NASUWT COMMENTS ON SPRING STATEMENT

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The forthcoming full three-year spending review is needed urgently to tackle the serious financial pressures affecting delivery of education and other vital public services for children and young people.

“The Chancellor’s speech today may provide promises for future government spending but it provides nothing to meet the pressing needs of schools today.

“The era of austerity will continue despite the Chancellor’s statement. Teachers and headteachers will be looking to the government urgently to address the years of real-terms cuts to school budgets and the drastic erosion of teachers’ salaries which has contributed to the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

“The NASUWT welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to fund access to free sanitary products for pupils in secondary schools from next year. However, it is vital that this scheme is extended to cover all primary schools and colleges to ensure that no girl misses out on her education or has her dignity compromised due to period poverty.

“The fact that so many families cannot afford sanitary products for their children is in itself a reflection of the shameful indictment on the Government’s policies, which have hit the poorest hardest, and especially children and young people. 

“The Chancellor would do well to poverty impact assess any future government spending priorities and decisions.”

NASUWT WELCOMES VERDICT IN UPSKIRTING CASE

The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has welcomed the guilty verdict against a pupil who took covert upskirt photos of two NASUWT members at a school in Fermanagh.

The pupil, who was aged 14 and 15 at the time he captured the footage of two female teachers at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School in 2015 and 2016, has been found guilty on all counts of committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency.

The NASUWT pressed for the Public Prosecution Service to take action against the pupil and has been representing and supporting the members involved since the incidents came to light.

While welcoming the verdict, the case has highlighted the inadequacy of current legal protections in Northern Ireland. The NASUWT is calling for legislation to be enacted to create an offence of upskirting in criminal law. This would bring Northern Ireland into line with legislation in England and Scotland. The Department of Justice last week launched a consultation on making upskirting a criminal offence in Northern Ireland.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Our members have had to endure not only the violation of knowing that a pupil took intimate images of them while they were teaching, but also several years of anxious delay before this case could be brought to court. It was only due to the persistence of the NASUWT and the strength and resolve of the members that it did so at all.

“We very much welcome today’s verdict which will hopefully provide the teachers with a sense of closure and allow them to move on from these distressing events. It also sends out a clear message to pupils that engaging in such degrading behaviour is completely unacceptable.

“Today’s verdict sends a message to teachers that they do not have to put up with sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace. Where teachers are experiencing such abuse they can know that the NASUWT will act to protect their right to work in safety.

“This case has highlighted the inadequacy of current laws around sexual harassment in Northern Ireland. Legislation has failed to keep up with the advent of mobile technology and it is clear new powers are needed to create an offence of upskirting, which would bring Northern Ireland into line with the laws in England and Scotland.”

CHEADLE TEACHERS TO STRIKE

Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union at the Together Trust (Ashcroft School and Ashcroft College) in Cheadle will be taking the first of six planned days of strike action tomorrow (Tuesday 26 February).

This action is as a result of adverse changes which have been made to teachers’ pay and conditions of service and the refusal of the employer to recognise trade unions.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Teachers at the Together Trust are dedicated professionals; committed to the pupils they teach.

“Unfortunately, their dedication and commitment, has not prevented their Employer from making adverse changes to their pay and conditions, leaving them with no choice but to take strike action.

“Teachers’ working conditions are inextricably linked to the provision of high quality education for pupils.

“The Trust has removed teachers from the national terms and conditions of service which were introduced to raise standards of education.

“In addition, the Trust has made changes to the staffing structure which has had further adverse impacts on terms and conditions of service, including pay.

“Teachers at the Trust are now paid less that their colleagues in other schools, despite their specialist skills and experience.

“Cutting teachers’ pay, worsening their working conditions will impact not just on the teachers but also on the provision of education for pupils across the Trust.

“Retention and recruitment of teachers will be badly affected.

“Strike action is always a last resort for teachers.

“The NASUWT members very much regret any disruption this action will cause to pupils and parents, but a stand must be made against such unnecessary and unreasonable actions by their Employer.”

Rachel Knight, NASUWT National Executive Member for Cheshire, said:

“The NASUWT has had several meetings with the Trust in an effort to address the concerns and avoid strike action. We suspended planned action in December and January on the understanding that the Trust would engage with us through ACAS to seek a resolution to the dispute.

“An agreement was reached but regrettably the Trust has reneged on it.

“We urge the Employer to recognise the depth of teachers’ concern about the way in which they are being treated and to agree to work constructively with the NASUWT to address the issues so further strike action can be avoided.”

SCHOOLS FAILING TO PROMOTE LGBTI EQUALITY AND CHALLENGE PREJUDICE

Too many schools are still failing to educate pupils about same sex relationships and promote LGBTI equality and inclusiveness, teachers have told the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union.

Teachers attending the Union’s LGBTI Teachers’ Consultation Conference today (Saturday) in Birmingham raised concerns that many schools are still failing to tackle homo/bi/transphobia.

A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

  • Only 32% said that their school includes same sex relationships as part of its teaching about relationships and families;
  • 56% said they had witnessed some backlash from either pupils, parents or colleagues when their school tried to teach pupils about LGBTI relationships & equality;
  • 41% said they feel their school does not take tackling homo/bi/transphobia seriously.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Schools have a very important role to play in promoting LGBTI equality, which starts with ensuring the curriculum is inclusive and that a strong message is sent to the whole school community that homo/bi or transphobic abuse or bullying will not be tolerated.

“Schools should be safe environments where staff and students of all sexual and gender identities feel included and respected. Where LGBTI equality is not mainstreamed into the work of a school this is unlikely be to the case.

“We need greater support for schools in taking forward this work and action where schools do not promote a culture of inclusiveness.”

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