So How Have You Measured Up Mr Hammond?

In the lead up to today’s budget, the National Education Union (NEU) set the Chancellor six tests on education funding. Those tests were:

  1. Reverse school cuts now;
  2. New money from the Treasury;
  3. High needs, early years and post-16 sectors to be fairly funded;
  4. A 5 year funding plan for schools and colleges;
  5. Historic underfunding addressed;
  6. All pay rises fully implemented and funded.


In his Budget Statement to Parliament there was hardly any mention of education. The only real commitment was that there would be an extra £400m for schools as a one-off capital payment so that each primary school would get £10,000 and each secondary school £50,000. However, this is not a permanent increase in schools funding but just a small amount of money for the ‘little extras’ every school needs!


There were a couple of other commitments made in the Statement. More money was given to Local Councils but how much of that goes into the education pot is unknown and will probably vary in each local council. Another commitment was the formation of young peoples mental health crisis teams in each NHS region but there needs to be more details of this initiative and especially how .schools and colleges fit into this proposal.


So overall not a good budget for education funding. None of the six tests have been addressed so now it will be up to the NEU membership to decide what they want to do about this lack of funding for education.


Prepare for Action over Pay

Many teachers in England are wondering what has happened to their pay. By this time last year, the Tory Government had decided what their response to the School Teacher Pay Review Body Report would be and published it. The Government’s excuse was that the election had intervened and delayed their consideration of the report. Whilst many of us would welcome another election, it cannot be an excuse for the Government’s delay this year.

So why the delay in making a decision about our pay for this year? The answer seems to lie in the Treasury. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, appears to be reluctant to agree an increase for teachers. We know that the Government received the report at the beginning of May but since then there has been silence over any response by the Government. We know that Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, has been trying to get an agreement with the Treasury on the funding for schools and colleges but we don’t know the outcome of these negotiations.

This situation poses many difficulties for teachers. Rumours abound. Some say the Government will agree an increase of 3.5%, other rumours predict that it will be unfunded, others that it will be funded. Our claim, supported by most of the teacher unions was for 5% for all. So, what are the scenarios the National Education Union (NEU) could face:

·         The first scenario is how near to 5% the pay award is. Is 3.5% acceptable? It certainly breaks the pattern of ‘pay restraint’ we have had to endure over the last seven years but it doesn’t really make much of a mark on the on the 15+% pay cut we have had since 2010.

·         The second scenario is if the pay award is fully funded. Many may find this acceptable because it would leave us free to campaign on workload, curriculum changes and other campaigns. However, that for others may depend on how near to 5% the pay award is.

·         The third scenario is if the pay award is not fully funded or only partially funded. In the main schools do not have reserves to meet unfunded or partially funded pay award. So, the money to pay staff would come, fully or partially, from the existing schools’ budgets. In this case many schools may decide not to follow the Government’s advice and there would be a danger of effectively breaking the national pay scales.

It is this third scenario that is the most dangerous for the NEU. Certainly, the Government will be seeking to limit the damage to its existing pay policy. It has agreed that pay awards this year can be more than 1% but so far none in the public sector have gone beyond 3%. We know that Philip Hammond and the Treasury were not very happy with May’s decision to increase the funding to the NHS by £20million. Will they permit an increase for teachers to be fully funded? It seems very unlikely.

So, what should our response to this situation be. First, we must recognise that if the pay award is not funded then the Government is throwing down a challenge to the NEU and the other teacher unions. Secondly, we need to recognise that the delay in making the Government’s position on the Pay Review Report is deliberate. They are playing for time knowing that if they can string it out for a couple more weeks then the chances of any action this term are very slim. So, the second point we need to make is that we need to start the process of informing and discussing with our members now. Concretely this must mean union meetings in schools, as soon as possible, to make our position clear, any award must be fully funded. We need to make it clear that we will meet any attempt to divide and rule by not fully funding the pay award, by national action. We need to make clear to our Executive members that our members support such action. Only in this way can our members be prepared for any action if the Government tries to avoid paying us a fully funded pay award.

Jon Duveen, Cambridgeshire NUT Section.

Resources for teaching about Palestine

The STA has consistently campaigned for solidarity with the Palestinian people against their oppression by the Israeli government. STA members have recently been involved in developing teaching resources to help teachers in schools teach about the conflict.

1.    Resources using the novel "A Little Piece of Ground" can be viewed here.
2.    Read Kiri Tunks' article on "Why we should teach about conflict."
3.    A website containing further resources can be found here.

Items 1 and 3 can be downloaded from the Education for Liberation page.

The Education Debate
Articles from the STA magazine, Education for Liberation, can be viewed by clicking on the links below or downloaded from the Education for Liberation page.

The battle for the curriculum by John Yandell
In a previous edition of Education for Liberation John Yandell argued that Michael Gove doesn’t just want to ration access to education; he wants to keep it just as it used to be, in the good old days (that never were). The schooling that was good enough for Gladstone is good enough for Gove and good enough for the youth of today. Read more.

Myths of assessment by John Yandell

I want to explore five aspects or strands of the way in which we tend to think about assessment. In calling these strands myths, I am suggesting two things. First, that they are both powerful and deeply embedded in our assumptions about assessment: they have become, in other words, common sense.  Second, that they are, in important ways, untrue and unhelpful, obstacles that make it harder for us to arrive at more accurate and adequate understandings of assessment. Read more

Gove:reactionary or moderniser? asks Martin Allen

Despite his polished performance in the Commons in the absence of any real Labour opposition – Michael Gove is not ‘modernising’ the qualification system at all. Neither do his proposals have anything to do with improving ‘international competitiveness’. On the contrary, Gove is continuing the Tory Right’s obsession with protecting the ‘standards’ of the few from the aspirations of the majority – attempting to restore an educational agenda thought to have been discarded long ago. His policies, if implemented, can only make schools more unequal still. Read more

Creating readers by Mike Rosen
I’ve sometimes said that reading books in schools is a subversive activity. This seems counter-intuitive. Schools are surely places which foster the idea that the written text is one of the best means of carrying ideas and knowledge. Read more

Standard Values

What the Tory-led Coalition has in mind for the future of teaching is revealed very clearly in a new version of the Teachers’ Standards, which is to replace one of the more bizarre publications of the New Labour era. Read more

GCSEs and assessment

What are tests for? Do we have a system that needs a bit of tweaking, or are these problems more fundamental? Read more