29 October 2019

H&S Briefing

NEU members in the Northern Region were treated to a twilight ‘health and safety’ taster session at the Centre for Life in Newcastle last week.  A brief introduction to the role of the NEU Health and Safety Rep looked at tackling workload and causes of stress in the workplace.  Excessive workload and working hours are continually cited by teachers as one of the main causes of their workplace stress.  The members attending the session were treated to their tea and cake, which, along with the thought provoking materials, went down very well amongst the group, many of whom have since signed up to take part in the NEU National H&S Training programme.

If you would like information on becoming a workplace H&S Rep, or on the NEU campaign to tackle workload stress, please contact the NEU on northern@neu.org.uk  

28 October 2019

Broad not Bored: Creative Curriculums in Carlisle

On Saturday 16th October a group of enthusiastic new teachers came along to a workshop on delivering the national curriculum creatively. The session began with a huge question: What sort of skills or knowledge should education develop? Once we had a "wish" list of skills and knowledge the group focused on ways in which we can deliver this for our pupils. Suggestions were wide-ranging and went well beyond what can be "tested" including key life skills, emotional development, resilience and even an understanding of how to manage your personal finances.

Approaches that were explored included Mantle of the Expert, Inquiry-based curriculum, Cross Curricular through a topic e.g. Expeditions and a Collaborative curriculum. All of the approaches were scrutinised as there were pros and cons for each of them.

The session came to an end with a broad discussion about how we can bring all of this together to come up with practical things that we can do in our own classroom to broaden the curriculum and how we can make inroads in instilling change on a whole-school level.

Some comments from participants about the training:

"Very informative and thought provoking"
"Lots of practical ideas which can be applied in classrooms"
"I have left with a lot to think about and lots of ideas for moving forward"
"This session has opened up my imagination!"

What do you think? How can we create a broad and engaging curriculum? If you're already doing things share what you're doing in the comments section.

27 October 2019

Schools in the region at breaking point suffering from education cuts

Despite the Prime Minister’s recent boasts of “levelling up” school funding, it’s now clear that for most schools, the future looks bleak.  Louise Moores, an NEU workplace rep and primary school teacher in Middlesbrough, has spoken of her concern for her young pupils.

 “I teach in one of the most deprived areas of the country with the highest levels of English as an Additional Language pupils, mobility and SEND. Yet our vulnerable children have suffered the most from the cuts to school funding and austerity. So many Middlesbrough schools are trying to poverty proof as parents simply can’t afford to subsidise trips or buy equipment and uniform but to do this we’ve had to turn to charities and local organisations to apply for grants.”

Local MP Andy McDonald also shared his concerns with the Middlesbrough Gazette.  Mr McDonald said: "I know that teachers, assistants and support staff do a wonderful job, teaching our young children and inspiring them to learn and grow.  However, they are facing unprecedented financial cuts from this Conservative government, putting them under huge pressure. Almost a decade of chronic underfunding has left our schools at breaking point and teachers leaving the profession due to stress.”  Read the article in full here: https://tinyurl.com/educationcutsteeside

For more information on how school cuts effect your area go to https://schoolcuts.org.uk/

For information on the NEU school funding campaign go to the NEU website: https://neu.org.uk/campaigns/funding

25 October 2019

NEU Teachers share stark and harrowing experiences of children living in poverty

We know that growing child poverty is affecting children’s learning, with school and education staff increasingly providing essentials of daily life to support children’s ability to learn in school. In the constituency of Wansbeck in Northumberland the number of children living in poverty is significantly higher than the national average and is a direct result of austerity. The NEU in collaboration with the MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery, has produced a joint report on Child Poverty and Education in the area.

Many NEU members working in Wansbeck shared their experiences with the Union, painting a stark and disturbing picture about the levels of poverty children are suffering, including children who are clearly suffering from hunger, turning up to school in insufficient clothing (no winter coat or winter shoes in extreme weather) or no suitable PE clothing. Examples of items provided by teachers include food, books, clothing and sanitary products. The scenarios of a mother keeping her child home from school due to the shame of not being able to supply a bucket and spade for a school trip to the beach, and a child wearing her grandmother’s shoes, are particularly upsetting.
Speaking at the launch of the report NEU Regional Secretary Mike McDonald said: It is nothing short of a national disgrace that as one of the wealthiest nations in the world so many of our young people are living in poverty. Across the country a third of children are officially poor but in the North East that figure is significantly higher. Indeed, in parts of Wansbeck constituency it is a staggering 46% and that is why the National Education Union is collaborating with Ian Lavery MP in highlighting the negative impact of poverty on the educational experience and attainment of our children.

Some of the testimonies from our members make for sobering reading but despite the shocking nature of what has been revealed in this report, perhaps the saddest thing is that the results do not surprise us. If we are indeed the fifth richest country in the world, how can it be that children in areas such as Wansbeck are suffering from such levels of poverty? The impact this has on their learning is immense, as proven by our survey results which indicate that behavioural issues, concentration issues and attendance problems are all commonplace in the community. This is a cycle we must break.”

Read more about the findings of the Wansbeck Child Poverty Report, or if you would like to share your own experiences and concerns about child poverty in your school contact northern@neu.org.uk