The union’s organising team has been supporting members to organise in their workplaces across the chain. During a first well-attended meeting at the school, members identified many issues that were having a negative impact on their workload and morale, including enforced lunch duties, lack of a school calendar, excessive and unannounced observations with no feedback and having to cover for known absences.

At the end of the meeting, the London organiser agreed to attend a follow-up meeting and asked members to identify two priority issues they wanted to change.

The co-rep had left the school at Easter so members were asked to consider who could work with Ben, the workplace rep, to build the National Education Union (NEU) workplace team.

At the second meeting, only a week later, the members had won on the issue of lunchtime duties.

Ben said: “For the five terms that I have been at this Oasis school, staff had been obliged to cover lunch duties as a compulsory part of their week. Despite bringing this to the attention of senior leaders last year, no one took any notice.”

Now, lunchtime duties are voluntary and members who want to do it can opt-in if they want to.

The two priority issues that members wanted to tackle next were cover and observations. The organiser shared the school’s contractual obligations under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions document (STPCD) and NEU guidance and members unanimously agreed that they wanted to stick to “rarely cover” and observation guidelines.

A co-rep was elected, and the rep team agreed to meet the principal to discuss cover and observations. The meeting with the principal went well, with an agreement made that observation feedback is given and that the school will abide by “rarely cover” in the future.

Ben said: “This has given our members – and non-members – a real sense of confidence that they can act collectively to protect their working conditions and rights and we will continue to do so.”