Equalities Bulletin - summer 2012
The Union has produced an Equalities Duties Toolkit to help School Representatives, teacher governors, Division Secretaries and Equalities Officers understand schools’ duties within equalities legislation. The toolkit also provides helpful examples of how a school might ensure it complies with legislation in certain situations.
It is imperative that schools understand the recent changes to legislation and adapt their policies and processes appropriately. The legislation now covers more protected characteristics than previously, including age, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief and sexual orientation, in addition to gender, race and disability. Schools must now “advance”, not “promote”, equality of opportunity.
Schools and colleges are required by law to proactively eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for both staff and pupils who share a protected characteristic, as well as to foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. This means schools must assess the impact of their policies and practices on the people affected by them and take steps to remove any barriers that come to light where it is proportionate to do so.
You can find the Toolkit here.
Women are the majority of the teaching profession and make up nearly 80 per cent of the Union’s membership. It is therefore crucial that the views of all groups of women members are heard at all levels in the Union, yet they are under-represented at both Executive and Divisional levels. Forty per cent of the National Executive and 34 per cent of Divisional Secretaries are women.
In an effort to address this, Annual Conference 2012 resolved to review the structures and mechanisms of the Union with the aim of ensuring that the percentage of women involved in Union activities and structures are proportionate to membership numbers. Conference decided to change its speaking card process at Annual Conference to ensure a more equal number of men and women speak in debates.
We want to hear from women members on how the Union can increase opportunities for women to take up roles and responsibilities in the NUT. A survey will be emailed to a sample of women members during the autumn term.
The Union is delighted that the lecture will be given this year by Benjamin Zephaniah, the globally renowned poet, novelist, playwright, musician and television and radio presenter.
The lecture will take place in the Council House in Benjamin’s home town of Birmingham. He will speak on current themes in race, resistance and education.
This year’s event will be the sixth annual memorial lecture hosted by the NUT in conjunction with the Walker family and the Anthony Walker Foundation.
Anthony was murdered in a brutal, racially motivated attack in Liverpool on 30 July 2005. The lecture is one of a range of activities which keep Anthony’s memory alive and continues the fight against racist violence. It is held every year during Black History Month. This year the event will take place on the evening of Friday 19 October.
The lecture is free to attend but booking is essential. Please contact the event team by email to AWL@nut.org.uk or telephone 020 7380 4861.
The National Executive now has three equality constituency seats:-
- Annette Pryce represents LGBT members for 2012-2014
- Betty Joseph represents black members for 2012-2014
- Mandy Hudson represents disabled members for 2012-2014
The creation of the new seats on the Executive is not designed to remove equality as a focus from the other elected National Executive members who represent geographical regions. Executive members representing their areas will continue to serve on equality advisory committees and to champion issues of equality for members in their areas.
The new equality constituency seats are to give additional and specific focus to the barriers within teaching, and within the Union, for black, LGBT and disabled members. The Executive members will consider what the Union needs to focus on, and will be speaking at local NUT divisions and at regional councils.
If you are a teacher who identifies as disabled, black or LGBT, get more involved in supporting the Union’s equality campaigns by contacting your local NUT equalities officer. They will welcome any support, ideas and enthusiasm which you can supply!
The NUT is concerned about recent announcements that the Government is to substantially reduce the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) budget and outsource its helpline.
The General Secretary has written to the EHRC stating the NUT’s support for a strong and independent Commission, and to Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities, to urge her to reverse the proposed changes and instead back a strong and well-supported EHRC.
A model letter to Lynne Featherstone has also been posted on the NUT website here for use by members who wish to voice their concerns. The model letter and letters sent by the General Secretary are available online here.
A strong and independent Commission is essential if employers, trade unions and employees are to tackle the very persistent and stubborn inequalities in the UK which cannot be resolved by relying on the goodwill of employers. The proposed cuts and narrowing of the Commission’s focus will undermine its crucial work.
The NUT is supporting the Children’s Society survey to gather teachers’ views on school food, including the impact of hunger on your pupils and how many children are hungry during school hours. The Children’s Society’s Fair and Square campaign is calling for all children living in poverty to be able to receive a healthy free school meal.