Following the events at Clapham Common on Saturday 13th March, Joint General Secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney issued this statement on behalf of the NEU:
“The Metropolitan Police response to the vigil to mourn the murder of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common, South London has alarmed people across the political spectrum with the government’s own advisor on violence against women describing the handling of the vigil in Clapham as being ‘from the handbook of abusive men.’
“While it is right that large gatherings under COVID lockdown are subject to necessary safeguards to protect all, urgent questions must be asked about the appropriateness of the Metropolitan Police force actions and their lack of engagement with organisers to ensure the vigil was safely carried out, as the organisers wanted it to be.
“The scenes last night should not have been necessary. They were extremely disturbing, and the Metropolitan Police will need to account for their behaviour and the distress that it has heaped on the tragic murder of Sarah Everard.”
Earlier in the week, this statement was issued by NEU Executive members:
The murder of Sarah Everard has highlighted the epidemic of violence against women in our society.
This must not be downplayed nor must just lip service be paid to need for action to address this continuing scandal.
There must be an end to calls for women to avoid going out at night on their own – how can it be right to effectively have a curfew for women?
We support the calls for safe, socially distanced vigils by Reclaim These Streets and others in response to the killing of Sarah.
As educators who have been told to return to schools in full this week alongside millions of children, we are outraged to be told that attending such vigils is unsafe and that the police are seeking to ban such events. We are right to protest and to demand action.
Violence against women must never be swept under the carpet – our voices must be heard.
We call on the police to allow the vigils to take place and call on NEU members to attend where they can.”
The Union takes the issue of sexism, sexual harassment and violence against women and girls very seriously. See below for some of the resources that the NEU has developed to support members tackling these issues.
It’s just everywhere – sexism in schools
Please contact us for more advice and guidance
NEU DISTRICT MEETING
Monday 25th January
5:30pm via Zoom
From the reports we have received so far, including our meeting on Friday, it seems that schools in Tower Hamlets are generally taking a cautious approach and are not overwhelmed with large numbers of children – we hope this situation will continue.
We will get a more detailed briefing to you in due course but here is a summary of some our key principles – all in line with government advice
The NEU is pressing the government to change its policy that nurseries, nursery classes and special schools to open for all children – in the meantime we are working with colleagues to make sure numbers in these settings are kept as low as possible.
REMEMBER: every measure that is put in place must be with the aim of reducing movement and close contact and, therefore, reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.
LONDON TEACHMEET • 17th JANUARY 4PM
We are looking at ways in which we can support members in sharing ideas and resources for distance learning during lockdown.
As part of this we are working with colleagues in other parts of London and have organised a TeachMeet on Sunday 17th January at 4:00pm.
This will be a quick fire, “here is something I did“, “have you tried this?” format, which I think could be quite exciting – if you have something you would like to share do let me know.
OUR NEXT MEETING
Our next scheduled District meeting is on Monday 25th January at 5:30pm.
We have sent all NEU reps a booklet containing motions that have been submitted to NEU Conference. Tower Hamlets and the City NEU can prioritise six for debate. We will vote on this at our next meeting. If you would like a copy of the booklet, please email AlexKenny59@gmail.com.
If the situation faces schools changes we can organise a meeting for Reps if necessary – in the meantime please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice, information or support.
12th January 2021
This post is taken from the email sent by Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney to members on 7th January 2021.
It includes links to:
Read on for the full message:
Following the Government’s lockdown announcement, we know most of you will be engaged in providing remote and/or in-school learning for pupils.
For many of you, this will be nothing new – online learning, to a larger or smaller extent, has been a new feature of this pandemic.
With schools being closed to the majority of children, remote learning will be a reality, for the next six weeks at least.
The National Education Union (NEU) supports teachers in their professional role of delivering education to pupils in all circumstances.
We have developed our guidance on remote learning from last spring, adapted with the changes that have come over the last nine months.
Our updated guidance on blended learning, remote teaching and issues around live-streaming lessons can be found here.
Here, you will find our overarching principles for blended and remote learning as well as links to useful resources and fuller information for primary, secondary and special education professionals.
There are examples of blended and remote learning approaches from members, as well as articles designed to inspire and aid your practice. We will add to these resources and continue to develop our guidance as the situation evolves.
You all continue to play such an important role in our society, and your union really appreciates you and will do everything we can to support your efforts.
7th January 2021
The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday totally vindicated the NEU. After days of denying it, the government finally admitted that we were right and that schools needed to move to remote learning in order to reduce levels of infection of the new virus.
The current level of infection in Tower Hamlets is 1,188 per 100,000 of the local population, the highest it has ever been.
The situation in schools is rapidly changing. Right now, the focus must be on having a risk assessment in place that minimises the number of staff on the premises, and which keeps us as safe as possible.
It is worth stressing that the new measures have been put in place because infection levels from the virus are too high and need to be brought under control as quickly as possible.
1. REVIEW YOUR RISK ASSESSMENT
The new strain of the virus means that extra caution will need to be taken to minimise the risk in schools. Risk Assessments should be thoroughly reviewed, in consultation with Reps, with a view to reducing the amount of movement around the building, contact between staff and, where possible, reducing bubble sizes or making them more secure.
2. STAFFING IN SCHOOLS
Under the new restrictions government advice is to avoid travel where possible and that anyone who can work at home should do so.
The NEU thinks that decisions about staffing levels should flow from that and staffing should be kept to a minimum to meet the needs of those children who will be in school.
3. STAFF IN HIGHER RISK GROUPS
Staff who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) have been advised to work from home, and should have received a government letter to this effect. The NEU believes that the same should apply to Clinically Vulnerable (CV) staff and pregnant women who are in their third trimester.
4. SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Whether working in school or at home, we must be doing the best we can to support children and families in these very challenging circumstances – through online learning, calling home etc – this will be increasingly important to counter the suggestions in some circles that we are abandoning children and families.
Arrangements for remote learning should be discussed with staff, expectations should be reasonable and we will be issuing further advice and guidance. The NEU is also looking at ways in which the Union can support members in sharing ideas and resources.
There will be many questions in the coming weeks and we will be working hard to make sure we are giving the best support we can to members in schools – please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice, information or support.
Last night, nearly 300 members attended the zoom meeting held by Tower Hamlets & the City NEU. It was was also attended by Rushanara Ali MP who offered her thanks and support to education staff working in the borough and responded to some questions and concerns. We will continue to work closely with both Rushanara and Apsana Begum MP and the local council to ensure that the needs of our members and the communities we serve are met.
Since that meeting, the Government has announced a national lockdown to include the closure of all schools and colleges and a move to remote learning. Early Years Providers, Nursery and special schools are expected to remain open. We will be discussing the situation with members in these settings in the next few days.
There will be many questions and issues arising from this decision which we will address in the coming days. This is a changing situation and we will update advice accordingly and in response to feedback from members.
In the meantime, here are some links to previous advice that members may find useful:
Please keep checking the website for updates.
5th January 2021
NEU CHRISTMAS TREATS
With the end of term approaching , it may be difficult to organise any social events in school, but if you are – or if you want to buy some chocolates, biscuits or other treats for the staffroom we are offering to pay up to £25 from our local budget. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, please send a screenshot of any receipts and your bank details and we will arrange a transfer.
The NEU will support any member who wishes to take the option of working from home. Government advice is that CEV people should work from home where possible and we believe that there is currently plenty of work that can be done from home. If there are any CEV colleagues in your school please advise them to get in touch for support.
NEU STRIKE ACTION AT THE SLS
A reminder that NEU members at the Support for Learning Service will be taking strike action against cuts to their service on Wednesday 9th December at 5.30pm
NEU SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY
Wednesday 9th December 5:30pm
ZoomMeeting ID: 880 6420 3732 Passcode: THNEU
Please show your support for colleagues by coming along. If you, or the SENCO from your school, would like to say a few words about the value of the SLS please let us know.
TEACHER PAY INCREASE AND PAY PROGRESSION
A reminder that the new pay scales for 2020 should now have been implemented in schools, along with any arrangements for pay progression. Please check the chart with the new pay scales below so members can check they are being paid correctly. Please see here for more advice on pay.
If there are any problems do let us know – we are supporting members with pay appeals.
You can also get more advice on pay here.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR NEU CONFERENCE
Finally a reminder that we are seeking nominations for ten delegates to represent our District at the NEU Conference 2021 – which is being held online on April 7th, 8th and 9th April next year. Please click here to download a nomination form
Although it is not like the real thing, we do want to send a full delegation – we always encourage newcomers and aim to ensure that the delegation reflects the diversity of our membership.
7th December 2020
This new NEU toolkit provides a model policy document, a checklist for school and college leaders, a checklist for reps and guidance on how to meaningfully adopt the policy in your workplace.
How to use this toolkit:
Sometimes referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse in the home can take many forms. The government defines it as “ Any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behavior, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 16 and over, who are or have been intimate partners or are family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.’ This definition includes so-called ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. You can find more detail on the types of abuse in the NEU Model Policy Document and Domestic abuse and the Workplace Guide.
Domestic abuse happens across all social backgrounds and cultures and causes lifelong harm to victims and their children. Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse. However, in the vast majority of cases, domestic abuse is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. Its estimated that four to nine in every 100 pregnant women are abused during their pregnancy or soon after the birth. Bi women and trans women are also particularly affected.
For other groups of people, the inequalities they face in society ,such as racism, disablism, homophobia and poverty will compound the impact of domestic abuse and pose challenges to seeking support.
Here are some possible signs to be aware of:
It’s not easy to spot the signs, or to start a conversation with someone you think may be being abused. Placing these posters in a prominent place and sharing our advice page can offer support and hope to victims.
Please use the poster to raise awareness in your workplace.
If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, a recording will be available via our YouTube channel shortly.
SLS SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY
Wednesday 9th December
5:30pm via ZoomMeeting
ID: 880 6420 3732
We are working with NEU colleagues on preparations for their strike action on Wednesday 9th December and would like to get as much support for this as we can from members in schools – here are some things you can do.
BANNER If you would like to take a banner for display in your school please let me know today as we are getting them printed tomorrow – see below for the banner design.
LEAFLET It would be great if you could print off copies of the attached leaflet to distribute at your school.
PETITION Please encourage members to sign our petition, which now has over 1,500 signatures
CONSULTATION I have attached a model response to the Tower Hamlets consultation -the consultation can be found here https://talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/sls-send
SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY
Please encourage colleagues to join the online solidarity rally at 5:30pm on 9th December – if you, or another colleague from your school would like to make a short contribution about the value of the SLS teams to your school that would be wonderful.
We are framing this action as part of the national campaign on SEND funding and we have received many messages of support from NEU colleagues all over the country.
A small number of schools have told staff to turn the NHS app off the whole time when they are in schools. This is wrong – Department for Education guidance is clear: pausing contact tracing in schools is only recommended in 3 situations:
Where mobile phones are allowed to be on and with the student at all times, it is recommended that contact tracing is left on by students, to be consistent with general guidance on the use of the app.
There are still likely to be times when students and staff are not near their phones, such as during physical education or in some work placements in FE.
In these situations, contact tracing should be switched off, and settings might want to issue reminders to pause contact tracing for these sessions and turn it back on afterwards.
Where mobile phones are required to be left in lockers or bags in communal areas at all times. It is recommended that settings advise or require students to pause contact tracing whilst on the premises under these circumstances, to avoid the app misidentifying close contacts. When someone switches it off, the app will give the user the option to set a reminder for 4, 8 or 12 hours, after which they will receive a notification to remind them to switch contact tracing back.
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.
With the Covid case rate continuing to rise in Tower Hamlets – now at 257 cases per 100,000 – we know that things are becoming more difficult in schools.
Sadiq Khan was absolutely right when he described school staff as heroes for going “above and beyond the call of duty” at our London NEU meeting last week,
Below is an updated joint union checklist which addresses the latest situation and also a short briefing on use of the NHS Test and Trace App in schools.
We are continuing to work with Reps to address issues of concern to members and have been supporting Reps in meetings with headteachers – so please do not hesitate to contact us if there are issues that need addressing in your school.
It is important to note that the provisions for Directed Time for teaching staff have not been abandoned during the pandemic, so schools should be making sure that the core work carried out by teachers falls within the allocated 1265 hours. You can find out more here.
We will be discussing the latest situation and our advice to members at our meeting on Monday 23rd November so please do register to attend.
STRIKE ACTION BY NEU MEMBERS AT THE SLS
NEU members at the Support for Learning Service (SLS) will be taking strike action on Wednesday 9th December – this is against the proposals to cut funding which includes job cuts, pay cuts and changes to contracts.
We want members in schools to support their colleagues in the SLS by signing this petition and we would encourage you to call a school meeting on 9th December and invite a colleague from the SLS.
A reminder that we are seeking nominations for ten delegates to attend the online NEU Conference in April 2021 and for vacancies on our Committee.
If you would like more information about this please do not hesitate to contact us.