Coronavirus Update: 19th March 2020

The situation with Covid-19 is changing rapidly and the NEU is working hard to keep on top of things and make sure that Reps and members have all the information you need.
Locally we are included in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets planning team for schools and children’s services, so we will be able to update you as soon any decisions affecting schools are made.
Here is a quick update.
1. NEU INVOLVEMENT IN DECISION MAKING
The situation will be changing on a daily basis and we believe that NEU Reps should be as close to decision making as possible. Successful planning for the next few months is going to rely on a lot of goodwill from staff, so it is important that decisions are not just imposed upon us, but are subject to discussion and agreement. We recommend that NEU Reps ask for regular meetings with your head to discuss operational plans.
2. HOW WILL SCHOOLS WORK?
The government decision is based on there being an average occupancy rate of school buildings of about 20%.
So schools are being asked to identify what staffing will be necessary to do that, once the list of students is known.
This may mean that staff work on a rota basis but does not mean that all staff need to be in work all the time – that would defeat the object of the exercise which is to minimise travel and contact.
3. REPORTING FOR WORK
Staff who are not showing any symptoms and are fit for work, can be expected to be in work or to be available to work from home. Expectations for those working at home should be reasonable and should be discussed with staff. Please contact us if you have any concerns about this.
4. EASTER OPENING
The government has said that they want schools to continue with this provision during the Easter holiday. At this stage we have no further information on this but this will be on the agenda for our meeting with the Council planning team.
5. GETTING PAID
There should be no question of anyone losing pay through this crisis. All staff who have a contract with the school, including those who are self-isolating, should remain on full pay.Supply teachers are in a different position and the NEU is trying to address their situation.
6. SUPPLY TEACHERS
The NEU believes that supply teachers who are on a long-term contract should be treated in the same way as permanent staff and continue to be paid. 
7. WHATSAPP GROUP
We are considering setting up a WhatsApp group for school Reps so that we can share information and advice quickly and Reps can help each other out by sharing what is happening in their schools. If you would like to join this group please text me on 07973 913 123.
8. NEU MEETINGS CANCELLED
Finally, it won’t surprise you to know that we have cancelled our meeting on Monday and all District meetings until further notice. We will be looking at using Zoom if we need to call a meeting for Reps to discuss any urgent business.

We will be sending regular updates and you may need to find ways of sharing these with colleagues and seeing their views if you are not able to call meetings.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice and support.
NEU Coronavirus updates – this is being updated at least daily.

Coronavirus Update: NEU letter to Boris Johnson 17th March 2020

The National Education Union has written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for the Government to close schools and colleges and protect vulnerable educators or those caring for at risk family members.

We are also calling on the Government to fund and plan limited school opening for the children of key workers, those on free school meals and other children in need.

See below for the text of the letter

Download a PDF of this letter: NEU Boris Johnson letter 17 March 2020

Click here for  NEU advice on Coronavirus

Click here for NEU advice for reps in schools

Click here for NEU advice for supply members

Letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

17 March 2020

Dear Prime Minister

We write again following your announcements yesterday and our letter of Saturday.

In that letter we pointed to an apparent contradiction between bans on large gatherings and a refusal to close schools.

We also said we thought that it was important to engage with all the science and appealed for more information to be released on the modelling and on the effects on vulnerable school and college teachers, other staff and parents.

We have not yet seen that further information.

You announced yesterday that vulnerable people are to confine themselves for 12 weeks from this weekend.

On our understanding this includes:

  • pregnant women.

and those who are suffering from:

We assume that on this basis teachers and other school and college staff who have these conditions or who are caring for people with those conditions, or who are over 70 should self-isolate.

We intend to advise all our members in these categories or caring for people in them to stop attending schools and colleges from next Monday at the latest. Some will do so earlier.

We also assume that the children of parents with those conditions should also avoid school or college.

This will make the running of schools all the more complicated.

Given your failure to release modelling comparing different scenarios of school closures, we are now forced to call on you to close schools, at least for some time and at least in some areas.

We know that very many of our members who aren’t in the categories of heightened risk would be willing to volunteer to play a role in helping our society get through this crisis.

We suggest during a period of full school closure that teachers and school leaders could work on plans for more limited opening to:

  • ensure that we can look after the children of parents who must do the work our society needs – including NHS staff, food and distribution workers, police, prison and fire brigade staff and those who are working to produce medical equipment, including hopefully industries being re purposed to produce ventilators;
  • ensure that children on free school meals or otherwise in food poverty can eat nutritious meals;
  • support other children in need.

Of course, this could not be a full opening and it would mean substantial changes from the way schools are normally run – but we believe schools could be important community hubs. This in turn requires that SATs are abandoned and that you produce proposals on the inevitable widespread disruption to GCSE and A -level exams.

Supply teachers would also be willing to help in such ways and in any event need your support during school closure or self-isolation.

We look forward to your engagement with these ideas and we remain, as before, ready to meet with you and the Secretary of State for education.

Given the number of staff and pupils that will now be off school, teachers and leaders will simply have to exercise their professional discretion about whether schools and colleges open and what work is undertaken – and they should do so with your approval.

We will support them in so doing.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, joint general secretaries, National Education Union

Links

Download a PDF of this letter: NEU Boris Johnson letter 17 March 2020

Click here for  NEU advice on Coronavirus

Click here for NEU advice for reps in schools

Click here for NEU advice for supply members

March Update

Covid-19/Coronavirus

To answer some of the questions we have been getting, we have produced this briefing on Covid-19 and its potential to impact on schools – please download it and discuss with colleagues in your school.

We will provide updates as the situation changes, and we will discussing this at our planned meeting on Monday 23rd March (see below for information).

1265 hours and directed time

Our meeting on 23rd March will also feature a discussion on the NEU’s latest advice and campaign materials on workload, 1265 hours and Directed Time. We want to use these materials to support members in schools in the summer term. We will be joined by Henry Fowler from the campaigns team at NEU HQ. You can download the campaign materials here and we will have copies available at the meeting.

NEU/Unison strike action

Our planned strike action in LA community schools is going ahead, starting with one day on Tuesday 24th March is going ahead. We will email members in those schools with the arrangements, and you will be updated if the situation changes.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any advice or have any questions about any of the above.

Next General Members Meetiang 23rd March 2020

15th March 2020

Coronavirus NEU Advice

The situation with Coronavirus is changing rapidly and so is the advice from government, medical experts and other bodies including the NEU and other unions. The NEU has published advice and guidance on the website and this will be updated as when necessary.

At the moment there are no plans for schools to close, but this may change. We understand that schools will be preparing for this. NEU Joint General Secretaries, Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, have written to the Prime Minister to ask why aren’t schools closing if mass gatherings are to be suspended?

The purpose of this briefing is to provide Reps and members with some guidance on some questions we have been asked and matters that should be discussed in school.

Some of these things may be happening in your school already, but we suggest that you call a meeting and seek reassurances from your headteacher. 

  • SELF-ISOLATION: Government advice is that anyone who develops a persistent cough or fever should self-isolate for a period of seven days. Where this happens it should not be treated as sickness absence and the member of staff should continue to receive full pay. You do not need a GP certificate to cover this period of isolation. Staff who are self-isolating, may be asked to do work at home if possible.
  • CORONAVIRUS: Where a member of staff does contract Coronavirus their absence should be recorded as sickness. However, their absence for this reason should not be counted as part of the trigger for sickness monitoring or review meetings.
  • PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS: We advise that colleagues with pre-existing medical conditions seek advice from their GP and if advised to stay off work this should be confirmed in writing.
  • RISK ASSESSMENTS: We advise that schools should carry out risk assessments for vulnerable staff including those with disabilities, staff who are pregnant or who are immunocompromised (such as anyone undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV+ etc).
  • AGENCY STAFF: The NEU has issued advice for agency staff who are unable to work. We believe that staff who are on long-term placement with a school should continue to be paid.
  • DIRECTED TIME: We advise Reps to ask heads for a review of Directed Time activities such as parents meetings, school trips. Are these absolutely necessary? Can they be organised in another way?
  • LEAVE OF ABSENCE: We believe that the current arrangements for taking time off to care for a sick dependent should be relaxed to take account of the current crisis.
  • EXAMS: Exam boards are monitoring the situation and preparing for contingencies should there be long-term school closures. Ofqual have already produced initial guidance and the NEU will engage with exam authorities through this process.
  • COVER: Cover policies should not be changed in the light of this crisis. NEU does not support doubling up of classes and where this is being suggested you should contact us for advice.
  • HYGIENE: we think there should be a review of cleaning routines, particularly in respect of handles and swtiches. All toilet and washing facilities should contain sufficient soap and water to allow users to wash their hands, which can help eliminate or reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

This situation is changing rapidly and we will attempt to keep you updated with current advice. Please do not hesitate to contact the NEU if you need any advice or guidance.

You can download a copy of this guidance here

Other NEU advice on Coronavirus here

NEU statement on Coronavirus and class size here

Campaigns Update: February 2020

Ballot Bake Off!

One of our reps has done a bit of baking with a specialised topping…
83943691_2445264132393295_7326933638237388800_o

He used a company called Eat Your Photo.

“They went down really well. They were a useful way to remind people to vote.

If you would like to so something like this we can reimburse the cost – here is an image of the artwork you can send them: TH-NEU-ballot-sticker-PRINT

Another of our reps has sent this photo in of ballots completed by members in her school. She tells us 100% of ballots have now been sent off.

 

TOWER REWARDS – BALLOT FOR ACTION

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 09.07.32

We are aware that a letter is being circulated in schools which wrongly suggests that proposed changes to terms and conditions will not affect school staff and that our ballot may be unlawful.

Please reassure NEU colleagues that our ballot is entirely lawful, and that I am in regular contact with the relevant staff at NEU HQ throughout this process.

We are balloting because Tower Hamlets, as our employer, is asking schools to consider adopting the proposals in Tower Rewards, which will worsen our contractual terms and conditions. They are doing this without consulting the NEU, or other unions, via our established negotiating forum. Unison are also balloting their members, including school support staff – NEU and Unison are the two largest unions in Tower Hamlets.

The circulation of this letter is a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and our best response is to build the strongest possible vote in our ballot, which I know you are doing.
Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 09.07.38

12 VOTES = 1%

Remember, just 12 votes is all it takes to increase the vote by 1%, so please do everything you can to build the vote stage by stage – here are some ideas:

  • staffroom ballot box – make a ballot box for the staffroom or for your meeting
  • baking for ballots – one Rep baked brownies to give to members in return for their completed ballot paper
  • NEU visit to the post box – organise a lunchtime or after school visit for NEU members to post their ballots together – send us a photo
  • I voted Yes photos – please print off copies of the attached sign and take a photo in your school meeting for us to share

KEEP A TALLY

Please try to keep a tally of how many people have voted in your school and let me know on the Friday of each week – this will help us target some of our energies.

Campaigns Update: November 2020

 

TOWER REWARDS – BALLOT FOR ACTION

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 09.07.32

We are aware that a letter is being circulated in schools which wrongly suggests that proposed changes to terms and conditions will not affect school staff and that our ballot may be unlawful.

Please reassure NEU colleagues that our ballot is entirely lawful, and that I am in regular contact with the relevant staff at NEU HQ throughout this process.

We are balloting because Tower Hamlets, as our employer, is asking schools to consider adopting the proposals in Tower Rewards, which will worsen our contractual terms and conditions. They are doing this without consulting the NEU, or other unions, via our established negotiating forum. Unison are also balloting their members, including school support staff – NEU and Unison are the two largest unions in Tower Hamlets.

The circulation of this letter is a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and our best response is to build the strongest possible vote in our ballot, which I know you are doing.
Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 09.07.38

12 VOTES = 1%

Remember, just 12 votes is all it takes to increase the vote by 1%, so please do everything you can to build the vote stage by stage – here are some ideas:

  • staffroom ballot box – make a ballot box for the staffroom or for your meeting
  • baking for ballots – one Rep baked brownies to give to members in return for their completed ballot paper
  • NEU visit to the post box – organise a lunchtime or after school visit for NEU members to post their ballots together – send us a photo
  • I voted Yes photos – please print off copies of the attached sign and take a photo in your school meeting for us to share

KEEP A TALLY

Please try to keep a tally of how many people have voted in your school and let me know on the Friday of each week – this will help us target some of our energies.

Indicative Ballot over changes to terms and conditions and failure to consult with NEU

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 09.22.07Following meetings in schools and the decision of members at our last General Members meeting on 25th November, we have been given approval to conduct an indicative ballot over changes to terms and conditions and the failure of the council to consult properly with the NEU.

We are working on the details, which will be finalised after our meeting with the Local Authority on Thursday.

At this stage our dispute is with the Local Authority so our ballot will only include members employed in Community schools and those who are centrally employed.

This means we will NOT be balloting members on VA schools or academies, who have a different employer – we will continue to consider the position of members in these schools as our campaign develops and will find ways for them to support our ballot and the campaign to get these proposals withdrawn.

Leaflet explaining the changes to terms and conditions

Model motion on changes to terms and conditions

Getting ballot ready

The indicative ballot will take place this term and we need to make sure that every member knows what we are doing, why we are doing it and when we are doing it – please call a meeting in your school to discuss this and make sure members are ready for the ballot.

We will produce more materials but for the time being please use this leaflet we have been using in schools.

Membership Updates

We have sent text messages and emails to members asking them to check their membership details and update them if necessary.

Don’t forget you can check the membership list for your school here.

Once you have logged on and set up an account with the NEU. If you would prefer me to send a list for your school please let me know.

REPS BRIEFING • MONDAY 9th DECEMBER

We are holding a short briefing for NEU Reps on Monday 9th December at 5:00pm in Stepney Green School – please make a note in your diary and try to attend or send someone else from your school. We will have some mince pies!

Other News

view

VALUE EDUCATION – VOTE EDUCATION – School cuts leafletingDecember 4th
Please talk to your head and make arrangements to distribute leaflets to parents – send us pictures.

For more details of how you can help get the vote out for education please see the NEU website

74153651_2368364806749895_4876725031469580288_o

Launch of NEU Black Members Network • December 4th

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 11.09.06

Download invitation to circulate:  NEU Black Member Network invitation

Climate Emergency Day of Action • November 29th

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 11.10.14Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 11.10.25

Please find ways to support this in school – NEU guidance is available herea Tower Hamlets protest rally is being held at 4:00pm in Altab Ali Park

UCU strike action
University lecturers are taking strike action over pay and pensions.

Please support UCU colleagues at Queen Mary College on their picket lines if you can.

Vote Education

As we did in 2017, the NEU will be using the general election to highlight education issues – particularly school funding and the impact of child poverty on the children we teach – here are few important things you should know:

  • Campaign video: to start the campaign the Union has produced this excellent video which we would like you to show to NEU members.
  • School gate leafletting: the Union has produced leaflets about school cuts for us to give out to parents we want to organise a date where we do this all together across Tower Hamlets schools – you can order leaflets for your school here.
We will contact you with more news about the campaign and how you can get involved.

Indicative ballot on Primary Testing- results

The NEU indicative ballot closed last week – the overall turnout was 39% with 97% of those voting in favour of ending the current system of testing.

Executive members have been sent a detailed analysis of the ballot result and will be making decisions about the next steps when it meets on Saturday.
Today is SATs results day, so the NEU has issued the press release pasted below which has been covered in The Guardian and other news outlets
More Than A Score have also released this excellent video for today – please watch and share.

Primary Testing Ballot

The NEU Primary testing ballot will close on Tuesday 2nd July. If you have not already please cast your vote. Whatever your views it is important that we get a high turn out of votes to ensure we know the views of all members. Then the union can plan the next steps for the campaign. #ScrapSATS

You will receive another email email on Thursday. Click on the link and answer the two short questions. It only takes a couple of seconds.

Blair Peach Remembrance Student Competition

23rdApril will mark the 40 years since the death of Blair Peach.

Blair was a teacher at Phoenix School in Tower Hamlets andan active member of the East London Teachers’ Association (now the Tower Hamlets and the City district of the NEU).

Blair was a campaigner and activist against far right and neo-Nazi organisations. He attended a demonstration held by the Anti-Nazi League outside the town hall in Southall, West London on Monday 23 April 1979, St George’s Day, joining 3,000 protesters against a National Front meeting, taking place in the town hall. Present at the demonstration were over 2,500 police, and it became violent; more than 40 people, including 21 police, were injured and 300 were arrested. Peach was knocked unconscious and died the next day in Hospital.

Blair Peach believed in the inclusion of everyone no matter what race, religion or educational ability.

The NEU Tower Hamlets and the City district are running a competition for students to create a poster or poem to celebrate the life of Blair Peach and what he stood up for.

The poster or poem should include the statement Unity is Strength and celebrate the beliefs of Blair Peach. Entries should be on bigger than 1 side of A4.

There are 3 entry categories and all winning entries will be part of an exhibition to mark Blair’s life at Bow Arts and receive a prize.

  1. Primary students
  2. Secondary students
  3. SEND students

To entry Please send entries toTower Hamlets and The City NEU

Shadwell Centre

455 The Highway,

London

E1W3HP

On the back of the entry write your full name, category you are entering, School name and the name, email address or phone number of your parent or carer.

Closing date: TBC