Category Archives: Education

UCU: Academic boycott of London Metropolitan University

ucu-1140-400Members not employed by London Metropolitan University are asked to support the academic boycott in any way that they can.

This may include not doing the following:

  • applying for any advertised jobs
  • speaking at or organising academic or other conferences
  • giving lectures
  • accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers
  • writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by the institution in question
  • accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses
  • collaborating on new research projects.

For the avoidance of doubt, where any of the above or other related activities forms part of your contractual duties you should only refrain from doing them after your head of department (or line manager) has given you prior permission to do so. UCU is not asking or encouraging academics to act in breach of their contracts of employment. In the event of any doubt, before acting advice should be sought from the union or clarification sought from your line manager.

Important UCU members employed by London Metropolitan University must not participate in the academic boycott in order to protect their contractual position.

Please also note: London Metropolitan University amended boycott advice

Cuts to School Budgets

  • The Institute of Fiscal Studies reports every school will have cuts, as a result of the National Funding Formula currently being proposed.
  • The Department of Education reports a £3 billion overspend which is carried over to the new budgets.
  • For the last 2 years the National Audit Office reported to Parliament that they cannot approve the accounts of the Department for Education.
  • Academy schools are facing the same CUTS from successive years and CUTS from the proposed National Funding Formula still to come.

Barnet Academy schools are lobbying government. The co-ordinator told the TES (February 2017) “As professional managers we are already making savings, up to and including staffing cuts. We are not replacing staff who leave, cutting teaching and support provision, reducing spending on text books, and we will inevitably have to consider passing some of our costs onto parents.”

A Kent grammar, also in the national media is turning to parents to “fund the gap”. Parental charges for essential resources such as Teachers and text books is proposed as school fees for parents to pay.

Teacher redundancies equal larger class sizes. Teaching assistant redundancies undermine quality education. Cuts to teaching and Teaching Assistant jobs at a time when there is a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention is foolhardy to say the least.

Government can find money if it wants to fund the future of our children ’s education and the future of the teaching profession.

Government has allowed huge, unacceptable waste of the education budget for example 17 free schools have been funded lavishly and closed in the last 4 years.

There should be public information listing the land the DfE and Education Funding Agency has purchased for free schools out of our education budget  but there is not.

It is not at all clear who is holding the title deeds to all this land purchased and the land that left public ownership through academisation.

The reasons for the waste of money including the legal costs of academisation are not in any way connected to improving education and are ideological.

Barnet has 90 local authority primary schools of which 36 are rated by Ofsted as Outstanding.
Barnet Schools must be funded for current staffing levels or excellence cannot continue.
School fees are not an option for the provision of State Education and a National Education System.

Via People’s Assembly: Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers

Dear friend

I am writing to ask if you would support our campaign to stop the cuts to school budgets.

Schools are set to lose £3 billion a year in real terms by 2020. These are the largest cuts to school funding since the 1970s.

MPs from all parties have been urging the Government to invest more in our schools; in some areas governors have taken the unprecedented move of threatening strike action while parents and teachers are organising meetings up and down the country to draw attention to the issue.

Our website www.schoolcuts.org.uk gives you an idea of severity of the problem. Just type in your postcode to see how schools in your area will be affected.

It would make a huge difference to our campaign if you would add your voice to our campaign, you can email your MP at http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/# /email-your-mp

A parents campaign has been founded and has groups in a number of towns and cities. Please sign up with them too at www.fairfundingforallschools. org.

In solidarity,

Kevin Courtney

(General Secretary, National Union of Teachers)

See you on the streets.

A victory for Parents and Residents over education in Barnet, a report from Jenny Brown

The pubic gadefendeducationllery was packed at Hendon Town Hall on the night of the 25th of January as residents, teachers, school governors and teaching assistants listened to the councillors question and discuss the issues.

Barnet council rejected the planning application for the Free School proposed by ARK PIONEER.

The EFA/ARK can appeal but the fact that Barnet council turned down the ARK PIONEER application for planning permission has particular reference toFree Schools in general.

The decision from Barnet shows how important it is to get involved at planning application stage and to have local councillors working with residents and resident associations.

The proposed site is in a labour ward with active hard working councillors. Conservative supporters lobbied their councillors too, so the conservative dominated planning committee was not prepared to pass this over development so near to other primary and secondary schools that have scope for expansion.

The message from Barnet is that we (parents, residents, governors and teachers) expect the recommendations and legal guidance for outside play space, safety and standards, to apply to Free Schools as they do to other buildings.

This stand from Barnet should be widely shared to empower other areas to defend themselves from Free Schools especially ARK PIONEER and their low level of education and building design.

Shortage of land for FREE SCHOOLS is no excuse for not planning additional housing along with school places and infrastructure.

Last night the EFA /applicant for ARK argued that lack of outside play space was acceptable since in some FREE SCHOOLS children play on roof tops. I think this one comment, tipped the balance against the whole project and the public were genuinely shocked.

Need for school places was especially relevant because the proposed site is green belt. The EFA and Tory councillors tried unsuccessfully to argue that although it is a site on green belt, there are officers, toilets and football stands built in the recent past. Even in leafy Barnet, air quality samples are too high and at the proposed site, Barnet Friends of the Earth found that it was high at the site.

Residents and councillors were unimpressed by the EFA offering to purchase roads, widen them and install traffic lights. which would increase air pollution from stationary vehicles at red lights.

Areas with unsound short term arrangements for schools, should let national education organisations such as CASE know.

CASE is aware of these issues for example at Kingston Community School children are in an unsafe building surrounded by main roads with no fire assembly point possible and no plan to get children to safety should there be any type of emergency. Buildings that are unsafe or unsuitable should not be accepted as schools. CASE would like to hear from anyone in the Kingston area who would like to help this particular school. Please visit the CASE website and consider joining.

Finally just to say that Barnet teachers and governors of local schools are shocked at the EFA’s proposal to miss use the education budget by spending on roads, especially at this time. Although this issue was not raised last night, as not relevant to a planning committee, nevertheless the waste of money by the Education Funding Agency is utterly unacceptable especially as the amount is enormous. CASE is working on the figures to be released soon but again please consider looking for info on CASE.

Defend Education: Should Summerside be an Academy?

defendeducationWhat do we know about “Reach 2”?
Summerside is too small to “stand alone” as an academy. Parents, Governors and teachers need to know about the quality of the MAT (Multi Academy Trust).  Summerside Governors voted for Reach 2 on May 26th. (see Summerside website, “community”).
Ofsted give 4 ratings. The best is Outstanding, and the lowest is Inadequate.
It is public information that:

  • 55 schools are under Reach 2
  • 35 Reach 2 schools have never had an Ofsted rating.
  • Only 20 Reach 2 schools have an Ofsted inspection rating
  • 10 out of 20 Reach 2 schools, are Ofsted rated “Good”.

So only 50% are “Good” and only 10% Outstanding since Reach 2 have only 2 Outstanding schools.

The remaining 40% of those inspected as Reach 2 schools are  “Requiring Improvement” or “Inadequate” (sources: Schools Week education publication. Janet Downs, Local Schools Network).

  • Dorney primary, Maidenhead, was Ofsted rated “Good” before joining Reach 2, but in Jan 2015 was rated by Ofsted as “Inadequate”.
  • Castle Hill Academy (Croydon) was  Ofsted rated as “Good” before Joining Reach 2 in 2013, but now Castle Hill Academy has been rated by Ofsted as “Inadequate”.

What do we know about Summerside, as it is NOW, within Barnet local authority?
Reach 2 take a payment of 5.5% of the school budget each year from each of their schools. This is not fixed. A MAT sets the charge to each school Options and alternatives to an academy need discussion with parents, all school staff and experts from Barnet. Barnet local authority has 33 “Outstanding” primary schools out of a total of 90 primary schools. None of Barnet local authority schools are rated “Inadequate”. (Source DFE Ofsted ratings for all schools –  Barnet Schools Sept 2016)

REACH 2 may not be best for the future of Summerside. On Sept 20th, the Chair of Governors of Summerside sent a letter to parents, representing Reach 2 claims that……”70% of Reach 2 schools inspected, are “Good or better”, but this is not correct. The most is: “60% of Reach 2 schools inspected are “Good” or “Outstanding”, 40% are inadequate or require improvement. This is why a consultation meeting for parents, staff and teachers should be offered voluntarily by the Governors.  This is what the Summerside petition asks for. You can sign as a resident or as a current parent.
Phone or email to read the petition or to sign it.
Email:  BarnetPDE@gmail.com                     Tel : 07534 407703

School Cuts: Barnet Schools set to lose over £20 million

Shock statistics from the government reveal that cuts will force Barnet schools to lose more than £20 million, the equivalent of 555 teachers, by 2020. A new websischoolcutste set up by NUT and ATL, the newly merged education unions, shows the scale of the devastation to schools funding. The new website allows anyone to enter their postcode or the name of their school to get an instant summary of the way the cuts will affect  their own school. Try it here.

I looked at East Barnet School because we know that the headteacher of that school is vehemently opposed to the cuts and is prepared to say so publicly. Check for yourself. His school will be short of £297,517, the equivalent of a per pupil shortfall of £283 or the loss of 7 teachers. But this is not the whole story. The website does not take into account the difficulties which schools are already facing. As the head of East Barnet School told our NUT meeting, he has already set a deficit budget this year. In other words, before the cuts on the website can take effect his school is already in the red.

I think it will be very effective if we have some printouts of the results of all schools in Barnet at the public meeting. The NUT website calls on all to write to their MPs. At our public meeting we can decide whether this is all we can and should do.

Mayor of London Criticises Ark Academy Plans in Underhill

arkSaid Khan, Labour Mayor of London, has voiced criticisms of the controversial Ark Academy, citing its serious planning problems, particularly in terms of location and road access:

A Greater London Authority letter representing the views of Mr Khan, the Mayor of London, and planning report for October 31 state “the proposed school development is ‘inappropriate’ on green belt”.

Full story in the Hendon and Finchley Times here.

Barnet Trades Council urges all Barnet residents concerned about the issues raised to come to the meeting on November the 17th.

More general info here.

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