The general secretary reported on the NUT's oral evidence to the Review Body. The review body asked questions on a number of topics, some of which had not been addressed in previous years. These concerned:
* Restructuring of mainstream and special school headteachers' salaries, including the future basis for performance related progression.
* Performance management and pay, including the threshold criteria, the manageability of threshold assessment and the school performance award scheme.
* Leadership group and advanced school teachers, including the relevance of the leadership group concept, placing senior management team members on a common spine and the future position of ASTs.
In its evidence the NUT criticised the government's attitude to teacher shortages as being fundamentally flawed. The government displayed a lack of understanding of the difficulties schools faced not having the resources to fill vacancies. These were the concealed vacancies that many schools had to cope with and which the government's statistics failed to recognise.
Similarly, the government was displaying complacency in claiming sufficient numbers of new recruits entering teaching, without keeping track of teacher trainees at the point of entry and those who successfully completed their training and took up employment.
The drop out rate was being ignored. The government's only response to a major problem was to introduce palliatives, such as golden hellos, selective measures and fast tracking.
The NUT questioned the commitment of the government and of local authorities to reducing bureaucratic workload. The general secretary reported that a meeting was scheduled later in the month with Jacqui Smith, parliamentary under-secretary of state for school standards, involving the teacher organisations, in order to take stock following the decisions last year of the DfEE bureaucracy working party.
The union had evidence that there was still much to be done on the part of the government and local authorities in order to reduce bureaucracy. Local authorities had not acted as the promised gatekeepers and were allowing increases in bureaucracy in various areas that had been the subject of agreement in the working party.
The NUT told the review body that easing the pressures on teachers could only come from an improved professional contract, negotiated nationally, with guaranteed non-contact time and cover for absent colleagues only in cases of emergency.
The NUT pointed out to the STRB that it could satisfy the expectations of teachers by accepting the Union's claim for an additional across the board£2,000 or 10 per cent pay increase, whichever is the greater.
The main issue during the presentation was performance related pay. The NUT had emphasised its opposition to the Government's proposals and had referred to the independent study. This study identified why the government's proposals would fail in schools.
The NUT had also argued that the government's proposals included rationing since only the cost of the threshold was guaranteed. There was no guarantee to fund schools for the cost of post threshold allowances and no funding to provide schools with the funding to meet the salary progression already gained by a person transferring to another school.
The general secretary reported on a significant exchange, with the senior civil servant, responsible for all review bodies. The civil servant suggested that an agreed package might emerge from the government and other parties. The NUT made clear that it would expect to be consulted on any package. Attitudes expressed by other teachers' organisations suggested that the 'other parties' were likely to include headteacher organisations, but might well include ATL and/or NASUWT. Members would be made alert to possible deals and secret talks.
The general secretary reaffirmed that the NUT's position in relation to performance related pay and payment by results remained one of firm opposition.
The campaign against performance related pay would be stepped up during the period up to the end of December. Material was being prepared to assist in lobbying parents, governors, councillors, MPs and AMs locally.
NUT members had been advised to ensure that members of the review body visiting schools were left in no doubt as to the firm opposition of the NUT and of teachers generally to PRP.
Local associations and divisions would be urged to give whatever support was necessary to members at school level in helping them to publicise and express their opposition to PRP.
The general secretary said that unless the government dropped the examples used alongside its performance management framework, some of which were clearly linked to pupil results, the union could not be challenged in its view that the Government intended to reintroduce payment by results.
The NUT would continue to put as much pressure as possible on the government to drop the examples. The union would continue to oppose any link with pay and would challenge the government on the increased workload that would result from the application of performance management.
Chancellor's pre-budget statement
The general secretary reported on the pre-budget statement's implications for education.
The NUT welcomed the extra investment in school buildings, with an additional£150m being granted in the form of PFI credits and an additional£50m for the newdDeal for schools capital programme. The union also welcomed the additional£10m to boost enterprise skills in schools and the£12.5m allocated specifically for childcare for those in further education, which would be of particular assistance to lone parents who find it difficult to go into further education and gain further qualifications.
General Teaching Councils
The general secretary reported that letters had been received from members indicating interest in membership of the general teaching councils for England and for Wales and seeking NUT endorsement. Endorsement of candidates by the union would take into account attitudes towards certain principles, for example the scope of the GTC and the membership fee. On both these issues the NUT had already declared its position.
It was reported that approaches were being made for a teacher associations' slate. The general secretary indicated that the NUT would need to reflect on principles and analyse its options in order to ensure that it best served the interests of NUT members and of teachers as professionals.
It was clarified that candidates who did not receive endorsement, from the panels established to examine applications, would still be able to put themselves forward for membership of the GTCs if they so wished.
Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Grant
The executive unanimously reaffirmed the commitment of the NUT to support specific race equality provision and agreed to continue its high profile campaign to protect and promote such provision.
The executive reaffirmed its deep concern about the disruption caused by changes arising from the introduction and implementation of the ethnic minority achievement grant (formerly Section 11).
John Bromley - National Executive member (Greater Manchester) 1973-74 and 1984-86
The executive stood for a minute's silence as a mark of respect towards John Bromley who died on 25 October following a long illness.