Annual Conference Motions 2020

Find below conference motions chosen to be submitted by our District general meeting on Tuesday 5th November 2012:

Combating the SEND and Exclusions Crisis

Conference is alarmed that;

SEND Funding cuts put intolerable pressure on schools, risking jobs, and creating conflict between schools and families because students’ needs can’t be met from slashed budgets

NEU analysis shows the proportion of students with EHC plans is rising by a rate at which Government funding pledges will not support. This undermines the rights of students with SEND and undermines parents’ confidence and partnership with their child’s school.    

Ongoing Government underfunding has forced Local Councils to raid the Schools Block to prop up the High Needs block which places Councils in an impossible position.

Students with SEN face a greater risk of exclusion than ever before because schools lack the funding. This has had a negative impact on pastoral systems, training specialist staff, early intervention approaches, and a lack the flexibility to make the curriculum engaging, motivating and relevant. Conference notes the EPI report on Off Rolling, commissioned by the NEU in 2019, revealed that 1 in 7 of pupils with SEND suffered unexplained moves

The Government’s approach of academisation, high stakes testing and narrow accountability measures is a toxic mix which undermines inclusion, and is causing exclusions of young people with emotional and behavioural needs..

Conference welcomes the NEU/UCL collaboration to develop a framework for flexible behaviour policies which promote well-being, inclusion and safety for staff and students. Conference believes that ‘Zero Tolerance’ policies seriously harm black students, students with SEND and working class students.  

 Conference instructs the Executive to;

1. Learn from  the campaigns against Zero Tolerance approaches in the US

2. Campaign for accountability measures which reward and make possible inclusive practice  

3. Further Challenge the SEND funding crisis and build on the alliances with parents and councillors  

4. Ensure PRUs are included within the vision for a National Education Service as a specialist resource, with appropriate ratios of qualified teachers and support staff and a remit to work with all local schools to prevent exclusions

FUNDING FOR NURSERY SCHOOLS

Conference notes that:

  1. Only 392 maintained nursery schools now remain open in England, providing places for around 40,000 children. Almost two thirds are located in the most deprived areas of the country, providing high quality Early Years education and vital specialist support services.     

2     Previous governments recognised that the Early Years National Funding Formula introduced in 2017 did not adequately provide for their needs and committed supplementary funding of around £60m per year until 2019-20.

3      This supplementary funding has failed to prop up the budgets of most maintained nursery schools and will end in August 2020. They face losing one third of their budgets on average in the next financial year. This will result in severe cuts to the education and services they provide, which in many cases, will put maintained nursery schools at risk of closure.

4      The recent Government promises of additionalfunding for schools and colleges include no commitment to secure the future of maintained nursery schools.

Conference welcomes

              i the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nursery Schools, Nursery and    Reception classes and their campaign to secure a future for maintained nursery schools in     partnership with the NEU, Early Education and NAHT.

             ii the dedication and commitment of our NEU members in maintained nursery schools

           iii the branch and school led campaigns to highlight the inequalities of the funding system for maintained nursery schools.

Conference instructs the Executive to

a.      continue to support the national campaigns to save maintained nursery schools

b.      call on the Government to guarantee that maintained nursery schools will have viable funding after 2020 on the same basis as all other sector schools

c.       consider all strategies to protect members in maintained nursery schools including balloting them for action.

Supporting the Branch & Districts

Conference notes that:

Our Union is a member led with Branch and District officers elected by the membership. They are the link between the workplace, regional and national structures of the Union. The work undertaken by local lay officers can be time-consuming, stressful and emotionally draining but is vital to ensure the campaigning strength of the Union. Conference believes that regional and national structures should do more in supporting Branch and Districts to enhance their effectiveness.

Conference instructs the Executive to;

Improve access and speed of delivery for Settlement Agreements, legal advice, telephone queries, targeted organising, specialised advice, support for campaigns, pensions, ill health and other crucial activities and casework.

Adult Mental Health in Education

Conference recognises that if we are to provide the best for our children and young adults, then it is crucial that we also address the equally important issue of the adult mental health crisis in education.

Counsellors at ‘Education Support Partnership’ dealt with 9,615 cases between April 2018 and March 2019, the largest number in the charity’s history – a 28% increase compared to two years ago.

Helpline cases grew by 49% compared to the previous year and callers, clinically assessed to be at risk of suicide, rose to 561 (compared to 357 in 2017/18).

There is a toxic brew in our schools of: unreasonable accountability and tests; fear of pay paralysis plus austerity-fuelled funding cuts, driving class sizes up and staff numbers down.

Conference further recognises that Union Lay Officers and Reps experience a high level of casework related to mental health issues. They often provide support to members with little, or no specific training risking a detriment to their own mental health.

Our Union can be the loudest ethical voice in raising the profile of adult mental health in education. Together we can challenge stigma and discrimination whilst ensuring members are offered a response with collective care and action, if required.

Therefore, Conference instructs the Joint Executive to:

1. Formulate and lead an education Trade union campaign on challenging mental health stigma in the workplace, including invisible disability and injury at work;

2. Ensure that action against cuts includes references to mental health issues related to both children and adults;

3. Undertake a whole membership survey to discover the scope of invisible injury and traumatic experiences in schools

4. Update and review the training for Reps and Lay Officers to enable effective support for members enduring mental health crisis

5. Promote early intervention in supporting an adult in mental health crisis including Mental Health First Aid, debriefing and signposting;

6. Fund a District pilot in supervision for Reps and Lay Officers

7. Use our position to challenge unethical leaders who do not prioritise staff mental health –share/promote stories of successful action.

Agency Worker Regulations and Supply Teachers

Conference notes:

Supply Teachers have been particularly adversely affected by the deregulation, privatisation and underfunding of the education system.

The only legal protection Agency Workers have is the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) 2010, as amended by the Report of the Taylor Commission 2018.

Conference believes that:

Many agencies are not rigorously complying with AWR.

Conference instructs the Executive of the National Education Union to:

1. Campaign vigorously to reach out to all Supply members, appraising them of their legal entitlements.

2. Put in place an online tool to enable members to calculate if they have a claim and to train Officers to support members with a claim.

3. Work with the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) to prioritise the enforcement of AWR for agencies operating in the Education sector and to take decisive action against agencies who avoid AWR.

4. Work with EASI to ensure robust sanctions are in place and enforced for those agencies who still use the Swedish derogation contracts after April 2020.

5. Call upon the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCO) to adjust their requirements accordingly to ensure implementation of AWR by their members and to exclude those agencies who do not scrupulously honour their statutory obligations.

6. Demand that the Crown Commercial Service remove any agencies, who have failed to uphold AWR, from their approved providers’ website with immediate effect.

7. Present a written report to the 2020 Supply Teachers’ Conference and the 2021 National Conference explaining the results of actions 1-6.

Branch Casework Support

Conference recognises the important role carried out by NEU employees in the Regions, Wales and Northern Ireland in providing casework support, as well as the essential support members receive from their workplace representatives. It is also recognised that branch officers and workplace reps are the key to recruitment, encouraging members to become active within their Union as well as promoting and promulgating the Union’s priority campaigns.

Conference notes with concern that:

1. increasing numbers of local authority branches have had Trade Union Facilities Time reduced in recent years;

2. Academy Trusts are withdrawing from, or have declined to sign up to, Trade Union Recognition Agreements;

3. growing numbers of local Authority branches receive insufficient or no Union facilities time;

4. branch caseworkers are reporting high and unmanageable levels of casework;

5. the reduced capacity to carry out Union duties is having a detrimental impact on NEU members in need of support and representation, as well as on the wellbeing of branch officers themselves.

Conference believes that individual and collective casework demands on branch officers requires and Union-wide focus on support, training, and improved use of Union resources. Conference therefore instructs the Executive to:

1. develop accessible online resources to support workplace representatives and branch caseworkers;

2. ensure Regional, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices develop strategies which support branch caseworkers as well as supporting workplace representatives to carry out Union duties;

3. commit further resources to national and regional training and support for branch caseworkers;

4. commit to supporting local authority branches in securing Trade Union Recognition Agreements with Academies and other Independent employers;

5. support branches with efforts to ensure the appropriate provision of Union facilities time;

6. monitor, assess and report on workplace rep density, training, recruitment and retention;

7. monitor and assess the level and amount of casework undertaken by both workplace representatives and branch caseworkers.