The Government White Paper
Our 2016 Conference condemned the Government's new white paper and commended the teachers, governors, heads and parents who have immediately made their voices heard in opposition, including the signing of the two 100,000 strong petitions. Delegates questioned why the forced academy proposal was omitted from the Conservative manifesto and stated that there is no mandate for what even the Financial Times has called
a risky experiment.
The White Paper demonstrates that the Government is not, in reality, committed to school level autonomy or choice. By 2022, it will force 17,000 maintained schools to join unaccountable multi academy trusts (MATs), despite only 14% of the public believing this is a good idea (YouGov poll, 18 March 2016). Conference identified that this will mean that schools will cease to exist as separate entities and that it is now clear that the Government is intent on creating an education market place which will have privatisation as an ultimate aim. The priority motion on the white paper also condemned the decision to abolish qualified teacher status and replace it with a new accreditation, solely decided in schools with no university accreditation. The White Paper has the wrong priorities and ignores the teacher shortage, the chaos in pupil places and the curriculum crisis. There is no evidence base for it and it is un-democratic because it wasn't in the Conservative manifesto.
Mass academisation will mean no nationally agreed terms and conditions for such issues as pay, sickness and maternity matters, which will be determined by the board of a multi academy trust. The NUT will ballot for industrial action to include a one-day strike during the summer term, with more days planned for the Autumn term. Our action will be demanding more funding for schools, against the threat to our terms and conditions, and we will approach ATL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, UNISON and UNITE to seek their support in our action.
The ballot for this action will open on 23rd May, so Leicester NUT has arranged a reps' briefing for 11th May in The Belmont Hotel. Starting with food at 7pm, the meeting will be from 7.30 to 8.30pm. It will be open to all members of the NUT in the city and county and we would like at least one representative from every school to attend. Leicester and District Trades Union Council will also be organising a public meeting on the implications of the white paper and forced academisation. We hope to have NUT general secretary Christine Blower speaking at that meeting; more details will follow in the next newsletter.