NUT Cymru have called for class sizes to be given more of a priority after the most recent publication of school census statistics showed yet another increase in the percentage of pupils taught in classes of 30 or more students.
Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru Policy Officer said:
“Since 2004 we have seen an almost year on year increase in the percentage of infant and junior pupils in classes over 30. This does have a major impact on standards and is one of the issues that are most frequently highlighted with us as a union.
The Wales TUC conference has voted in favour of NUT Cymru’s motion calling for action on teachers stress related sick leave. Over 50,000 teaching days were lost in each of the last two years as a result of workload pressures and the environment in which teachers work.
As part of the motion the National Union of Teachers, the largest union for qualified teachers in Wales, has called on the Welsh Government to work with local authorities and regional consortia to tackle the causes of stress related illnesses in school as well as examining what policies can be put in place to avoid such illnesses manifesting themselves in the first instance.
Wales Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, who spoke to the motion said:
NUT Cymru says a renewed commitment to the Foundation Phase is essential for its continued success. The Union, the largest union for qualified teachers in Wales, has welcomed the call for a ten-year commitment to give clear support that this is an ethos of teaching that is here to stay.
Strike action has not been taken lightly according to the largest teaching union in Wales. NUT Cymru says that the industrial action, which is due to take place on Wednesday, 26 March, has been the result of a failure by the Westminster Government to recognise the detrimental impact their policies are having on the sector.
Lobby the Governing Body rather than blame us say Unions as teachers strike at Maesydderwen School
Members of the NASUWT and NUT will be taking three days of strike action at Maesydderwen school to protest against the decision of the school governing body to adopt a new pay policy that accepts adverse changes to the pay entitlements of teachers proposed by the Secretary of State in England.
The new pay policy removes the obligation on the governing body to match a teacher's existing salary when they are appointed to the school.
The NUT and NASUWT, representing 9 out of 10 teachers in Wales, have called upon Education Minister, Huw Lewis to stand by the Welsh Government’s opposition to the changes to teachers’ pay being imposed by the Westminster Coalition Government.
The Minister has refused to meet with the representatives of the NASUWT and NUT on the grounds that teachers’ pay is a non-devolved issue.
Regrettably, this message does not appear to have got through to his officials, who decided to get involved in the situation at Maesydderwen School.
Wales’ largest union for qualified teachers has warned that lessons regarding the operation of the national literacy and numeracy tests in 2013 have not been learnt ahead of this year’s test schedule. NUT Cymru says there are concerns within the sector about the implementation this year while teachers still harbour fears in respect of the content of the tests, which came in for widespread criticism last year.
Commenting on this year’s tests, NUT Secretary, David Evans, said:
“Initial feedback we have received this year from members relates to concern over the additional workload that still applies regarding the administration and marking of the tests. The requirement to deliver a short presentation before the commencement of the test, the need to sterilise classrooms used and the fact that they will not be externally marked are just a few of the issues that members feel strongly about.
“It appears that many of the issues raised last year have not been considered and we are concerned that the direction of travel will see the general administration and marking of the tests becoming absorbed into a teacher’s work. Given the ever expanding workload teachers are facing and the impact that has on both standards and the health of teachers, this is not a matter to be taken lightly. We have written to the Education Minister to highlight the views of the profession and hope they are acted upon.”
Speaking on the content of the tests David Evans added:
“There was widespread criticism of the content and layout of the tests last year. An NUT Cymru survey of members showed that 86% of those responding did not believe the content of the tests were relevant or familiar to the everyday lives of pupils. That is an issue that has to be addressed if we are going to have results with any merit at all.
“The tests last year where overwhelmingly criticised by classroom practitioners. Teachers felt they were unnecessarily disruptive, particularly for the younger pupils, and provided little new information about their progress. Going into this round of testing it is essential similar mistakes are not made. It is hard to see how long-term support for this policy by the profession can be achieved.”
Teachers in over half of all Welsh Councils have been forced into taking more stress related leave during the past 12 months than the previous year according to research conducted by the National Union of Teachers. Figures obtained by NUT Cymru show that while overall stress induced leave is down slightly, it remains stubbornly high with over 50,000 teaching days a year lost.
NUT members at Bodnant school in Prestatyn have called for a ballot in response to proposed teaching job losses and the way in which staff at the school are deployed. Denbighshire NUT Secretary Liz McLean said: "The school is seeking to make teachers redundant when its own projections show that it will have over £100,000 in the bank at the start of the next financial year and will have non-teaching staff taking classes."
NUT Cymru are delighted to announce that it will be celebrating International Women's Day by holding its first ever NUT Cymru Women's conference. The conference, titled 'Finding our Voice,' will involve a number of workshops and discussions designed to empower women in the profession. The event aims to create a network to get more women involved in union work as well as in the wider community.
Commenting on the Silk Commission recommendation that teachers’ pay and conditions be devolved to Wales, NUT Cymru Secretary David Evans said:-
“This recommendation should be rejected by the Welsh Government. Acceptance would undoubtedly lead to a position whereby pay rates would be driven down and the NUT could never agree to a situation where teachers in Wales could end up being paid less than colleagues in other areas of the UK for doing the same work. That is an issue previously recognised at the Senedd and there is no valid argument put forward in the Commission’s report that would justify any change of mind. Teachers’ pay and conditions must be protected if we are to ensure that the best practitioners remain in our Welsh schools.
We would expect and trust that an early decision can be made in this regard. Teachers have to be assured that they have the backing of the Welsh Government at a time when they have faced constant attack on their conditions of service from a Westminster Government.”
Another year of school banding volatility has left pupils, parents and teachers in limbo according to Wales’ largest teaching union. NUT Cymru say the fact this year’s publication has followed previous trends of seeing schools yo-yo up and down the bands underlines the need for a fundamental review of the system, in particular issues around the frequency of publication and methodology used to band schools.
Ahead of next month’s school banding publication, NUT Cymru has warned that unless there are fundamental changes to the way the system works, parents will continue to have misleading and sporadic information. The Union has called on the Welsh Government to examine how often the bandings are published as well as the system by which the bandings are ranked.
Commenting on this year’s draft budget, NUT Secretary, David Evans, said:
Commenting on Rhondda Cynon Taff Council’s proposed cuts to nursery services NUT Division Secretary for Rhondda Cynon Taff, Clare Jones, said:
“These changes will have a profound impact on the quality of education in RCT. The plans are going to impact on every single primary and infant school in the local authority with an estimated minimum of 100 teaching jobs and 300 teaching assistant jobs put under threat of loss or reduction in hours as a result.
Commenting on this year’s draft budget, NUT Secretary, David Evans, said:
“We are all well aware of the huge pressures on the funding available to the Welsh Government as a result of cuts being imposed by Westminster. This is an incredibly tight settlement and there is no hiding from the fact there will be implications for the delivery of public services as a result of that.
“Whilst education is not shielded from the implications of cuts to the Welsh Government’s finances, we are pleased that this draft budget has provided new and significant investment for the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG). This funding has been welcomed by NUT members in the past as making a big difference at school level and I am sure teachers, head teachers and deputy head teachers will be pleased to see this included as part of the budget deal.