Swindon primary rep Fran King describes how acting collectively led to a successful safety campaign.
Safety of staff, parents and students
We are asking NEU workplace groups to take these steps:
- Meet with members to agree any issues of concern. Raise them collectively with the employer.
- Ensure you have a bargaining framework – a meeting to discuss issues with the employer. This can be formal or informal – the important thing is an ongoing discussion between the union and your head teacher.
- Develop the agenda for your meeting with the employer based on issues of concern to members.
- If the employer will not agree to any (or enough) of your ideas, go back to members, discuss the head’s position and agree next steps. Members may wish to demonstrate how strongly they feel by signing a letter or raising it with the governing body. If you need further support, speak to your branch or region/NEU Cymru.
Teaching and learning
As the new academic year proceeds, staff will want to think about how teaching and learning will be managed.
We think this should be a matter for collective discussion and agreement, as with safety, wellbeing and workload.
A focus on assessing and exploring the learning and emotional experiences of children and young people during the pandemic will be essential.
Talk about ‘catch-up’ or ‘falling behind’ is unhelpful, creates stress for staff and demotivates learners.
Staff in every school and college should be given the time and space to determine how assessment and classroom practice need to be adapted to continue to support students.
Support for pupils should be a rounded assessment of social, emotional and academic development, to plan next steps in learning and reintegration. We believe priorities should be:
- Rebuilding relationships that underpin learning and a sense of belonging
- Reminding students of routines
- Relearning rules and responding to students’ different needs
- Re-establishing the environment for learning
- Rekindling a love for learning
Unmanageable workloads are a major concern for educators, that have only increased during the pandemic. Your time and efforts are not unlimited. Educators need to be physically and mentally refreshed if we are to meet the challenges of the recovery of our education system. There must be a prioritisation of how your time is most efficiently used in the coming months.
Non-urgent tasks, such as data management and elements of planning, will need to be delayed. Discuss as a union group the most important priorities and the time necessary to deliver them. These should form the basis for an agreement with your head. Below are some of the issues that NEU groups may want to discuss in their school/college union meeting and arrange a meeting with your head/principal to negotiate the extra time needed to meet these priorities.
- Time to plan a curriculum to support pupils to re-engage with school, their learning and each other
- Time to plan and carry out assessments to understand pupils' starting points
- More time to work together to understand exam board requirements, and develop departmental and whole school systems in relation to exams
- Paid time off to be vaccinated.
- Time to talk collectively about changes that might be needed to behaviour policies or strategies on well-being and mental health, to ensure staff can respond to students’ needs
Winning at work
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Wirral primary rep Andy Heywood describes his successful safety campaign.
Oldham rep Noo Khadem describes her successful safety campaign.
Telford Special school rep Donna Macdonald describes her successful organising campaign.
Leicester secondary rep Sylvia McNeil describes how she negotiates during a pandemic