UPDATE September 2021

Welcome back after the Summer holiday. We hope you managed to have a break and do the things you wanted to do. Here is an update on campaigns and issues for this term.


This term we will continue to focus on workload for teachers and support staff and would like to hear reports from schools at our District meeting.All schools should have published the Directed Time breakdown and calendar for this academic year and this should have been discussed with staff and unions.

You can find more information here If you have any problems with this please let us know.


Teachers below U3 on the pay scale are eligible for pay progression and decisions about this should be made before October 31st. In the light of the pandemic we expect this to be automatic this year, unless someone has been subject to capability procedures.

For more on Teachers pay click here.

Please discuss this with your head and make sure your school has the necessary arrangements in place.


This image shows the ‘updated’ pay scales for this year. Colleagues will notice that the scales are the same as last year – because the government has decided to freeze teachers’ pay for this year.

This is effectively a pay cut, it’s insulting after the work we have done, and it will create more problems in teacher recruitment.

The NEU is preparing a campaign on this and is in discussions with other public sector unions. We will bring more details when we can.


Please look out for new staff in your school, particularly ECTS (what used to be NQTs!) and ask them to join the NEU.

Please send me the names of any ECTs in your school and we will write to them and send them an information pack.


We will continue to develop our important work on equalities this year – we have set up a working party which is coordinated by Kiri Tunks, our equalities officer. We are very keen to develop the curriculum area of our website, sharing resources that have been used in local schools.

If you have any resources to share please email kiri.tunks@neu.org.uk We are particularly interested in resources that can be used in Black History Month in October or for the upcoming Disability History Month in November/December.


As part of the campaign on the Climate Emergency we are asking members in schools to support the Great Big Green Week between 18th-26th September – this includes a call for staff and pupils to wear green on Friday 25th September and to post pictures. We have circulated information to your headteacher so please do discuss this with them. Amy Fletcher will talk about this at our meeting next week.


Tower Hamlets Council has published a statement making clear its commitment to supporting Afghan refugees to settle in the UK. The statement outlines what action Tower Hamlets Council is taking in partnership with other agencies, including the Mayor of London, and identifies ways in which we can assist in making these refugees welcome in our community.

Judy Cox and Sam Baroot will speak about this at our meeting next week and will be recommending that we make a donation.

Please don’t forget to register for our meeting on Monday 20th September at 5:30pm – there is lots to discuss and it would be great to start the year with a strong turnout

Refugees Welcome Here

Tower Hamlets Council today published this statement making clear its commitment to supporting Afghan refugees to settle in the UK. The statement outlines what action Tower Hamlets Council is taking in partnership with other agencies including the Mayor of London and identifies ways in which we can assist in making these refugees welcome in our community.

The statement is republished below. You can read the original here.

You can find NEU resources to support refugee children in our schools here.

Welcoming refugee children to your school: guidance

We will be discussing what support Tower Hamlets & the City NEU can give to this initiative at our next General Members Meeting on 20th September. The meeting will take place via zoom.

Support for Afghan Refugees

“The council is working closely with its partners to help refugees fleeing from Afghanistan, by giving them the support they need to re-build their lives in the UK.

Plans are continuing to be developed, and include an initial pledge from the council to rehouse up to five families. The council does recognise the additional housing challenge due to the shortage of larger family-sized properties in the borough.

Additional support will include helping families to settle into the local community, access benefits, employment and other local services like schools and doctors. 

Further updates will be provided as the range of support is further developed. This will include information on how local people and organisations can pledge their support to refugees.

The Government has promised to allow 20,000 people who have fled from the country since the Taliban took charge in August to settle in the UK over the next five years. The majority of those who have been flown out of the country are translators and their families, and others who worked alongside British forces and organisations in Afghanistan.

Many risked their lives in order to get into the airport in Kabul and onto flights out of the country, and efforts are continuing to allow for more people at risk to leave Afghanistan and reach safe countries, including the UK.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:

“East London has a proud history of providing a safe haven for refugees of war and conflict. We have all been touched by the scenes of desperate refugees fleeing for their lives. London must play its part and Tower Hamlets will be at the forefront of London’s response.”

“There are Afghan families currently quarantining in hotels who need homes, care and support following the trauma they have faced. Our borough has a part to play, with support from the Government, in helping Afghan families find a home, access benefits, employment and local services like schools and doctors.”

“We are proud to be one of the London boroughs who have so far pledged to provide a range of help and support to Afghan refugee families and the council is in the process of working with charity groups and organisations across Tower Hamlets and London to do this.”  

How you can give your support

There are a number of ways you can support refugee families and we will continue to add to this page as opportunities develop in the future.

There is no immediate need for donations such as clothes, but do look out for specific requests for items that may be needed in the weeks and months ahead. Even very small financial contributions can make a huge difference, so do consider this if you are able to.

You can donate to the London Refugee Response set up with leadership from the Mayor of London, London Councils and charitable funders from across London so Londoners can provide much needed support to new arrivals from Afghanistan, (and potentially refugees and people seeking asylum from other countries living in London).

Sign up to the Volunteer Hub and volunteer your time with Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets to help Afghan or other refugees and asylum seekers. The team will be compiling a list of volunteers and will get in touch with those who have signed up once specific roles are developed. 

Please also consider supporting Praxis and Care4Calais in their work with refugees.”

September 2021 Checklist

Covid-19: Arrangements for September 2021

As we start the new school year it is important that schools maintain a “cautionary principle” when putting arrangements in place.

The vaccination programme has clearly changed things, but not everyone has yet been offered the vaccine and Covid-19 rates remain high.

Effective safety measures remain important to limit the speed of the spread of the virus and absence due to illness and long Covid.

Everyone wants schools to be able to open and stay open for the maximum numbers of pupils but we must continue to be on our guard and be ready to respond to any developments.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will be contacting Reps to see how things are going – please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns.


Here is the latest joint union guidance which covers such things as start times, movement, large gatherings, lunchtimes, masks and ventilation – this should be useful in discussions with your headteacher.

In addition to this, joint unions have issued guidance on improving ventilation, which is an important factor in reducing risk.

There is also updated guidance for staff who are vulnerable, for whom individual risk assessments should be carried out.

Membership, pay and directed time

We have produced a September checklist of things for Reps to do at the beginning of term – recruiting new staff, checking directed time calendar and arrangements for pay progression.

Remember we have an extra day holiday this year so the calendar should show 194 working days, rather than 195.

Also, we have an agreement that pay progression should be automatic, unless someone has been on capability during the last year.


We have also produced an updated FAQs for NEU members, containing information on terms and conditions.


Finally, you may have noticed that the government announced at the start of the holiday that teachers will not receive a pay increase for 2021 – that is right a 0% pay rise.

Not only is this insulting after all the work school staff have done during the pandemic, it will lead to further problems in recruiting new people to the profession.Support staff are also subject to the same 0% pay increase.The NEU Executive will be meeting to discuss the award and how we should respond and we will share further information with you in due course.

In the meantime we would be interested in any feedback you have from colleagues about this.

Our next meeting

Our first meeting of this term is on Monday 20th September at 5:30pm via Zoom – please register here.




Monday 5th July 2021

5:30pm via Zoom

featuring Q&A with Cllr Asma Begum (lead member for education)

register here

Our final meeting of the year will feature an update on our workload campaign and a Q&A with Asma Begum who has just taken over as lead councillor for education in Tower Hamlets.

Please try to attend so we can end the year on a positive note.


Covid cases are rising again in Tower Hamlets and we are aware that a number of classes and bubbles have been sent home to isolate. It is important that we maintain all the safety measures in schools and do everything we can to minimise the risk of infection. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch.


A reminder that you can find resources on workload and Directed Time here – please have a look and use them as the basis for discussion in your school.

Also, please spare a few minutes to complete our short survey letting us know what is happening in your school.


We have received confirmation that schools will be required to open one day less for children next year – this is to allow for the extra bank holiday to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

This means that schools should be open 189 days plus 5 INSET days, making a total of 194 days.

The extra bank holiday falls in the May half-term so schools will be allowed to decide when to take the extra day.

Please make sure your head is aware of this and that the school calendar reflects this change.


For our next District meeting on July 5th we have invited Cllr Asma Begum, who has recently taken over as the LBTH lead member for education services, to talk about her priorities and answer your questions.
In a recent meeting with local officers Asma said she is keen to work with Unions, particularly on equalities issues so it should be a good discussion.

Register here for the call on Wednesday at 5:00pm


Our workload working party met last week. We are going to conduct an NEU stress survey in a few individual schools and use these as the basis for discussion with headteachers about reducing workload and improving well-being.

If you would like your school to be involved, please let me know.


The NEU is supporting two demonstrations in London on Saturday June 26th.

The first has been called by the People’s Assembly against the government’s handling of Covid – assemble outside the BBC (Portland Place from 12 noon).

The second is for Trans Pride – assemble at Marble Arch from 1:30pm

We advise anyone attending demonstrations under the current restrictions to take precautions to maximise your safety and that of others.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any information, advice or support.

21st June 2021

Remember Grenfell

Monday 14th June is the 4th anniversary of the Grenfell fire atrocity. 

To mark it, churches around London will ring their bells 72 times at 6pm. 

Local activists are organising a commemoration and have asked Tower Hamlets and the City NEU to publicise this local event:

St John’s in Bethnal Green (right next to the tube station) will be taking part, with the support of Reverend Alan Green (cc’d).  We want as many local people as possible to get involved, to mark the day.

While remembering those who died and their families, we also want to highlight the underlying causes of the Grenfell fire, which are still with us.  We had a recent reminder of this in Tower Hamlets at New Providence Wharf and there are still hundreds of blocks, as well as schools and other public buildings, where people’s lives are at risk because of inadequate safety and the profit-driven culture of the development industry.  

So, as well as paying our respects, we want to reaffirm our commitment to justice for the Grenfell dead and survivors and to demand that all flammable cladding material is removed, as the government said it would be.  Beyond this, we need to refocus attention on the fundamental right to a good, truly affordable and safe home for all, particularly now, when the lifting of the COVID eviction ban means thousands are threatened with homelessness.  

Please come to St John’s from 5.30pm on Monday 14th June.  We will mark the ringing of the bells in silence and then discuss what we can do to stop another Grenfell.”

I’m contacting tenant groups, anti-racism campaigners and other friends.  Let me know if you’d like to know more or have ideas for other things we could do and of course, invite others who you think will be interested.  If you can help to organise this, please get in touch.

Conflict in the Middle East: issues for schools

The NEU has updated its advice, Conflict in the Middle East: Issues for Schools, which aims to support members to deal with the reactions of pupils and the wider community to the conflict.

While some of the challenges staff face may require short-term measures to be taken following an escalation of violence in the Middle East, there are also longer-term issues around antiracism that can be addressed on an ongoing basis through the curriculum and by the promotion of a positive all-school environment and ethos.

The advice covers some of the challenges staff and schools/colleges may face; the importance of adopting a whole-school/college approach; the role of staff; support for staff and pupils; the benefits of teaching media literacy; guidelines for teaching controversial issues; and schools and colleges’ legal duties. There is also a useful resources and support section.


The NEU believes that education can and does change lives.

The long-standing and many-sided conflict between Israel and Palestine generates a wide variety of deeply-held opinions. People supporting both sides of the conflict often hold strong and passionate views.

The life of a school or college is strongly influenced by outside factors and the conflict can pose difficult challenges for staff. Staff may find that they must deal with the sensitive task of responding to pupils’ reactions to violent events, particularly when there is a flare up in the conflict as in spring 2021. The NEU is confident that its members are skilled professionals who can meet the challenge of educating young people who can develop a firm understanding of human rights and can contribute to a more peaceful future.

This advice aims to support members to do so.

It is important that any discussions within schoolsandcolleges–boththoseformallyarranged as part of classroom teaching and those that may take place informally betweenstudentsandbetweenstaff–areconducted respectfully and calmly.

The advice contained in this document is relevant to all schools and colleges, though some of its content may be more appropriate to some sectors than others. While some of the challenges staff face may require short-term measures to be taken following an escalation of violence in the Middle East, there are also longer-term issues around antiracism that can be addressed on an ongoing basis through the curriculum and by the promotion of a positive all-school environment and ethos.

Download the resource here

Morpeth teacher tackles Covid

NEU Member’s Lessons to Boost Worldwide Vaccine Take-Up Go Global

A London science teacher whose pupils were worried about the safety of vaccines has developed a lesson plan to tackle misconceptions and vaccine hesitancy which has gone global.

NEU member Ed Stubbs, a science teacher at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets, developed a series of lessons after hearing students talk about vaccine conspiracy theories.

His school serves the area of east London known as the “Covid triangle” which has seen some of the highest levels of coronavirus vaccine hesitancy in the country.

He worked with experts from Queen Mary University London on teaching resources which were picked up and developed by the Stephen Hawking Foundation and published on its website to form a new “vaccine initiative”.

Since Monday, more than 500 schools in countries including Brazil, China, Russia and the United States have downloaded the resources to help tackle vaccine hesitancy.”

Read the full article and download the resources.

NEU statementS: Violence against women

Statement by NEU Joint General Secretaries

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.”

Statement by NEU Executive Members

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.” 

NEU resources to tackle women’s oppression

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

Domestic Violence Workplace toolkit

Sexual harassment advice

Sex Discrimination advice

Maternity & Pregnancy

The gender pay gap

Please contact us for more advice and guidance

NEU Coronavirus update 12th January 2021


Monday 25th January

5:30pm via Zoom

Register here

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

  • risk assessments should be reviewed and updated
  • children should attend school only if absolutely necessary
  • group sizes should be kept small – we suggest 10-12 as a maximum (smaller for special schools)
  • children should not mix between bubbles
  • movement around the school site should be kept to a minimum
  • staffing should be kept to the minimum required to meet the needs of children
  • where staff can work from home they should do so
  • on no account should all staff be expected to attend work

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.


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.

Colleagues can register here.


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

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