ECSG on the frontline: February 2019

ECSG updates from the frontline: February 2019

Prospect negotiators for the education and children's services group give their updates from the last month.

Claire Dent – Negotiations executive for London and the South East

Chris Manning – Negotiations executive for the Midlands, South and Wales

Stuart Anderson – Negotiations Executive for Scotland, North and North west

Claire Dent

It has once again been a settled period in Education and Children Services but I have spent some time discussing collective issues.

In Hertfordshire I, along with my union colleagues, have attempted to open a dialogue with Herts for Learning (HfL) around gaining recognition and therefore bargaining rights for all their employees. The joint unions already hold recognition for staff that transferred over to HfL under TUPE regulations.

However, as we move into a new period, new staff that are recruited directly into HfL do not benefit from having their terms and conditions negotiated collectively by their union officials.

While the management within HfL appear to acknowledge the benefit of negotiating with the unions collectively they are resistant to extending this recognition for all staff, citing that ‘the board members could not see the benefit’. We will continue this dialogue and have asked to address the board directly but this has so far been refused.

Management have also argued that staff are resistant to union involvement. I don’t believe this is the case so if you work for HfL or have colleagues who do encourage them to raise this with their managers and ensure they join Prospect if they are not already members.

With sufficient number of members we could force recognition in collaboration with the other unions and ensure everyone working for HfL has their Terms and Conditions and their salary robustly negotiated.

Facebook Live

As you may be aware Prospect ran a very successful recruitment event in November last year, part of which was a Facebook Live event (watch it here) which I co-hosted with Jill DePaolis, the president of The Education and Childrens Services (ECS) Group Executive Committee.

We had over 200 people watch the presentation where we discussed many issues related to education and the work that you undertake. It remains vital that we engage with staff working in all the multi-faceted areas of education and continue to encourage colleagues to join Prospect.

Only by continuing to grow our membership can we have a loud voice with Government and other stakeholders, portraying the clear message that you, as the workers on the coalface, should be consulted when considering how services should be delivered.

Personal cases – social media warning

Personal cases that have required my support during this period include a manager who is under investigation for her personal use of social media which the employer considers has brought the organisation into disrepute.

While nothing has yet been proved it is a timely reminder that even if you post something on your own personal social media account this could be challenged by your employer.

Always be aware of your employers’ social media policy and consider everything you post, whether privately or as part of your role in light of this policy.

Chris Manning

A happy New Year to all readers of Education Eye! I hope you had a relaxing Christmas break and wish you all well for 2019.

Personal case work for ECS Group members has taken up the majority of my time over the last few months; supporting members through grievance, disciplinary, performance management, restructure/redundancy and contract issues.

One particularly good outcome involved a member charged with gross misconduct and facing potential dismissal. After supporting the member through the investigation stage and the disciplinary hearing, robust defence and mitigation arguments resulted in the case against the member being dropped and a judgement by the Disciplinary Panel of “no case to answer”.

Education in Wales

I have become more involved with Education in Wales at a more strategic level. Recently I have attended the National Academy for Educational Leadership (NAEL) ‘Unions Stakeholder Group’ and the Welsh Government Education Directorate’s ‘Strategic Stakeholder Group’ and ‘Education Group’ meetings. The NAEL is a new organisation and its remit can be found here.

The new Curriculum & Assessment White Paper was published on 28 January for an eight week public consultation and will close on 25 March. The White Paper can be found here. You can respond via the consultation on the website, or directly by email, but if any members would like Prospect to make a submission to the consultation on their behalf please email [email protected] with your views.

The Welsh Government is also consulting on its draft Additional Learning Needs Code. The consultation document is available here and the closing date for responses is 22 March.

Get involved

In the previous edition of Education Eye I invited you to consider whether you could do more for Prospect. I described the kind of cases that members bring to the union and explained how, with training provided by Prospect, you could become an accredited Prospect Representative and help out your Full Time Officer at a local level. Thank you if you have already contacted Prospect to offer your assistance and get more involved.

We understand that a lot of our ECS Group members already have very busy lives and can also be working at fairly senior levels within their organisations, so it isn’t always easy to find additional time to take on the role of a Prospect Rep. If this applies to you and you feel that you would like to help but just can’t commit too much time, please don’t worry.

As full-time officers, stretched over large geographical areas, it is always useful to have members simply acting as points of contact in their workplace. This is something that you could also help out with, would take up very little time and would be very much appreciated.

Points of contact

As a local point of contact you would be someone we could speak to if we needed to arrange a visit to your workplace. If we wanted to come in, talk to existing members and try to recruit new members by talking to them about the benefits of membership, you could assist by arranging the visit with the employer, making sure that a suitable area/room is booked and spreading the word amongst colleagues.

If we are attending consultative meetings with your employer you could bring us up to date on any issues of concern to our members so that we are better equipped when we go into the meeting.

You can also provide early warning of issues affecting you and your colleagues and advise us on who we should speak to in your organisation to try to obtain a speedy resolution.

If you would like to nominate yourself as a local point of contact for your workplace please email [email protected]

Your assistance would be invaluable, would help Prospect operate more effectively and would hopefully generate an increase in membership.

Army Welfare Service

In the previous Education Eye I mentioned the potential for a recruitment opportunity within the Ministry of Defence’s Army Welfare Service (AWS), which provides support for service children. In November we held a successful recruitment event with the AWS and signed up an additional seven members.

The best people to recruit new Prospect members are existing Prospect members. Those of you employed on Soulbury terms & conditions will know that Prospect negotiates centrally on pay increases and improvements to Soulbury. It is therefore surprising that there are staff working in some of your areas who are on Soulbury terms but who aren’t Prospect members.

This is where you can help. Please speak to your colleagues and make sure that they know which union represents their interests the best. Encourage them to join Prospect. Help us to be truly representative of the grades and roles that we negotiate for.

If every existing member spoke to and recruited just one new member we would soon double our membership, and don’t forget that by taking advantage of our Member Recruit Member incentive you can claim a £10.00 voucher (or other incentive) for each member you recruit.

I look forward to meeting more of you throughout the coming year.

Stuart Anderson

Prospect’s Education and Children’s Services Group have previously tentatively welcomed the plans outlined by Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman for a new inspection regime.

Consultation has now opened and Prospect will take time to carefully consider the proposals before responding to the consultation which closes on the 5th of April.

Ofsted has historically gravitated to the current model for inspection that measures the easily measurable. The proposals in the consultation documents clearly indicate a change of direction with the laudable intention to reward teaching that values real substance of education and not simply the data outcomes.

Prospect represents both self-employed consultants who carry out inspections and directly employed inspectors, and our members carry out inspections in schools and Early Years settings. We also represent a range of professionals that have an interest in the outcomes of Ofsted inspections.

Standardising a new approach across inspectors and consultation will not be easy, and consultation with the professionals who undertake inspections will be absolutely crucial to delivering this effective change.

We will therefore be seeking to ensure that views from across the Ofsted workforce as well as teachers and teaching unions are taken into account. If you undertake Ofsted inspections as consultant or if you are employed as a Her Majesty’s Inspector, and would like you views to be considered as part of Prospect’s response to the consultation, please get in touch at [email protected]