The mood of NEU Conference this year was serious and recognised the challenges education faces under the Tories. It also took notice of the opportunities that were beginning to open up. Almost all the debates today looked at how we can prepare the membership for the campaigns that we will have to develop and how we can draw the membership into these campaigns. After a rousing speech from the President, Daniel Kebode, which centred on the way that poverty effects all aspects of life, the first debate was on Ofsted. The overwhelming view was that Ofsted had to go. After 30 years Ofsted could not show that it had improved education at all! Conference agreed to produce an alternative to Ofsted and to challenge the “research reviews” that Ofsted has produced during the pandemic. Conference also voted for a curriculum review in England, similar the that recently completed in Wales and entitles ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities Contributions and Cynefin Framework in the New Curriculum Working Group’
On pay the Conference committed the union to a campaign to get back to free collective bargaining rather than the ‘independent’ review body teachers have at present. Conference also endorsed an indicative ballot in the Autumn if no progress was made on pay. Conference also overwhelmingly carried a motion on Anti-racism which committed the Union to continue to campaign on decolonising the curriculum, campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill as well as for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers to enter this country and integrate into society. A motion on ‘Windrush the forgotten workers’ was also passed unanimously which made clear our solidarity with the Windrush generation and the need to redress the injustices they have suffered. Conference also passed a motion on Children’s Rights and Police in Schools following on from the Child Q case. The mood of conference seemed to be to support the exclusion of police from schools although that wasn’t specifically stated in the amended motion.
On Climate Change the successful motion committed the union to campaign to end the use of fossil fuels, to campaign for a new legislative framework for transition, giving duties to employers and rights to workers and to oppose the growth of nuclear power and to call for a just transition based on the use of renewable energy.
Conference also agreed to take an emergency motion on the War in Ukraine tomorrow.
Overall, a good day of debate which has allowed the delegates to seriously assess some of the problems education faces and to start to develop strategies to address them.
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