29 June 2020
Joint General Secretaries’ Report
Kevin Courtney reported on the following:
· Members’ confidence that schools are re-opening safely because of the Union’s actions; the Union’s actions have kept vulnerable staff and pupils safe: Government wants to shift blame onto unions away from their almost exclusive mis-management of the wider re-opening of schools;
· Government has failed to engage with the Union; Working with TUC to engage with the Government on the logistical challenges of opening schools more widely; focus on the next steps;
· School census data released that week showed the proportion of pupils in class sizes of 31+ now stands at 13.4% across primary and secondary; secondary class sizes are now at their highest since 2001 – exacerbating logistical challenge of bubble size etc;
· Councillors’ network zoom call on 3rd July will discuss how local government and unions can work together on a recovery plan for education;
· the Government confirmed that statutory Baseline Assessment will be delayed until autumn 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19 on schools
· New Guidance for black members produced, following reports from Public Health England and ONS which found substantial disparities facing Black people, even when taking into account matters of age, sex, other health conditions and the impact of living in more deprived areas
· 15 June, Black Lives Matter; Keep Hope Alive zoom call, chaired by Daniel Kebede, speakers included the Reverend Jesse Jackson attracted 6,500 people and a further 15k on Facebook; the Union’s anti-racist framework ready to launch; and new guidance for black members produced following the PHE and ONS reports showing disproportionate impact of C19;
· New checklists will be prepared for the new parameters operating in September
· Need for updated guidance for caseworkers on what constitutes safe casework when physical meetings reinstated
· Acknowledgement that workload impact of blended work patterns falls disproportionately upon women members with their additional domestic/caring responsibilities; consider survey of women members
Finance report- The OSG received a report on actual vs budgeted figures for the financial year from 1st September to 30th April 2020 indicating a surplus, expected at this stage given subs take. Some issues under review including legal income (guidance to be produced on retaining legal advice inhouse).
Membership report – More than 25,000 members have joined the union since March. An overall growth of 9,847 in the union’s total membership, from 440,161 in February to 450,008 in June. The union’s total membership figure however hides the more important and significant growth of 19,183
in-service members between February and June. Support staff account for 36% of joiners, 64% are teachers and 8% students and trainees. Between 11 and 17 June 63% of joiners were full-time (33% Standard teacher/lecturer working above 0.6 and 30% Support working more than 21 hours). Most joiners were primary 61%, secondary 21%, and not applicable (ie. student members) 11%. More than a third, 36% of new joiners were 34 or under.
Budget setting – 2020/2021- The OSG received a first draft of the budget for 2020-21. The final version of the budget will be signed off at the July meeting of the OSG. Tribute was paid to Beccy Reese and the Finance Team for budget exercise.
Hamilton House Refurbishment project – The Hamilton House refurbishment project was paused on 25 March 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. On the basis of the contractors’ C19 risk assessment work, the Joint General Secretaries have approved the refurbishment re-starting on 29 June 2020. The projected completion date is now 1 March 2021 and there is a projected additional cost of £24,095 to the project.
NEU Property Strategy – The Executive at its meeting in February 2020 took the decision to sell 7 Northumberland Street. Due to the delay in the Hamilton House refurbishment project, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, 7 Northumberland Street will be in use for a longer period than originally envisaged. In accordance with the Investment Committee’s recommendation, the Union will review the position of the London property market and take professional advice before proceeding to market the property. The Advice Line moved to Apex House in December 2017. The team has expanded and is due to expand further when posts currently located in London transfer to Doncaster. Additional office space is required to accommodate different needs within the teams There are two additional offices adjacent to the current space and the landlord is willing to offer these on the same terms as the existing lease. The OSG agreed to take a second lease at Apex House co-terminus with the current lease. A decision on expansion of the Northern Regional Office space was postponed until the next meeting pending more detailed modelling of RW office requirements/criteria.
Branch and District Decision-making – Following the discussion at the last meeting, the OSG received a draft of the advice document for local district and branch secretaries on the use of digital platforms for formal meetings. Feedback from local officers (via the LBDS NC zoom meeting and regional meetings) and from Strategy Committees the previous day was received:
· that the quorum should remain as in rule; a minimum of 10 members from at least 3 educational institutions
· Guidance on holding effective meetings helpful, eg ‘chat’ facility to ensure not used for parallel debate and raising individual issues not appropriate
· No automatic ‘pause’ if individual members drop out
· Run as pilot until end of October with review on operation instituted at end of September
Sector and Equality Section Conferences – The OSG agreed that the sector and equality section conferences scheduled for the autumn term should be postponed and that a paper with options for alternative mechanisms to elect equality section/sector delegates where appropriate and motions to Conference 2021 following discussion with relevant executive seat-holders, OFs and NCs will be brought to the next OSG for consideration and decision.