Update 12th October 2020

Making our schools and communities safer

We have been working with colleagues in the London regional office to organise a meeting for NEU members with Sadiq Khan and Mary Bousted to take place on Tuesday October 20th.

Please register for this meeting here.

It is important that we get a good attendance at this meeting to build support for the NEU call on the government for support to make schools safer.

Please encourage colleagues in your school to register and send in a question if they wish.

Download the meeting for the flyer: Making our schools and communities safer

Say No to SEND Cuts

Following our meeting last week we are launching a campaign against the proposed cuts to the Support for Learning Service (SLS). Up to fourteen posts are being cuts from the specialist support team, a cut which will see less support for some of our most vulnerable children and lead to increased workload for SENCOs and staff in schools.

  • Please read our leaflet outlining the scale of the cuts and how they will impact on schools
  • Please sign and share our online petition which has over 1,000 signatures already.
  • Please write to the local council expressing your concern about the proposed cuts and ask them to reconsider – the link has the addresses and a model text which you can adapt as you see fit.
  • Please come to our public meeting via Zoom on Wednesday 21st September at 6:00pm
    • Meeting ID 880 1048 3942
    • Password THNEU

Next General Members Meeting

In order to build the best possible attendance for the London Covid meeting we have decided to reschedule our local District meeting to Monday 2nd November register here.

TH&C

12th October 2020

Black History Matters NEU resources 2020

This is a significant year for anti-racist organising movements, including Black Lives Matter and Decolonising Education initiatives.

NEU Black Educators  have been actively engaged in ensuring schools and colleges are working progressively towards inclusive and anti-racist environments using the anti- racist framework and following up from the NEU’s Decolonising Education conference in December 2019.

This is a significant year for anti-racist organising movements, including Black Lives Matter and Decolonising Education initiatives.

NEU Black Educators  have been actively engaged in ensuring schools and colleges are working progressively towards inclusive and anti-racist environments using the anti- racist framework and following up from the NEU’s Decolonising Education conference in December 2019.

Black History Matters

The NEU is also following up on letters to the DfE to overhaul the curriculum to include Black histories and national and global stories of Black culture and achievement. Benefiting every pupil, this would counter race inequality and contribute to creating a sense of place and belonging for Black students in all phases.

The NEU sees Black History Month 2020 as an opportunity  to explore how to make Black history/culture and achievement matter throughout the year, across all subjects and age groups.  The month also serves as a focus for awareness of issues affecting culturally diverse communities, and an opportunity to give voice and listen to narratives and histories, under-acknowledged or missing from educational curriculums and/or resources.

What you can do:

  1. Download and use this teaching pack
  2. Listen and share these monthly podcasts
  3. Download these posters for classroom use.

This pack is segmented into four parts to support with focused learning:

  1. What does Black History Month mean to you? – Resources and activities aimed at providing greater breadth to the picture of Black presence in the UK. Recognising the contributions that the Black community have made to British life whilst also contextualising international perspectives.
  2. Social History – Lesson plans that make direct reference to communities across the UK and the diverse experiences of migration. Providing students with practical tools and critical skills to research and document hidden histories.
  3. Activism – Activities to support reflections on international civil rights movements throughout history, the role they have played in changing legislation and law, and how they inform present movements such as Black Lives Matter.
  4. Arts and Culture – putting Black artists and practitioners centre stage.

Teaching pack

This October, we’ve commissioned, from Serendipity Arts, a Black History Month teaching pack for key stage 3-4, which can be adapted for other age groups and a series of 10 podcasts to be released throughout the year.

Black History Month 2020 education pack

Key Stages 3 and 4 Download PDF

This pack is segmented into four parts to support with focused learning:

  • What does Black History Month mean to you? – Resources and activities aimed at providing greater breadth to the picture of Black presence in the UK.
  • Recognising the contributions that the Black community have made to British life whilst also contextualising international perspectives.
  • Social History – Lesson plans that make direct reference to communities across the UK and the diverse experiences of migration. Providing students with practical tools and critical skills to research and document hidden histories.
  • Activism – Activities to support reflections on international civil rights movements throughout history, the role they have played in changing legislation and law, and how they inform present movements such as Black Lives Matter.
  • Arts and Culture – putting Black artists and practitioners centre stage.

Black Manifesto

Podcasts which inspire us to learn and unlearn

Listen and share these monthly podcasts titled Black manifesto which will feature conversations with pioneering Black women within the arts and culture sector.  

Black Manifesto brings together voices of Black women from around the world as a collective conversation, making the invisible visible and addressing how we work to reshape a new world in which Black women are seen and heard, and a resource for inspiring creativity, learning and unlearning. Each of the ten guests will offer their interpretation and insights.   

The first podcast is here: Spotify | Apple Music

Black History Month posters

Please download and use these posters and the ideas for classroom use. The majority have been chosen to reflect migrants to the UK who have made a hugely important contribution to fairness and justice to all.

BHM : Beryl Gilroy poster

Beryl Gilroy was born in British Guiana in 1924. She was a pioneering writer, teacher and part of the ‘Windrush generation.

Download PDF

BHM : Claudia Jones poster

Born in Trinidad in 1915, Claudia Jones spent her life fighting for tolerance and equality, which led her to become a founder of the much-loved Notting Hill Carnival.

Download PDF

BHM ; Len Garrison poster

Len Kwesi Garrison was an important figure in the Black British community’s exploration and understanding of its history.

Download PDF

BHM: Toni Morrison poster

Toni Morrison was the only African American author (and one of the few women) to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

Download PDF

BHM : Margaret Busby poster

Margaret became Britain’s first Black woman book publisher – and the youngest – when she co founded a publishing company in 1967, Allison & Busby, with Clive Allison.

Download PDF

BHM: Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah poster

Lady Phyll is one of the co-founders of the UK Black Pride, which is the Europe’s largest celebration for Black LGBT people.

Download PDF

Say NO to £650k SEND cuts

Tower Hamlets Council is proposing to cut support provided to children with SEND by up to £650,000.  The proposals will see 13.5 of the current 28.5 posts deleted from the Support for Learning Service (SLS).

Sign our petition.

The SLS is a team of specialist teachers who work with SENCos, teachers and TAs to fully include children with SEND in our schools and pre-school settings.

The plans would see cuts:

  • From 5.5 to 2 teachers on the Visually Impaired Team
  • From 6.6 to 3 teachers on the Deaf and Partially Hearing Team
  • All 3.9 posts on the Specific Learning Difficulties Team and all 3.7 in the Language & Communication Team deleted and replaced by just 2 teachers for Language, Literacy & Communication.

The SLS would become advisory, with very limited direct work with pupils.  Schools will be responsible for meeting the needs of growing numbers of high needs pupils but with a drastic reduction in specialist assessments, training and expertise.

These cuts will have a devastating impact on children, families and schools, at a time when they need it most – during a pandemic. 

Pupils with SEND have been hit hardest by Covid: these cuts will only deepen inequalities. 

A recent survey of provision during “lockdown” praised the SLS for its support to vulnerable families.

Tower Hamlets Council should not be making these cuts at any time, let alone during a pandemic when we have just come out of “lockdown.”

Join our campaign to oppose these cuts and support SEND children in our schools.

  1. Sign our petition to stop these cuts.

2. Come to our public zoom meeting on Wednesday 21st October at 6pm

Zoom Link: 880 1048 3942

Password: THNEU

5th October 2020

Update 5th October 2020

This is an updated version of guidance that was sent out on 30th September 2020.

We are now four weeks into term and it has been great to see all the positive things that are going on in schools to support children and their families. The hard work of school staff across the borough, to make things as safe as possible, is to be applauded.

Naturally, with the number of Covid-19 cases rising, there is a still a lot of anxiety and a number of concerns are coming up.

We are here to offer information, advice and support, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

It is important that we all follow the advice on hygiene and cleaning, and that the guidelines on symptoms, testing and isolation are followed in schools.

The current case rate in Tower Hamlets is now 60 per 100,000, which means we are on the government “intervention list”. If the current measures do not bring the rate down we may see further intervention.

Mayor John Biggs has written an open letter to Tower Hamlets residents asking people to refrain from visiting other households in the borough unless absolutely necessary.

We are in regular contact with the Local Authority and Public Health England (PHE) to discuss the situation and we receive updates on cases affecting schools.

Thirty schools in Tower Hamlets have reported positive cases and have had to take some measures to isolate children and/or staff, following advice from PHE. It is important that, where a child or member of staff develops symptoms or tests positive, information is shared with staff in a timely fashion.

NEU SCHOOL COVID MAP
The NEU has published a interactive website where you can find out the Covid-19 rate around your school.

Questions from members

We have had a few queries from Reps and members. Our answers may also be of use to you:

LOSS OF PAY
Any member of staff who has to stay at home for whatever reason, should remain on full pay. This includes staff who have to remain at home for childcare reasons because their child has been told to isolate. If you are in this situation and it is being suggested that you will lose pay, please talk to your Rep and contact us immediately. Clearly staff who are not ill with Covid-19 but have to remain at home can work from home.

HIGHER RISK GROUPS
Staff who were previously shielding should have an individual risk assessment which should identify what measures the school can take to minimise the risk to that person and their contacts with other members of the school community. The NEU believes that where possible staff in these categories should be allowed to work from home.

LESSON OBSERVATIONS
With this being such a strange start to the school year, with staff settling in to some unusual routines, the NEU does not believe it is appropriate to return to lesson observations, learning walks, book scrutiny etc. We are discussing this with the LA and headteacher unions and hope we will have some joint guidance on this soon. If this is an issue in your school we suggest calling a meeting for NEU members to discuss – we can support you in this.

You can see the full range of NEU advice on our local NEU website.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POSTERS
The Union is very aware of the high levels of domestic abuse and violence in our society which the Covid-19 crisis has further exposed. The Union is developing a model workplace policy and guidance which will be launched in November to coincide with the UN Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls.

In the meantime, the Union has produced three versions of a poster for display in your schools. You can download the posters here. Pull-out versions will also be available in the next edition of the NEU magazine, Educate.

CUTS TO SEND PROVISION IN TOWER HAMLETS

Tower Hamlets Council is proposing to cut support provided to children with SEND by up to £650,000.  The proposals will see 13.5 of the current 28.5 posts deleted from the Support for Learning Service (SLS).

The SLS is a team of specialist teachers who work with SENCos, teachers and TAs to fully include children with SEND in our schools and pre-school settings.

The plans would see cuts:

  • From 5.5 to 2 teachers on the Visually Impaired Team
  • From 6.6 to 3 teachers on the Deaf and Partially Hearing Team
  • All 3.9 posts on the Specific Learning Difficulties Team and all 3.7 in the Language & Communication Team deleted and replaced by just 2 teachers for Language, Literacy & Communication.

The SLS would become advisory, with very limited direct work with pupils.  Schools will be responsible for meeting the needs of growing numbers of high needs pupils but with a drastic reduction in specialist assessments, training and expertise.

These cuts will have a devastating impact on children, families and schools, at a time when they need it most – during a pandemic. 

Pupils with SEND have been hit hardest by Covid: these cuts will only deepen inequalities. A recent survey of provision during “lockdown” praised the SLS for its support to vulnerable families.

Tower Hamlets Council should not be making these cuts at any time, let alone during a pandemic when we have just come out of “lockdown.”

Join our campaign to oppose these cuts and support SEND children in our schools. Please register for the public meeting to stop these cuts on 21st October 2020.

Zoom Link: 880 1048 3942

Password: THNEU

Next General Members Meeting

Our next Zoom meeting for NEU members is on Monday 19th October at 5:30pm and you can register to attend here.

5th October 2020

Covid-19 Map for schools and colleges

As part of our campaign to keep our schools and communities safe, the NEU has launched a new website.

www.schoolcovidmap.org.uk will include accurate, up-to-date information about the Covid-19 rate in areas around schools and colleges.

Click here to check the coronavirus rate in your local area.

The website will also provide campaign steps that parents, carers and school staff can take to support the union’s asks of Government to make schools and colleges safer.

The data will show the number of Covid-19 cases locally and whether they are increasing or decreasing. It will also show the ‘watchlist’ status of the local authority area and link to any local restrictions that are in place.

This website will help focus public concern about the Government’s coronavirus response and what it could do better to make our schools safer. It does not replace the important discussions you and other members need to have with your head teacher around safety.

On the website, we will ask parents, carers and school staff to support our demands and to ensure that we have:

  • Much quicker testing, for staff and students and a move towards asymptomatic testing of staff and older pupils, like in the NHS and care homes.
  • Smaller class sizes and bubbles, especially in areas where cases are highest. We have Nightingale courts and hospitals; we want Nightingale classes too.
  • Guarantees that vulnerable staff be allowed to work from home, especially in areas where cases are highest.
  • Funding to ensure that all schools and colleges have the money they need to keep as safe as possible.
  • A Public Health review of all school outbreaks, involving heads and unions, to ensure the best possible safety advice is being given.

Please help our campaign by sharing details of our website with family and friends, contacting your MP through the site’s email action and sharing our demands for greater safety in schools.

Keeping our schools and communities safe

Speakers

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, NEU

Rushanara Ali MP

Apsana Begum MP

(Other speakers to be confirmed)

Come to the public meeting Tower Hamlets and the City NEU are holding on Wednesday 30th September with Tower Hamlets Unison to discuss our concerns at the lack of testing and discuss how children and families can be supported in this difficult time.

School staff are welcome to attend.

How can I attend?

Details of how to access the meeting on zoom:

Meeting ID 826 6427 9506

Password 456174

Tower Hamlets & the City Update 21st September 2020

FACTSHEET: SYMPTOMS, TESTING AND ISOLATION
DOWNLOAD HERE


We are only three weeks into the new term and already we can see that the government is letting schools down, through its failure to have a robust system of testing and tracing in place, and a clear plan to support schools when positive cases occur.

The government says that keeping schools open is a priority and that closing them will be a last resort.

The NEU agrees with this and we know that, across Tower Hamlets, school staff have worked hard to put measure in place to welcome children back from the start of term.

However, for the return to schools to be sustainable we urgently need:

• Clearer guidance and support systems
• A much better system of test and trace
• Funding to employ more staff and reduce class sizes
Plan B for when closures do have to happen
• Greater support for children and families
• Measures to address the “digital divide
The government had six months to prepare for this, and the uncertainty many of us feel at the moment is down to them.

Letters
  1. Tower Hamlets and the City NEU has sent this letter to our local Tower Hamlets councillors and MPs, highlighting our concerns and asking for their support in raising these issues with the government.
  2. The National Education Union has sent this letter to Boris Johnson. Read the NEU press release on this letter and the failure of the government to address school safety.
Joint General Secretaries video

SYMPTOMS, TESTING AND ISOLATING
In response to queries from NEU members we have produced this briefing and leaflet, outlining the steps to be taken in various scenarios when people display symptoms of Covid-19. We trust you will find this helpful. If you have had any experiences of getting a test, or trying to get a test, that you would like to share with us please email me.

JOIN OUR MEETING ON MONDAY
We will be discussing these issues, and how we can to continue to support members, at our NEU Zoom meeting on Monday 21st September at 5:00pm. All members are invited and I would encourage to come along and join the discussion – register for the meeting here.

That’s all for now, if you have any questions or concerns please talk to your school Rep or contact us.

Tower Hamlets NEU Update 14th September 2020

Tower Hamlets NEU Meeting

Monday 21st September

5:00pm via Zoom

Register here

The alarming rise in the number of Covid-19 cases is a cause of concern for all of us, and it seems likely that the situation facing schools will change dramatically over the next few weeks.

This highlights the importance of schools keeping their risk assessments under regular review and staff being able to raise concerns and have these discussed. Your role as NEU Rep is very important in this and we encourage you to set up regular catch-up meetings with your headteacher.

1. COVID-19 IN TOWER HAMLETS

We are monitoring the situation closely and we are in regular contact with local Public Health officials to make sure we have the latest information, which we will share with you each week.

i) Local case rate: in the week commencing Monday 7th September there were 73 new cases confirmed in Tower Hamlets. This is equivalent to approximately 24 new cases per 100,000 of the local population. This is still quite low, and there are no plans at this stage for a local intervention.

ii) Covid-19 cases in schools: since the beginning of term we have been informed of four schools which have reported confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst staff – so far these have turned out to be single cases and there appears to have been no spread within the school. The schools affected are responding in line with advice from Public Health and the London Coronavirus Response Centre (LCRC) and we will be in contact with our Reps to discuss the situation.

iii) Dealing with suspected cases in schools: Here is a set of slides from Tower Hamlets Public Health, which outline the steps schools should take if there are suspected cases of Covid-19 amongst staff or pupils and then if there are positive:

Covid-19_cases powerpoint slides

Covid-19_cases PDF

It is worth discussing this with your head so everyone knows what is expected of them.

2. NEU LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER

The NEU has sent a strong letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, reiterating the measures that must be carried out, as a matter of urgency, if we are to ensure education continues for all pupils. The letter addresses our concerns about safety and also the need for a Plan B when schools are forced to close or send children home. I have attached a copy of the letter and the Union will be developing some campaigning steps around this in the next few weeks.

Read the letter to Boris Johnson here: NEU Letter to Prime Minister Schools

That’s all for now, we will contact you later in the week with other news – in the meantime please do register for our meeting next week, and encourage colleagues to do likewise.

Tower Hamlets NEU Update 8th September

TOWER HAMLETS NEU MEETING
Monday 21st September
5:00pm
via Zoom

We hope the start of term has gone as well as could be expected.

We are collecting reports from schools and, while there are good plans in place, there are some concerns beginning to arise.

It is important that schools have a system in place for staff to report any concerns and that SLT hold regular catch-up meetings with NEU Reps to discuss these and keep the situation under review.

The local case rate remains low and we will continue to monitor the situation and make sure the Local Authority is issuing clear advice to schools. Our local website has been updated with the latest advice from the NEU.

Please do alert us to any serious concerns, we are ready to support you and your colleagues.

TEACHER PAY AWARD

I have attached a card showing the agreed new teacher pay scales, effective from September 1st. Please make members aware of this and ask your head to confirm that these will be adopted in your school. Reps should also ask heads to confirm that all eligible teachers will be awarded pay progression this year.

DATES FOR NEU MEETINGS

We have set a schedule of meetings for this year, following our normal pattern of the third Monday every month at 5:00pm.

·      Monday 21st September

·      Monday 19th October

·      Monday 23rd November

·      Monday 25th January

·      Monday 22nd February

·      Monday 22nd March

·      Monday 26th April

·      Monday 24th May

·      Monday 21st June

For the time being these will continue to be held on Zoom. We will also hold Reps briefings and some online training sessions as and when necessary. Please make a note of these dates.

Download the flyer for your noticeboard: General Members Meeting September 2020

NQT RECRUITMENT

Please speak to any NQTs, or new members of staff in your school about joining the NEU – we now have over 2,700 members in Tower Hamlets and The City and we want to keep growing. Here is the link for joining the NEU – it is £1 for NQTs.

NEU SPECIAL CONFERENCE

The NEU is holding a special conference on Saturday October 3rd, this is instead of the annual conference which was postponed at Easter. Our delegates to the conference will be those colleagues who were elected to attend the Easter conference. The conference will discuss some rule changes and three motions from the Executive. We will consider possible amendments to these at our meeting on 21st September.

NEU OFFICER AND COMMITTEE VACANCIES

We currently have vacancies in our officer group for a support staff rep and independent school Rep. We also have a number of vacancies on the District Committee, which we would like to fill, particularly with some Reps from primary schools. If you are interested, or would like more information please let us know.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR 2019/20

The NEU financial year runs from September 1st to August 31st and each District must present audited accounts to NEU HQ. The closing statement of accounts for 2019/20 will be presented to our next meeting where we can take any questions you may have.

That’s all for now, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any information, advice or support.

8th September 2020

September 2020 Coronavirus Briefing

The start of the new school year sees us moving into uncharted territory, with schools and colleges opening for all students and the virus still out there. We have not been helped in our preparations by the government who have failed to give clear guidance and delayed important announcements until the last minute.

The NEU believes that children should be back in school and that everything should be done to maintain this for as long as possible. That means having robust plans in place to ensure the safety of staff and children. It also means being ready to respond to changes in the local situation and having a clear outline of what happens if cases develop. The NEU has issued updated guidance for vulnerable members and a checklist for your workplace:

Vulnerable members advice 2020

Checklist for September 2020

This a brief guide of what we want Reps and members to know – for a full guide visit the NEU website.

  1. THE PLAN

Schools must have a full plan, or risk assessment, in place to welcome staff and students back at the beginning of term, this should be discussed and agreed with staff. This is covered by the NEU checklist and covers issues such as: hygiene • cleaning • groupings • movement around the building • start and finish times • lunch and break times • use of equipment • marking • meetings and more.  Reps should be consulted on the risk assessment and all staff should be made familiar with the arrangements.

  1. KEEP IT UNDER REVIEW

Many schools have thorough plans in place that meet the NEU checklist, but these have yet to be tested by the reality of having hundreds of adults and children on site – there will be things that don’t work, things people haven’t thought of and, above all, we must avoid complacency setting in.

It is important, therefore, that the plan is seen as a live document and kept under continual review. The NEU suggests that a system is set up for staff to refer any issues and that these are dealt with promptly. We also suggest a regular catch-up meeting between unions and SLT.

  1. PLAN B

It is equally important that schools are prepared for a change in circumstances and are ready to respond in the event of positive cases within the school or a rise in the local case rate. It is vital that everyone knows what to do if circumstances change and what their responsibilities are. Local figures are now available and the government has issued a four-tiered approach to guide local responses. As part of their Plan B schools should be ready to support home learning, if groups of children have to be sent home or the school has to close down again.

  1. FAQs

While we all want to be back in school, many staff are anxious and there are many questions from NEU members.

Full guidance is available on the website but here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

  • Vulnerable staff: individual risk assessments should be carried out for staff in higher risk groups, including pregnant women. Everything should be done to minimise risk to these members and where possible we recommend that they be allowed to work from home. Pregnant women in their third trimester should work from home.
  • Masks and face coverings: although the government advise that face coverings are not necessary, the NEU recommends that staff who wish to wear a face covering are allowed to do so. The advice on face coverings is being kept under review and schools should agree a policy with staff.
  • Quarantine: staff who have been instructed to quarantine on return from holiday should discuss the situation with their head and be available to work from home. Staff should not be deducted pay as a result of quarantine.

5. TEACHER PAY AWARD AND PAY PROGRESSION

New pay scales have been published incorporating the teacher pay award for September 2020. Reps should ask their head to confirm that these will be implemented for all teaching staff. https://neu.org.uk/pay-advice

Reps should also confirm that all eligible teachers will be awarded pay progression for September. No member of staff should be penalised if they have been unable to complete their appraisal.

Note: support staff received a 2.75% pay increase in April as part of the local government pay award.

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website www.neu.org.uk/coronavirus and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.