News

ECSG updates from the frontline: April 2021

28 April 2021

Prospect’s full-time officers for the Education and Children’s Services Group give their updates from the last few months.

Daniel Maney – Wales

As we are now in purdah before the elections on May 6th there isn’t very much policy work going on right now though obviously all parties are campaigning and each of the main parties has set out their stall on education.

This is the first election in which 16 and 17 years olds are eligible to vote which may be why tuition fees has come up a fair bit in the election campaign, each parties higher education polices can be found here .

We do know that Kirsty Williams (LD) will not be education secretary going forward as she is stepping down from the Senedd, her successor will obviously depend on the results of the election.

Outside of the election schools returned fully form the 12th April across Wales and the report Skills for the future (What the Future Generations Report 2020 means for Welsh Government Education- Schools Directorate) was published.

Stuart Anderson – Scotland, North and Midlands

Recent months continue to be fairly quiet in terms of industrial relations issues facing ESC members in my area.  However, there are a number of areas that might be of interest.

Calderdale Schools, particularly more rural primaries, have recently raise concerns in relation to their budgetary position. They are concerned about the impact this might have on school-based staff, however this may have an impact on buy back of traded services.

In Rotherham there will be a small restructure of the Access to Education team.  Informal consultation has taken place with one of our members whose primary role is in elective home education. Their proposal included significant changes to this role and a proposed replacement role will no longer be Soulbury Graded.

In Gateshead an issue where Soulbury officers were being allowed one annual leave day fewer than colleagues on local government NJC terms was recently resolved at the Soulbury committee.

Claire Dent – London, South East and South

All areas of education continue to be affected by the current Covid-19 crisis. With schools now back it is hoped that services such as The Music Services and others may restart. However, this is of course dependant on the progress of the government’s roadmap.

Hertfordshire

As previously reported, Hertfordshire has now introduced an invigorated staff consultation forum and this is working well. As part of this I have been informed that they are currently reviewing their Performance Management process and will of course consult with Prospect if Soulbury staff are affected by any of these proposed changes.

Enfield

Enfield are currently consulting on a restructure of their SEYIS (Schools and Early Years Improvement Service). This impacts on Prospect members delivering School Improvement services into schools. The review is in part a result of removal of £204,000 by The Schools Forum which has resulted in a substantial budget shortfall. Head teachers have also requested a different model of provision.

Initially Prospect was not made aware of this consultation, despite holding recognition for Soulbury employees. I have now been reassured that my members’ concerns will be considered although it is not clear whether that is actually taking place. I have challenged the local authority on several issues but have not received timely responses. The consultation was due to end on the 26 April and obviously I will continue to press for the required answers.

Essex

Essex are undergoing a series of restructures in Adult Social Care and Business Services. No Prospect members are directly affected by these restructures but I am aware that changes to these services may impact on other services my members deliver so I am holding a watching brief on this.

Personal cases

I have a few personal cases involving ECS members.

A member has made a complaint to the Pension Ombudsman concerning the mis-administration of their pension. The pension administrator failed to produce timely pension statement and this has resulted in an unexpected tax bill for the member. The Ombudsman’s decision is final and can only be challenged on a point of law. I would always encourage members to contact Prospect at the earliest stage if you have concerns about how your pension is being administered. This will allow Prospect to advise on drafting the actual complaint.

A member has applied for Ill-Health Retirement (IHR) after the local authority moved to dismiss her under Capability. She is very unwell and has had a significant period of absence but her illness is thankfully not terminal. However, because she is so unwell she has struggled to agree to this process or indeed give her informed consent. Her employer has tried to be as supportive as possible but it highlights the importance of having a Power of Attorney (POA) in place so relatives can make decisions for her.

Chris Manning – South and South West

After seven years with Prospect, and nearly four years of working with the Education & Children’s Services Group, I will be leaving Prospect at the end of June. Thankfully, things in the South and South West regions continue to be fairly quiet so it will be a peaceful end to a very interesting and rewarding period in my working life.

When I started covering members in the ECS Group I had never worked with Local Authority employers and knew nothing about Soulbury terms and conditions. It was a very steep learning curve but I am pleased to say that I came to thoroughly enjoy the work and felt privileged to work with such an amazing group of dedicated and hardworking members.

I think that I managed to get some very good outcomes for a lot of the individuals and groups I represented and I must say that ECS members are probably the politest and most appreciative group of members that I have had the pleasure of supporting.

Of course, the support you receive from Prospect will not change and I am certain that my successor will continue to forge positive relationships with you all, as well as with your employers and representatives of sister unions.

My best wishes go out to everyone in ECS Group. Keep safe as we work through the Covid pandemic, recommend Prospect to your colleagues, and most importantly, please don’t hesitate to contact Prospect (wakefield@prospect.org.uk) if you need any workplace advice or support.

Angela Moffatt – Northern Ireland

Things continue to be busy at the Education Authority Northern Ireland branch, with a range of meetings undertaken by the representative Glenn Walsh and myself.

We are dealing with a range of personal cases and queries for individual members, and also progressing groups’ issues relating to pay for certain groups.  Work is hindered by the arrangements for the pandemic, but we are hoping as things normalise to progress through issues more easily.   As ever, we’d encourage members to contact Glenn with any issues at an early stage for any help or advice.


Education and children's services

Prospect represents nearly 3,000 professionals in education, children's services, early years, commissioning and children's social care.