Jeremy Corbyn and Nicky Morgan to address teaching union conferences

Teachers to discuss industrial action at Easter gatherings

Hundreds of teachers will gather this weekend at annual teaching union conferences, where pay, workload, assessment and performance management will be high on the agenda.

And while politicians have in previous years stayed away from the gatherings, this year education secretary Nicky Morgan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will both be in attendance.

Mr Corbyn will address delegates at the NUT conference in Brighton on Friday afternoon and Ms Morgan will address the NASUWT conference in Birmingham on Saturday morning.

Politicians have traditionally not been invited to the NUT’s annual gathering, but Mr Corbyn is understood to have asked to attend, meaning the union has technically not broken its convention by hosting him.

Talk of industrial action is expected at both conferences, and there are four likely flashpoints:

  • Workload

The NUT will debate whether national strike action is necessary to bring about changes to the “intolerable working conditions and lack of work-life balance” created by government policies.

There will be a call for preparations for a ballot of members for national strike action “should begin immediately” if negotiations with education secretary Nicky Morgan are not successful.

Ms Morgan is expected to make an announcement on the three workload review groups – marking, lesson planning and data management – this week.

At the NASUWT conference, delegates will consider calling for industrial action to put pressure on the government to enforce guidance to stop the abuse of marking procedures by schools.

The union will also push for members to continue challenging poor practice and the lack of regard for teachers’ wellbeing by all appropriate means – including collective industrial action.

  • Primary school testing

A key focus of the NUT conference this weekend will be KS1 and KS2 tests and baseline assessments.

The union will discuss the prospect of a boycott of all primary school tests, warning that a “testing culture” is damaging children.

One motion will call on the NUT’s executive to ballot members in primary schools for a boycott of baseline tests this year – potentially before the end of summer term.

There is also a suggestion for the executive to “consider a ballot for the boycott of all statutory tests within primary schools in 2016”.

Another motion calls for a campaign against all testing, and urges the union to ballot members for a boycott of all primary assessments in 2017/18.

  • Performance management

NASUWT members are “deeply concerned” about the continued use of pupil performance data to “set crude performance management targets” for teachers and school leaders.

A motion has called for the national executive to continue to challenge such practices in schools and colleges through all legitimate means –including industrial action.

The NASUWT executive will also be asked to strengthen its approach to addressing the use of factors outside the teacher’s control for determining outcomes of performance management.

  • Pay

The NASUWT is proposing to continue using all legitimate means – up to and including industrial action – to promote acceptable pay arrangements and employment conditions in schools and colleges to challenge exploitative practices being used.

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