Government Back Down on Forced Academies

On the 17th March, Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education (England), launched a new government White Paper for England: ‘Educational Excellence for Everyone’, building on announcements made in the Budget the day before.

The proposals would have: forced every school in England to become an academy by 2022 and take away many responsibilities for schools from local authorities; make sure most of  new academies are part of Multi Academy Trusts; produce new accountability measure and league tables for Multi Academy Trusts; give additional powers on school improvement  to regional schools commissioners; remove the requirement for parent governors; replace Qualified Teacher Status and review other aspects of teacher training and CPD; transform Ofsted inspection criteria; streamline admissions objectives; reform alternative provision; and publish a strategy for improved careers provision. The full white paper can be found at: White Paper

UNISON immediately condemned aspects of the white paper, in particular proposals to force all schools to become academies and the undermining of the role of parent governors.  Joint union work also targeted the media: Other teacher and headteacher unions have also passed motions allowing for industrial action if necessary.

In the political world as well as the opposition parties the Conservative led Local Government Association and County Council Network also condemned the proposals, as did a significant number of Tory MPs.

Government step back

In response to this vigorous campaigning, the government backed down from proposals to legislate to force all schools to become academies by 2022. However it did announce proposals that would give it additional powers to force some more maintained schools to become academies.

These amended proposals, outlined in the Queen’s Speech on the 18th May will form part of a new bill called the Education for All Bill.  This bill, if passed, would:

  • enable the government to convert schools to academies in ‘under-performing and unviable local authorities’
  • Make the process of becoming an academy ‘swifter and smoother’.
  • Shift responsibility for school improvement from local authorities to schools
  • Set out a new National Funding Formula
  • Make schools responsible for finding the right provider for their excluded pupils, and accountable for their education.

Continued campaigning

Clearly the government has suffered a setback, however it still wants all schools to become academies and the new proposed legislation would allow them to force more schools in that direction.

UNISON will continue to work closely with sister unions and other interested parties to oppose the government’s new proposals. The unions in the coalition issued a joint statement just before the Queen’s speech condemning the government’s increased obsession with school structures, when there were far more pressing issues to deal with: Link

UNISON’s Local Government Conference in June will also see a debate on the government’s plans and the next steps.

National funding formula

The Department for Education published an initial consultation on the principles of a proposed new national funding formula (NFF) in April. They are yet to publish their response to the consultation. It is likely that there will be a further consultation with greater details of the impact and likely changes. However, it seems unlikely that this will be published ahead of the EU referendum. UNISON remains concerned about the potential impact of the new NFF.  It is expected that rather than increasing funding to bring all schools up to the levels of the best  funded, the government will re-distribute funds, ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’, which would have a severe detrimental  impact on many  schools. Further advice and guidance will be issued when more information is available.

Jon Richards – National Secretary -Education and Children’s Services

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2016 And 2017 NJC Payscales & Allowances

The NJC Joint Secretaries have now sent official notification to local authorities to implement the 2016-18 pay offer. Details of this notification – with the new rates of pay applicable from

The pay scales for 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2017 can be downloaded here: Pay Scales

The UNISON NJC Committee will meet on 8 June 2016 to consider issues arising from this year’s pay round.

As agreed in the pay offer, the NJC will carry out joint reviews of term-time working and the NJC pay spine. The Terms of Reference and timetables for these reviews will be agreed and published shortly.

 

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LGPS Petition

Sign the UNISON promoted petition urging Parliament to debate plans giving ministers power to tell members pension funds where to invest their money:

 

Click here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125475

Over 32,000 people have signed UNISON’s parliamentary petition calling for MPs topetition debate government plans to tell local government pension funds that they have to invest members’ money in infrastructure projects.

That success has been achieved in little more than five days since the petition went live and means that the government has to respond to the petition. As of yet no response has been made.

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament. Some five million people rely on the Local Government Pension Scheme to pay their pension.

But Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to force the individual pension funds to invest in infrastructure, as an alternative to direct government funding of the schemes – even if this doesn’t give the best return for scheme members’ pensions.

That is why UNISON has launched the petition calling for a parliamentary debate on the matter.

The government has launched a consultation on the issue, and UNISON’s response to this makes it clear that the union is not against LGPS funds investing in infrastructure.

But UNISON does believe that investment decisions should be made by the funds and their members, not ministers.

And it adds that the decision must “be made in the best interests of scheme members when these conflict with those of employers or government”.

The union also queries whether the government has the legal right to do what it is suggesting.

The consultation response points out that the regulations covering occupational pension schemes do not give ministers a power of intervention, while the relevant EU directive says that member states “shall not require institutions located in their territory to invest in particular categories of assets.”

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NJC pay – Latest Update

The Employers’ Side of the NJC met on 1 April to discuss the proposal by the three unions for a one-year deal and agreed timetables for implementation of the reviews of term-time working and the pay spine. In response, they said that they are not prepared to make a one-year offer and have only offered a Joint Secretaries meeting to establish a tiMoneymetable for the reviews. The Employers’ letter is attached here.

UNISON’s NJC Committee met yesterday to consider the Employers’ response. After a lengthy discussion, the Committee voted to continue to pursue the option of taking industrial action later this year. UNISON’s Industrial Action Committee will consider the Committee’s request for a ballot for all-out strike action on 13 April.

Unite also have a mandate for selective action on pay and will be meeting on 21 April to consider next steps. GMB members have now voted to accept the two-year pay offer by 9:1.

As UNISON and Unite remain in dispute over this year’s pay offer, the reviews of term-time working and the pay spine will not start until pay is settled.

The Employers’ response is extremely disappointing. The NJC needs to get on with the important work of reforming the pay spine to deal with the inconsistencies in pay and grading structures caused by the real Living Wage and the National Living Wage. School support staff have waited too long for a review of term time working too.

However, the pay offer means that 60% of NJC employees would receive just 1% in 2016 and in 2017, meaning the value of your pay will fall even further. More than half of the cost of our pay claim could be met from the higher tax and National Insurance income that would come from meeting our claim and from reduced in-work benefits.

The higher increases proposed on the lower pay scales are to ensure that employers comply with the National Living Wage law and to ‘front-load’ some of the increase to meet the £9.35 level which will be needed by 2020. Members have to be paid this – whether or not they were included in the LGA’s offer.

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Lambeth Library Protest

Lambeth UNISON are holding a demonstration to oppose the closure of libraries on Saturday. The demonstration will meet at the (occupied) Carnegie Library in Herne Hill at 11.30am and will march to Brixton (via Minet library which the Council closed last week).Libarary

You can read more about the community campaign to defend all ten of Lambeth’s libraries online at http://defendthe10-lambeth.org.uk/.

You can also read UNISON’s statement in support of the community campaign and in response to the occupation of Carnegie library on 31 March at http://lambeth-unison.org/2016/03/31/unison-statement-on-the-occupation-of-carnegie-library/.

UNISON members in Lambeth libraries have been taking official strike action against the job losses associated with the plans to close libraries (and you can read about the most recent strike action online at http://lambeth-unison.org/2016/03/23/report-lambeth-libraries-shut-for-two-days-by-strike-action-to-save-the-local-service/).

Their action, and the pressure of the community campaign, has already won concessions from the Council – but the Council remains determined to close both Carnegie and Minet libraries and replace them with gyms (which local people would have to pay to use) with (unstaffed) areas in which books will be available to borrow.

Messages of support to the community campaign, which will reach those occupying Carnegie library, can be sent to lambethlibrariescampaign@gmail.com

Further information is available from the Branch Secretary, Jon Rogers at:

Lambeth UNISON
International House
Canterbury Crescent
LONDON SW9
jrogers@lambeth.gov.uk
j.rogers@unison.co.uk

 

 

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Local Government Pension Scheme Please Sign Our Parliamentary Petition

The government wants to use the money in your pension funds to invest in their pet infrastructure projects. This potentially puts at risk the money that should be used to pay your pensions. There has been no debate in Parliament over this issue and we need to try and make sure it gets debated.

We have established a Parliamentary petition which requires 100,000 signatures to get a debate in the House of Commons.

You can sign it by clicking here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125475/signatures/new  the text below describes the petition.

Now pass it on to a colleague – they don’t have to be a UNISON member to sign!

Debate in the House the Local Government Pension Scheme Investment Regulations

5 million people rely on the LGPS to pay their pensions. Government wants powers over LGPS investment funds, but they could gamble away members’ money on infrastructure projects. This is not allowed in any other UK scheme, including the MPs’. The LGPS must be invested in members’ best interests.

Parliament must debate this issue and make the government accountable for these powers of intervention as any such direction may breach the law. Specifically Article 18 paragraph 3 of the EU Directive 41/2003 Institutions for Occupational Retire Provision: “Member States shall not require institutions located in their territory to invest in particular categories of assets.”

 

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Kensington and Chelsea Retired Members’ AGM and Lunch 2016

Once again our AGM and lunch was well attended and enjoyed by our members. This was the third successful gathering since introducing an annual general meeting with our retired members’ lunch. The lunch has been a long standing branch tradition since NALGO days. Reports, motions and speakers were all listened to with interest.

 

The buffet lunch

Members arriving

Members arriving taking their places

Raffle and AGM

Apart from the AGM and lunch we have also arranged a number of social visits and outings for retired members. Last summer these included a visit to the BBC, a trip to the BP Portrait Awards at the National Gallery and a day trip to Margate. We hope to continue in the same vein for years to come!

 

Our members are very supportive of our efforts on their behalf and are very appreciative of the hard work the Branch Retired Members’ Committee does throughout the year.

 

Verena Beane and Sue Clark (Joint Secretaries K&C Retired Members)

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