BAN ON ENERGY DRINK SALES TO UNDER 16s WELCOMED

Today’s announcement by Waitrose to ban sales of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s has been welcomed by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union.

The NASUWT has been engaged, for sometime, in researching and raising awareness of the adverse impact of energy drinks on the behaviour of children and young people and has called for the Government to commission independent research into energy drink use and the long-term effects on children’s health.

The NASUWT campaign was initiated as a result of teachers and headteachers raising with the Union their concerns about the increasing consumption of energy drinks by children and the impact on teaching and learning. More than one in ten teachers who responded to the NASUWT Annual Big Question Survey 2017 cited energy drinks as a key cause of poor pupil behaviour in schools.

A typical energy drink contains 32mg of caffeine per 100ml and a single 500ml can contains 160mg of caffeine, equal to a mug and a half of instant coffee. Warning labels on energy drinks say they are not suitable for children.

When the issues first came to light the NASUWT worked with the drug and alcohol charity Swanswell to produce information to raise awareness among parents, pupils and teachers of the high levels of stimulants which energy drinks contain and their potential impact on children’s behaviour and health.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Waitrose has taken a positive and responsible step which hopefully not only other supermarkets will follow, but which will also encourage the Government to produce national guidelines on recommended consumption levels of caffeine for children.

“These drinks are readily available legal highs and are leading to children and young people consuming high levels of stimulants, with little known about the long-term health impacts.

“Teachers are left to deal with the effects these stimulants have on pupil behaviour.

“There is a chronic lack of awareness about the effects of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink.”

Guidance produced by the NASUWT is attached.

Energy drinks guidance.pdf.

Some suggested steps schools can take are:
Discuss the issue at a staff meeting sharing information and gather experiences from staff.
Make sure that staff are aware of the main energy drink brands available on the market and the recommendations issued by the European Commission on their use by children and young people.
Draw the attention of parents to the issue of energy drinks and inviting them to have a conversation with their children about their use of these products.
Use this information to highlight key facts on energy drinks to pupils through, for example, assemblies, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lessons and engagement with school councils.

NASUWT COMMENTS ON OFSTED’S ANNUAL REPORT - Dec 2017

Commenting on Ofsted’s Annual Report, published today, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“It is clear from the report that the teaching profession continues to secure high quality learning experiences for children and young people. This is despite the continuing pressures teachers are facing in terms of depressed pay, excessive workload and the knock-on impact of the major recruitment and retention crisis.

“This success has been achieved despite the government’s education policies, not because of them and we see in Ofsted’s report some of the consequences of the government’s failure to exercise strategic leadership over the education system.

“Weaknesses in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, a lack of oversight over apprenticeships and the challenges faced by pupils with SEND are all a result of the government’s ideologically driven laissez faire approach to education.

“It is past time for the DfE to recognise that unless the government fulfils the critical responsibilities of the state, the problems and shortcomings in the system identified by Ofsted today will only persist, broaden and intensify.”

WORKLOAD IS A MAJOR BARRIER TO TEACHING AS A CAREER, SAY TEACHERS

Workload is the biggest barrier to young teachers making the profession their career, a conference organised by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, has heard.
Young teachers aged 30 and under gathered in Birmingham today (Saturday) for the NASUWT’s Young Teachers’ Consultation Conference to take part in professional development workshops and receive support and advice.
A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

  • More than four in ten (43%) teachers say workload gets in the way of teaching being considered a career for life;
  • One in ten teachers (12%) say they will be leaving teaching within one year;
  • Less than a quarter (21%) say they would recommend teaching as a career to family or friends;

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“It was clear that the young teachers at the conference are absolutely and fully committed to being great teachers and to serving the children and young people they teach.
“However, it is deeply worrying that many do not feel confident of being able to remain in teaching in the longer term and would not recommend a career in teaching to others.
“Spiralling workloads, unsustainable working hours and worsening pay and conditions of service are the main factors impacting on young teachers’ morale and job satisfaction.
“The deepening recruitment and retention crisis gripping our schools will not be solved unless Government acts on the concerns of young teachers.”

NASUWT COMMENTS ON OFQUAL PROPOSALS ON COMPUTER SCIENCE

Commenting on the announcement by Ofqual around issues related to GCSE Computer Science, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The NASUWT recognises that Ofqual has a critical responsibility to establish and maintain public and professional confidence in the qualification system. To this end it is appropriate for Ofqual to investigate and report on aspects of this system when questions about its integrity have arisen.

“Further, it is clear that Ofqual has a duty to ensure that timely and effective action is taken, when necessary, to address any concerns that may arise from these investigations.

“The NASUWT understands why Ofqual has felt it necessary to investigate whether action need to be taken in relation to non-examined assessments in GCSE Computer Science.

“Many of the issues raised today relate to the rushed and poorly thought-through qualifications reform process implemented by the Department for Education.

“The NASUWT warned at the time that the GCSE reform process was taking unacceptable risks with the qualifications system. It therefore remains a matter of profound regret that these warning were not heeded by Ministers.”

Additional information