lordswood Girls, Bartley Green, Perry Beeches and Kings Norton Girls are planning to convert. Unions need to rapidly contact their reps and members and arrange meetings. One factor in schools deciding is the support services the LA can offer. They are now being turned into semi-privatised traded services, putting staff’s jobs and the survival of services at risk. The Campaign to Retain Our Support Services – CROSS – has two important activities in the next few days. They need our support.

Saturday 15th January – Petitioning outside Waterstones, Bullring, Birmingham City Centre. Before Christmas, we managed to collect almost 2000 signatures. A brilliant start but we need thousands more.

Forthcoming Meeting Monday 31 January 6pm – AABA planning meeting – NASUWT offices, Ludgate Ct, Water St. You are very welcome to attend. Please let us know if you are able to help with leafleting etc or have useful contacts – or if you have information about Academy and free school developments. The meeting will include a report back from the Anti-Academies Alliance AGM this Saturday.

Richard Hatcher On behalf of AABA

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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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