Campaigns & News
Decolonising The Curriculum
Following the NEU Decolonising the Curriculum Conference in December 2019 : Decolonising Education Conference (video) members in several regions are working on reviewing curriculum content to include Black history– here’s a couple of recommended resources that have good lesson plans and materials:
- Hackney’s Diverse Curriculum ─ the Black Contribution
The Black Contribution is a series of free 9-week lesson plans. From Early years through to KS3 and 4. Resources are available here.
The site has a range of historical source material, arranged into four time-period categories: AD43-1500; 1500-1750; 1750-1900; 1900-2000s. The ‘Teaching resources‘ sub-site provides lesson plans and classroom activities.
Also see BHM packs for members. For KS1/2, there are ideas for 5 global equality and cultural events. (Martin Luther King Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, Chinese New Year, Black History month around the world and LGBT+ History month). Also see pack for KS3 and 4. There are also podcasts featuring Black women being released every month to encourage Black History to be in the curriculum all year.
Show Racism The Red Card
Please encourage reps and members to take part in Show Racism the Red Card’s Annual Schools Competition.
SRTRC launches its latest film ‘Take the knee’ on Wednesday 17 February at 2pm and will be live streamed on Facebook.
Remote learning: parent microsite
Thousands of parents/carers have logged onto our Learning Under Lockdown website since the relaunch. Families can access fun and creative activities to do together, as well as union guidance around issues such as child wellbeing and support for pupils with SEND. Our Learning Under Lockdown home-schooling website for parents/carers has tips for fun and creative activities for families, including some easy art ideas from NEU member Sarah and free workshops from Music for Youth. There is also union guidance on expectations around remote learning.
Education Recovery Plan
The NEU Education Recovery Plan (mark 2) is now published. It is a really excellent plan with three sections on safety, education recovery and building a more equal society where all can succeed.
With the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday about the wider re-opening of schools, our reps, members and branch officers have worked together to develop five key demands:
- Risk Assessment – Refer to the NEU safety checklists for full opening and the current partial opening period and our advice on the risk assessment process.
- Observations – No formal observations should happen, in the classroom or online. Any observations should be supportive, particularly of remote learning. Peer observations are the best option to develop a collegiate ethos.
- PPA – In addition to the existing timetabled, guaranteed PPA and non-contact time, NEU groups should seek to negotiate additional tim to meet the extra demands of remote learning, in order to make it as educationally beneficial as possible.
- Pay progression – Secure a commitment to automatic pay progression at the end of this academic year. Where possible, win a commitment for this policy to be permanent.
Keep Early Years Safe and Funded
This week, jointly with Unison, we launched a ‘keep early years safe and funded’ petition and asked members to write and tweet to their MP on the issue. Our demands are to place all early years settings in the lockdown, apart from for key worker and vulnerable children, and to ensure no financial determent to any setting. On Tuesday there was a Parliamentary debate to discuss ongoing safety and funding concerns of the sector. See press coverage below. We wrote to all early years members and hosted a Zoom meeting for the sector this week, along with launching this new webpage.
Today we have sent this letter to council leaders and this letter to the Prime Minister and Gavin Williamson raising our campaign demands. Please sign and share this petition here to support the campaign.
Please let us know what is happening your area by taking this short survey.
Exams: grades to be awarded by teacher assessment
It was announced that A-level and GCSE exams will be cancelled and Government will “put trust in teachers rather than algorithms” for the awarding of grades this year. It is unacceptable that there is still no detail for educators or students on how this process will work in practice. The NEU remains willing to work with the Government and Ofqual to get the fairest possible outcome for students. We will make clear that the system for teacher assessment and moderation cannot involve dumping further workload on a profession which is already hugely overstretched. It is also essential that urgent clarification is given to students working towards vocational and technical qualifications on how they will receive these and how awarding organisations will ensure no student is disadvantaged whether they take January exams or not. Read more here.
Gavin Williamson revealed this week that SATs and other formal primary tests will not go ahead this academic year. This is a huge victory for parents, educators, politicians and members of the More Than A Score coalition, of which NEU is a leading member, who had campaigned against these unnecessary tests taking place this year. Williamson himself admitted the tests would be “an additional burden on schools”: this is true not just this year but in any year. Having seen the cancellation of formal primary tests two years running, our focus must now be on winning the campaign that they should be scrapped for good.
With the new lockdown coming into force this week, Gavin Williamson announced to MPs that “remote learning is mandatory for all state-funded schools and will be enforced by Ofsted.” This attempt to pit educators and parents against one another, with Ofsted as an adjudicator is a disgraceful and unhelpful attempt to stir up conflict between parents and schools at a time when everyone is doing their utmost to ensure the best education provision to pupils in unprecedented circumstances. Read more about our Ofsted guidance here. We have updated our guidance and resources on remote learning, which are available here. We are working on some exciting plans to expand our guidance, support and resources for both educators and parents around remote learning which we will share with you as soon as we can.
Free School Meals
The NEU was relieved by Gavin Williamson’s promise to reinstate a national Free School Meal voucher scheme to provide families eligible for FSM with the means to access them during the national lockdown. However, at the time of writing, the voucher scheme has not been reinstated/launched and schools have been asked instead to provide ‘food parcels’ to be collected by parents/carers. This will suit some communities but puts others at unnecessary risk, as well as being potentially costly and stigmatising. We will be using social media to lobby Gavin Williamson this weekend to keep his promise to reinstate the voucher scheme quickly rather than expect schools to arrange food distribution. Please encourage your members to keep an eye on their social media and support our messages to make the Government act fast on the voucher system.
Laptops for disadvantaged students
The digital divide is being hotly debated again, as new data from Ofcom shows approximately 9% of children in the UK are without access to a laptop, desktop or tablet, equating to up to 1.78 million children. 880,000 children are living in a household with only a mobile internet connection in addition to those children with no connection at all (ONS estimated 60,000 children had no home internet access at all prior to the pandemic). The NEU does not think the Government is doing enough to get laptops and internet access to parents and carers and we’re stepping up campaigning around the digital divide as lockdown is starting. All children urgently need access to the tools they need to learn from home safely. Please share our messages on the digital divide issue when you see them on social media this weekend.
AGENDA is an online resource for educators who want to empower children (age 7-18) to make positive relationships matter in their schools and communities. It has equality, inclusivity, children’s rights and social justice at its heart and offers creative ways of how practitioners can support children to explore and express what matters to them. It can be used to develop inclusive, relevant and rights-respecting relationships and sexuality education.
Check out the latest national campaigns HERE!