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Suffolk Division NUT

Information for Division Council Meeting on Wednesday 17th September 2013

Venue: Belstead Brook Hotel, Ipswich   18:30 for 19:00

Click for Information from the previous meeting and from recent meetings.

Circulars and Information From HQ

  1. 13-131-EE - LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANS TEACHERS' CONFERENCE 2013
  2. 13-129-ECR - CHANGES TO TUPE PROTECTIONS: changes proposed to take effect on 1.1.14 include:
  3. 13-127-OM - DIVISION SECRETARIES’ BRIEFING: WEDNESDAY, 9 TO FRIDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2013
  4. 13-126-OM - 2013-14 AWARDS: NUT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR AND NUT OFFICER OF THE YEAR
  5. 13-125-SC - TUC ‘SAVE OUR NHS’ MARCH and RALLY – SUNDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2013 : CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE, MANCHESTER
  6. 13-124-RM - REGIONAL OFFICERS x 2 VACANCIES (London and Midlands
  7. 13-123-EE - STAND WITH THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA: urges associations and divisions to sign the A World at School petition to support a plan to provide immediate education and school meals for Syrian children. See http://www.aworldatschool.org/page/s/syria?utm_medium=email&utm_source=awas&utm_content=3+-+Sign+the+petition&utm_campaign=20130909Syria&source=20130909Syria
  8. 13-122-EE - REMINDER: BLACK TEACHERS' CONFERENCE: 8-10 NOVEMBER 2013
  9. 13-121-SSEE - PENSIONS – AUTUMN TERM 2013 UPDATE on Hearth, concerning::
  10. 13-120-SC - ACTION UPDATE: STRIKE ACTION IN OCTOBER: We will be calling members out in two cohorts:
  11. 13-118-SC - CONFLICT AND CLIMATE CHANGE EVENT: launch of a new 18 minute education DVD Conflict and Climate Change on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 from 6.00pm to 7.30pm in Committee Rooms 1&2, Hamilton House.
  12. 13-119-SC - MY WORLD GLOBAL SURVEY: Please vote for education as a priority on the MY World survey: http://www.myworld2015.org/
  13. 13-117-SC - SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN GREECE: urges associations and divisions to sign the Avaaz petition to save public education in Greece.  The Greek Government and the Troika, along with the consent of the Minister of Education, are condemning 2,500 teachers in Greece to 8 month suspension, with 75% of their basic salary, prior to their dismissal.
  14. 13-116-SC - WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY: 5 OCTOBER 2013
  15. 13-115-OM - LEARNING WITH THE NUT COURSE GUIDE 2013-14: includes CPD and national training opportunities for NUT members, other teachers, NUT representatives and local officers all in one booklet.  Guide, with an accompanying poster, has been sent to all schools.  Also available online at: www.teachers.org.uk/courses.
  16. 13-114-ECR - STATUTORY CAP ON UNFAIR DISMISSAL COMPENSATION LOWERED: from 29 July 2013, legislation was introduced to limit the maximum award for a successful unfair dismissal claim to the lower of:
    1. £74,200 (i.e., the cap prior to 29 July); or
    2. 52 weeks’ pay of the successful claimant.

    There are two parts to unfair dismissal compensation. The first part is the basic award, which is calculated using the same formula as statutory redundancy pay and is based on an employee’s age, length of service and weekly pay. This part of the compensation award will not change on 29 July.  The second part is the compensatory award. This is based on the employee’s financial loss as a result of their dismissal and therefore includes sums for loss of earnings (including future loss) and loss of pension.   Once all these are added up, the Tribunal applies a cap (£74,200) if the losses are over this amount. In reality, the average sum awarded by the tribunals for unfair dismissal is a lot less than £74,200. The average sum awarded last year was just £9,133.

    The new law, which comes into force on 29 July, changes the cap on the compensatory part of the award to 12 months’ pay or £74,200, whichever is the lower. Therefore, teachers who have been, or are expected to be, out of work for more than 12 months or who are unlikely to find work which provides access to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (e.g., agency teaching), may lose out, as their ongoing losses will be capped at 12 months’ pay.

    Fortunately, discrimination, health and safety and whistleblowing unfair dismissal claims will not be covered by the cap.  Transitional provisions mean the new compensatory limit will not apply in cases where the effective date of termination is on or before 29 July 2013.

  17. 13-113-RM - NATIONAL OFFICERS ELECTION 2014-2016 APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT SCRUTINEER
  18. 13-111-ECR - FALSE ALLEGATIONS SURVEY: findings of the False Allegations survey, which is based on evidence from the 24 associations and divisions that responded. The findings are contained in a research brief at: http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/18938. Purpose of the NUT survey was to gauge the extent to which the Government’s reform of safeguarding arrangements had changed the handling of allegations at school and college level. A Model Allegations of Abuse policy is being produced along with a member-facing document containing similar information, which will follow.  Although few areas showed improvement,  areas giving greatest concern were:
    Physical Intervention: Findings suggest an overwhelming proportion of allegations against teachers continue to relate to incidents involving the physical restraint of pupils. Respondents felt that this was due partly to the lack of clarity about implementation of school discipline polices. Division secretaries are therefore encouraged to seek to ensure that schools and colleges provide sufficient training for staff, as well as clear policies and procedures relating to physical restraint. This is addressed in the Union’s Model Allegations of Abuse policy.

    Lack of Support: Findings support anecdotal evidence of woefully inadequate support for teachers facing allegations of abuse. Very few respondents reported evidence of access to welfare counselling or medical advice (36.8%) and even fewer reported that teachers were kept informed of both the progress of the investigation and current work-related issues (31.6%). An overwhelming proportion of respondents (63.2%) said social contact with colleagues and friends at the school/college was prohibited as a matter of course.   As 65% of respondents believed that teachers facing false allegations of abuse would benefit from contact with others in similar circumstances, division secretaries are encouraged to capture the experiences of those who have been subject to allegations by asking members to complete a questionnaire so that experiences can be shared across the Union. An Allegations of Abuse Questionnaire can be found at: http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/18939

    Supply Teachers: While support for centrally employed staff was inadequate, it was disturbing to note that unattached staff, particularly supply teachers, fared even worse. Seventy per cent (70%) of respondents said that a supply teacher’s assignment would be terminated if an allegation of abuse was made, which is a particular concern given the large number of respondents who believed that being male (60%) and being a supply teacher (58.3%) made an individual more vulnerable than others to false allegations.

    School and college management should be encouraged to take measures to address this issue, such as developing allegations of abuse procedures which extend to unattached teachers working at the school/college.

    Confidentiality: only 15.8% of respondents reported that schools/colleges routinely warn staff and pupils against publicising allegations. The Education Act 2011 introduced reporting restrictions preventing the publication of any material that may lead to the identification of a teacher who has been accused by, or on behalf of, a pupil from the same school.   Reporting restrictions apply until the point at which a teacher is charged with an offence or until the Secretary of State or the GTC (Wales) publishes information about an investigation or decision in a disciplinary case arising from the allegation. ‘Publication’ includes “any speech, writing, relevant programme or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public”.   This means that a colleague who, for example, publishes details of the allegation on a social networking site would be in breach of the reporting restrictions and could face a £5,000 fine. It is extremely important, therefore, that schools and colleges educate members of the school community against discussing allegations externally and incorporate this within their allegations procedures.

  19. 13-110-ECR - HEALTH AND SAFETY ADVISERS’ BULLETIN NO. 95: on Hearth at: https://www.teachers.org.uk/health-and-safety-advisers/bulletins. Topics covered include:
  20. 13-109-SC - GREECE: SOLIDARITY ON VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
  21. 13-106-ECR - COLLECTIVE REDUNDANCIES AND THE MEANING OF ‘ESTABLISHMENT’: an employer’s duty to consult trade union representatives in a redundancy situation is triggered when the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a 90 day period.   Until recently each school within a local authority has been treated as a separate establishment.   An important Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgment has now decided that this is incorrect and that the number of employees based within multiple sites can be added together to reach the trigger point of 20.  The effect of this is therefore to require statutory redundancy consultation where an employer such as a local authority or academy chain is proposing redundancies of at least 20 staff within a 90 day period, irrespective of where they are based.  Suffolk LA already has policies requiring consultation on this basis despite it not having been required by statute.  This must be extended to Academy groups:
  22. 13-105-SC - CAMPAIGN UPDATE
  23. 13-104-SC - STAND WITH MALALA AND TAKE ACTION FOR GIRLS’ EDUCATION
  24. 13-103-RM - PADDY MARSHALL – APPOINTMENT AS REGIONAL SECRETARY, SOUTH EAST REGION
  25. 13-101-S&C - INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY OFFICERS: NEXT STEPS: If your association or division does not yet have an International Solidarity Officer, you are urged to encourage members to step forward to undertake this role
  26. 13-100-ECR - THRESHOLD PAYMENT ENQUIRIES FROM TEACHERS EMPLOYED IN EUROPEAN SCHOOLS (published in The Teacher)

Report from MG, EOTAS and Soulbury Caseworker:
  1. On 2nd July, Georgina Green wrote to all EOTAS Zero Hours tutors with a new "contract" to sign.  Her covering letter stated: "Prior to September 2012, teachers without a contract for regular hours were deemed to be casual workers, not employees, so there is no continuous service."  This not only reversed the employers' previous stance on this matter, it is in contravention of employment legislation as determined by the Prater ruling by the Court of Appeal, which held that each time a tutor was assigned a tutee to teach, that constituted a contract of employment, and any gaps between those contracts were cover under the 1996 Employment Act as "temporary cessations of work" which did not affect continuity of service.   Despite clearly contravening the law of the land, SCC has refused to withdraw the letter and tried to suggest that the Appeal Court findings did not have to apply in Suffolk.  No reasons were given and none can be found.  NUT contacted members and advised them not to sign and lodged a Collective Grievance.
  2. SCC refused to recognise a collective grievance because no individual member had complained to the employer. We explained that we had already informed our members that we were lodging a grievance on their behalf.  They said this was not good enough, so we asked members to put in individual complaints which authorised the Union to take up the Grievance on their behalf.  Eight members did so. A meeting had been arranged to discuss the Collective Grievance, if individual members asked.  MG went to that meeting, only to find that it had been cancelled by Cheryl Sharland because she now said that it wasn't a Collective Grievance, it had to be a Collective Difference, under the Partnership Agreement.  This is nonsense, because it would expect the Partnership Board to resolve it!  Clearly, only EOTAS management could put right its silly errors.  They did agree to hold a meeting on 25th July, ostensibly under the auspices of the Partnership Agreement. MG attended that, too, prepared to explain the grievance, but was told that the meeting could not discuss the Grievance, only the solution that the LA was proposing.  This "solution" of course, refused to accept that gaps between assignments did not affect continuity.  They ruled all discussion on the legal situation out of order!
  3. To this day, there has been no meeting to discuss the Grievance, lodged in mid July.  The LA are in breach of their own procedures, once again.  Instead, they are trying to reach agreement with the other unions, and are pretending that our Grievance can be solved  in that way.  In the end, they are going to have to climb down and print a retraction.  Graham attended a meeting last week where it looks as though they are moving towards that, but as usual, when they put it down in writing, it does not actually mean what they said it would.
  4. In the same documents sent out on 2nd July, they set out a sick pay arrangement for Zero Hours teachers which would pay every sickness absence, including the first day, on the basis of average earinings over the last 12 calendar months, i.e. including all school holidays except August.  This artificially reduces actual sick pay by up to 25%.  This was clearly unacceptable and we have protested that this is unfair deduction of wages, because it counts non-school days as working days.  We have discovered that the LA paid some ZHs staff sick pay on this basis last year.  We have enlisted the support of NUT legal department, although they are having some difficulty with the concept of sick pay and ZH's contracts.  These contracts are likely to be more common in future.  At the meeting last week, Graham reaffirmed our stance which is that sickness absence for the odd day, and up to the first 5 days of any absence, should be paid full sick pay as if those hours/days had been worked.  Because ZH's earnings in any week can vary considerably, we have accepted that it is fair to all to arrive at an average earnings figure for longer-term absences.  There is only one statutory method, which is the dti methodology for such purposes as calculating a redundancy payment for those on irregular earnings, and this takes the last 12 actual full working weeks, ignoring any week when there was no work.  The LA are considering this, and have accepted that the first 5 days sickness absence will be paid in full.
  5. The proposed transfer of management of Montgomery Rd to St Christopher's PRU and of Kesgrave Centre to Parkside is going ahead in spite of our protests, and others, and some reticence about the consequences from all involved.  Parkside have indicated that they are prepared to let tuition at Kesgrave continue until conditions are right in Parkside (Notschool were due to move out but this has not happened).  Parkside is also prepared to postpone transfer to Academy status until Christmas, to allow things to settle down first.
  6. The 4'rce contract in Lowestoft (Old Fen Park Centre) is being terminated on 23rd October.  There was a meeting to announce this to staff and 4'rce management on the same day as the Unions were informed.  We are in touch with our members involved.  This is the second 4'rce contract to be withdrawn in as many years.  Only the Ipswich centres remain still in 4'rce management.  The Union is aware of the issues which led to the closure of Old Fen Park, which are similar to the issues we raised in 2011-12 over the Western Area, and which were reported to Division at the time.  The big problem was always that there is no proper protocol laying down who is responsible for what - so there is confusion over who takes the decisions about disciplining pupils, sending them home, admissions, etc.  A written protocol was established, but never shown to staff (!) and as such was simply ignored.
  7. The grievance against EOTAS Management for wrongful suspension is on-going.  It is proving a very complicated and messy affair, but one where we believe the LA have a lot of abuses of process to defend.  It is at the appeal stage.  We are hoping for recommendations which will have lasting effects for the future, including a clear undertaking that only headteachers have the authority to suspend a teacher, and separating "run of the mill" disciplinary issues from safeguarding matters where a child may be at risk of significant harm being considered in the secrecy of a Strategy Meeting.  In addition there are a huge number of isses for EOTAS in particular.  We have also pointed out that the Appeal Court has pronounced that hasty or careless Suspension cannot be defended on the grounds that it is a "neutral act".  It is not "neutral", because of the effect it has on the postholder.
  8. MG is attempting to collate for the LA/staff an EOTAS Handbook, which can be accessed in draft form on www.suffolknut.org.uk/EOTAS HANDBOOK/HANDBOOKINDEX.html .
  9. Early Years: Members in the EY service have alerted the Union to changes proposed in Suffolk to amend the work that EY teams do, in the light of changes in legislation, already coming into force, which are removing from LAs the duty (and funding) to ensure proper standards in EY settings.  All quality control and inspection responsibility has been handed to OFSTED.  This is happening mid-financial year.  There have been meetings, to which the Unions have not been invited, which are beginning to revamp job descriptions.  There is a very clear danger that this will lead to the LA having to make cost savings in the EY's budget and this could lead to redundancies.  There is a complication in that most of the EY consultants were either Soulbury staff reorganised an placed on Single Status salaries with safeguarding or Teachers in Children's Centres also reorganised and placed on SS scales with safeguarded teachers' salary.  The safegurading for ex Soulbury staff will expire in or around April 2014, ex teachers will have their safeguarding expire in Augst 2014.  Both are looking forward to around £5,000 a year drop in pay.
  10. The moves to remove the Hospital Teacher (0.5) at the West Suffolk Rainbow classroom are continuing.  GG promised talks soon, but these have not been forthcoming.  We suspect it will be talks about their decision, not any options.
  11. There is still considerable individual casework for EOTAS going on.
  12. Soulbury: True to form, the promise of consulting the NUT and ASPECT on the future of the Sensory and Communications Team came to nothing.  They are down-grading that service away from expert Soulbury posts to ordinary teachers who may have no extra training, and can even be NQTs.  It will be a nice job for NQTs, but difficult to see where they would get their classroom teaching experience, or how schools will be able to use them in an advisory capacity. But they will be paid less than Soulbury professionals, of course.

 


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