Defend Education in Lewisham: Public Meeting 12th November

Lewisham has largely resisted the spread of academies and free schools that has divided education in many other boroughs – until now.

In the last few months, plans for two new ‘free schools’ have been announced in the local press. Governors at Bonus Pastor school are definitely discussing becoming an academy. But that could be just the start. The NUT understands that Governors of several other secondary schools are being asked to discuss plans to become academies too.

The National Union of Teachers is not going to stand back and see Lewisham education torn apart. They are calling a public meeting to bring together parents, staff and students to discuss why we must oppose these plans – and what we can do to defend education in Lewisham:

WEDNESDAY 12 NOVEMBER, 7pm – 9pm in ‘The Barn’ at THE GREEN MAN, 355 Bromley Road, London SE6 2RP
Speakers from Lewisham NUT, the ‘Anti-Academies Alliance’ and the ‘Hands Off Hove Park’ Campaign who have just stopped their school becoming an Academy

When they were first introduced, some parents may have believed the politicians who claimed that academies were the answer. Now, experience confirms that breaking-up Local Authority schooling does not improve education. Instead, it creates a fragmented system where schools are run by unaccountable businesses and individuals, making things even harder for parents, students and staff.

The NUT thinks that the expansion of academies and free schools is part of a wider political agenda to privatise our public services – just like the Health Service. Lewisham residents have successfully rallied to defend our NHS. Now we are going to have to organise to defend education in Lewisham too.

Government cuts mean that Councils are getting rid of many of their services. That could include schools. Growing pupil numbers mean that there is an urgent need to open new schools. But, to force through its privatising plans, this Government says that new schools have to be academies or free schools, run independently of the Local Authority.

The NUT says that Councils should be given the power to open new community schools. They also need the funds and support to make sure that every child has a high quality education in a good local school/

Action Points from the AGM

The branch’s AGM was very well attended, with a healthy debate about how to proceed with the pensions dispute, informed suggestions and a strong will to take action.

The minutes can be read here

Some of the key action points from the meeting:

– Tom Henri, president, said that the proposed changes to the pension scheme represent the single biggest attack on our pay and conditions we’ve yet seen. These changes could mean losses of thousands of pounds for higher education workers. Our guest speaker Simon Renton, the outgoing national president of UCU, made it clear that right now the priority is to get the vote out. We need a vote of yes for strike action and yes for action short of a strike – and we need as high a turn-out as possible. So use your vote, talk to colleagues about the issue and encourage them to use theirs and publicise the dispute in any way you can.

– There were some really strong suggestions about types of action we could take in this dispute – please keep them coming, both to your branch executive committee (via gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk) and to UCU nationally (Simon offered to take suggestions directly at SRenton@ucu.org.uk).

– Des Freedman, secretary, reminded us that our strength as a branch comes with responsibility. We need more reps (and for reps to be more active) and more caseworkers to make sure that we’re effective as well as strong – both in terms of representing individual members and in terms of improving the conditions of all staff. We still have a vacancy for health and safety rep., and our treasurer has asked for someone either willing to take over the role or to share it – so please contact us if you are interested in either position or if you are interested in becoming a caseworker – gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

AGM 2014

This year’s Annual General Meeting takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 8th at 1pm in RHB 342.

Call for exec. nominations is now open – please email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk with any nominations.

The agenda is as follows:

Goldsmiths UCU                                                       Annual General Meeting

8th October, 2014                                                                               RHB 342

 

AGENDA

  1. Reports from the President and Secretary
  2. Election of new representatives
  3. USS Pensions Dispute: guest speaker Simon Renton, UCU President
  4. Anti-Casualisation Campaign
  5. AOB

Notes

  • USS Pensions Dispute

UCU’s ballot on industrial action opened on 1 October and closes at noon on 20 October. If your ballot paper hasn’t arrived you can request one online at http://defenduss.web.ucu.org.uk/. The table below gives a few examples of what the proposed changes could mean:

Mid-career profiles – current and proposed total benefits converted to annual pension
Career profile Current USS final salary section (£) Employers’ proposals (£) Annual loss final salary section members
(£/%)
Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 68 on salary of £45,954 £33,231 £27,978 -£5,253
-15.8%
Age 51, joined scheme at 36, retires at 68, final salary of £45,954 £25,235 £22,299 -£2,936
-11.6%
Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 68 on salary of £54,841 £39,657 £32,316 -£7,341
-18.5%
Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 66 on salary of £75,000 £46,050 £33,604 -£12,446
-27%
New joiner profiles – current and proposed total benefits converted to annual pension
Career profile Current USS career average section (£) Employers’ proposals (£) Annual loss career average scheme members
(£/%)
Age 25, joins now, retires at 68 on salary of £45,954 £26,158 £25,481 -£677
-2.6%
Age 36, joins now, retires at 68 on salary of £45,954 £20,597 £19,800 -£797
-3.9%
Age 25, joins now, retires at 68 on salary of £54,841 £30,007 £28,204 -£1,803
-6.0%
Age 25, joins now, retires at 68 on salary of £75,000 £31,917 £28,389 -£3,528
-11.1%

This will also mean your pension will be worth less than that of someone on the same salary and working in a new university but who is a member of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) rather than USS. Even allowing for higher contribution rates in TPS, the difference is startling. Someone aged 40 with 15 years’ service who retires on £45,954 would have an annual pension worth 56% more in TPS than in USS.

  • Elections:

Executive committee:

President Tom Henri
Secretary Des Freedman
Treasurer Frances Renton
Membership Roger Green
Part-Time/Hourly Paid Rep Jamie Woodcock
Co-Opted Member Ben Levitas
Co-Opted Member Natalie Fenton
Health and Safety Rep Amanda Kipling
Health and Safety Rep Vacancy
Equalities Rep Deirdre Osborne
Environmental Rep Justin Davin-Smith
Learning Rep Mary Claire Halvorson

All departmental reps are also up for re-election. There are currently vacancies in Anthropology, Computing, Design, History, Media & Comms, Marketing and Music.

  • Anti-Casualisation Campaign

UCU have called a national day of action against casualisation on the 5th of November – see http://www.ucu.org.uk/stampout for more information. As well as being a significant national issue, this is important for us as a branch as we need to make sure that the terms of the agreement that the union negotiated for hourly-paid staff is kept to by every department.

For more information about any items, contact Ben Osborn, Branch Administrator, on gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk. Minutes from the meeting will be available at http://goldsmithsucu.wordpress.com/documents/meeting-minutes-and-motions/

poster edited