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Report from November's NUT Black Teacher's Conference

Kuldip Hoonjan
26th January 2017

Inspirational and enjoyable. Theme this year 'Look Back and Moving Forward'

Paulina Blackstock, Black teachers constituency holder

To encourage people to attend conferences I notice that there is distinct lack of black teachers at these events. I would encourage people who do want to attend. We need to hear your voice, your stories, we need to be represented. To make an impact we need to make sure we are in the position where we can voice opinions and act on behalf of others. What your hopes and dreams are, what you want to push forward, what is your individual mandate. There is whole range of things that national union of teachers have promoted in terms of helping Black Teachers. We have got voices, let's hear our voices. Part of the role is about building network. Building of network must be done locally, regionally and on a national level and part of this conference is about that. I encourage everyone to be networking as they go along.

In terms of evidences about Black Teachers:
There is anecdotal evidence Black teachers are leaving the profession at higher rates than their white counter parts.
For black teachers the systemic biases of ableism and homophobia resonates with much more emphasis than for white counters parts.
Black teachers face unfair and discriminatory performance management practices.
Black teachers are more likely to live in deprived areas and work in challenging schools with least desirable working conditions.
Fair pay scale disadvantages.
Black teachers more likely compared to white counterparts to be the subject to Capability proceedings
Compounded issues if you are LGBT/Disabled this is why it is essential to monitor and promote intersectionality - we are not homogeneous.
BME groups more likely to be effected by stress, health and well-being factors.
STRB 2015 noted 34% of Black/ Black British teachers had been denied pay progression.
40% Asian/Asian British teachers denied pay progression compared to their white counterparts.

Kevin Courtney, NUT General Secretary

Incredibly proud to be at this conference of the NUT Black teachers. This is incredibly important development in the union. We have made progress. It's nothing like enough. Very existence of this conference is vital to the work we are doing.

There is space for Black teachers to be active in the union to win high office in this union. Thank you for fighting this political space.

The new union; our colleague ATL met up on the same day. There are going to be ballots of memberships of both unions, finishing before Easter. If the ballots are successful and I think they will be, then formally, legally and I think there will be a national education union from September 2017. I think that's a good thing. We will carry on as the NUT section for a while until Jan 2019 and there will be ATL section. This is the 25th annual Black teacher's conference. Next November there will be a question whether we have annual conference of NUT section of Education union or Black workers. The new union coming together will be the majority of teachers in every area of the country.

I worry for our children for the things that they hear from the leaders of the free world.

We want to live in a good society. We have a duty to stand up. There is another special sort of duty everybody needs to fight against racism. It's not the duty of the black teachers to lead the fight. It is the duty on all of us to......that fight. Trade union movement is another duty as well. Where these racist attitudes grow in some cases they grow in places where people get left behind. People take the wrong reactions and go racists. Trade unions got a duty to fight for these people as well as against unemployment, against degradation these people face. Donald Trump and his brexiting capping into a feeling people are being left behind. We need to fight against racists.

Simultaneously we have to fight for the rights of these people. One of the ways we seek NUT as a social justice union. One of the big thing we can do now is fight on our funding campaign. Huge cuts happening in our schools. 8% real term cuts, which means drama, PE being lost. TA s and teachers facing redundancies. I think there is a big fight to build over this. I don't think any parent, no matter who they voted in general election, no matter which side they voted in referendum , no parent voted for their child's class size to go up or their boy or girl not to do art or dance or drama in schools or have their TAs or teachers sacked. There is a real big chance to build a big fight against those funding cuts.

We have a fantastic website. You are part of the union. We are doing things together. We are fighting against these racists. We are fighting for ordinary working class and we are fighting for our children.

Questions from some delegates

What is the union doing about the growing anti-Muslim feeling and anti-Muslim hate crimes across Britain, in our schools, in our work places? What is the union doing so far and what is the progress made to date?

For me is the central question happening in our society. So what the union is doing about it? Speaking out on prevent. We are doing that as loudly as we can and we doing it as bravely as we can. This relates to the other questions. I think people are frightened to say boo to a goose. They are frightened to say what is going wrong in prevent. So we are trying to be brave. We had a young man called Ramna Mohandeen from a sixth form college to speak in an event. We have launched programs on that. When there was Trojan horse attack in Birmingham, I went to speak at the public meeting. Yakub organised. I said it was islamaphobic. I think we have to be brave and speak up on the questions. That's not enough. Union is not going to do it either. It is going to be us to do it. Somehow do it together. We are working on 'show racism the red card'. We do work on these issues in schools. We are saying government you've got to free up curriculum space, so teachers can talk about these issues in their schools. We are not allowed to talk about what really matters in schools.

What can we as parents and teachers do from a legal prospective when our children's ethnicity is requested time and again, initially at application at secondary level, school visits on every opportunity time and again?

There is no requirement on parents to fill out the form. We are saying that to the school head teachers that they are under legal duty to ask for the information but they do not have to pursue it and parents do not have to give it and we put advice on our website to NUT groups that they should meet together and discuss that and say that to the heads. I am sure there are other places where ethnicity is asked for and I think that is very frightening and shouldn't be happening. I don't have a legal answer for you that maybe we can look for and come back more on that.

What pacific, additional opportunities may exist for Black members or wider members becoming involved forging the new relationship in the formation of the new union? It would be good to hear for additional space so we could get involved.

I think there are lots of additional opportunities in the union. One is because the new union is going to have much bigger executive. Too big in my view. This happens when union merges happen. But there are going to be more people on the national executive and 50% of them are going to be women and there are very few women on the national executive at the moment. So there is huge number of opportunities for people to stand in the election. We are setting up also organising forums around Black Teachers we want to have in every region. We want to have those as elected positions. People on those forums running Black Teachers networks in their areas.

We have seen voting in America and here in Britain. People tend to use fear to gain sort of power or gain votes. Question to general secretary is what is our union doing about that to kind of counter act that fear?

I think it is frightening. I don't think it is as bad as 1930 when Hitler was coming to power but you see some similarities. If I was Muslim I would be thinking. What they did to the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. I wonder where this goes in our society. So we all have the obligation on us to stand up and challenge where ever we see that and the union has to do it as loudly, as proudly as we can.

We are working with organisations. We will be mobilising for anti-racist demonstration next year. We are giving money to 'show racism the red card' for their schools competitions. We are giving money to 'Hope not Hate'. But this giving money is not the same as being involved. One of the Kurdish communities in North London is huge campaigner. Huge number of people speaking on those sort of questions.

There are many of us involved in these things.

How does the union ensure clearity within the union, particulary in terms of representing Black members? What Matrix is used to measure equality?

The truth is we are at early stages of this. We now have the advice line. People have case work concern. ... contact is advice line. We can get that statistics about how many people, characteristics etc. We don't have that information on our database. We can only tell ... numbers of people have told us that they are black. We don't have the statistics as well as we'd like to. I think almost all new joiners are giving us that information. New joiners join on-line. There is request for that information. I think we have data better for newer members than the members who have been for a while. We are looking at that to see what information tells us.

If you feel there is a trail of fear for TAs and teachers speaking against things that you mentioned just now and from wide working class background, how would you address it? I am sure you understand the fears and concerns.

We are looking to see what information there is in that as well. We have team of organisers who are meant to work while working in schools with people building fight back and we have an organiser dealing with black teacher's questions. We are also working to take those things forward to make those things question if we find in schools, in academies chain that black teachers are getting less pay than white teachers. We want to make it a trade union issue as well as a legal issue.

There are hundreds and thousands of people against Donald trump. There is positivity in that as well.

Although I welcome joining of the two unions. Some clarity on this because I don't remember sending any vote for this.

It hasn't been voted for it hasn't happened yet. We had discussions at annual conference at Easter, which voted for more work to be done between us and ATL to set certain rules. Those sets of rules went to both conferences last Saturday. Final discussion is with members. The new union will happen. It is in the hands of members.


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