News

ECSG updates from the frontline: July, 2022

27 July 2022

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

Daniel Maney – Wales

The Welsh Government has published a new school improvement framework details can be found here. National Categorisation will finish and be replaced by a self-evaluation system. Parents will now be able to access more up-to-date, detailed and informative information via this system.

The Tertiary Education and Research (TER) Bill passed the Senedd on the 28th June 2022. The main function of this Bill is to bring all post-16 education together. Wales will be only UK nation to have colleges, universities, apprenticeships, sixth forms and adult education managed as a single system following the establishment of the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research.

Stuart Anderson – Scotland, North and Midlands

I recently represented a member at a Mullti-Academy Trust in a disciplinary matter. This was a relatively small Trust with between five and 10 primary schools spread over fairly close geographical area. The member worked across all schools but was generally based at the largest.

The allegations against the member were initially described as a breach of confidentiality and bringing the employer into disrepute. During an investigation interview, conducted by another head from the academy chain without HR support, it became clear that the headteacher at the school in which the member was based had accused them of sharing details about a teacher’s personal life with parents.

Outside of the allegation from the headteacher there was no evidence provided to support the claim and there did not seem to be a formal complaint from any teacher or parents.

The member however suspected that the allegation had some personal motivation as they had had to challenge the headteacher on several issues in the past, and they had not always responded professionally.

Due to the lack of evidence, I did not expect the investigation to proceed to a disciplinary hearing, and in a local authority or a better managed MAT it would not have done, however the member was invited to a formal disciplinary hearing.

In the lead-up to the hearing, no further evidence, or event outline of the case against the member was shared despite having been asked on several occasions.

On the morning of the disciplinary meeting, again, chaired by another headteacher from the MAT, I asked to speak privately with the HR support that the MAT had bought in from an outside consultancy.

I argued that either a proper investigation had not be completed, or that evidence had not been correctly shared with the member, both of which I said would be in breach of the ACAS code of practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

After a series of back-and-forth conversations and sometime waiting, we were informed that the MAT were not going to proceed with the hearing as there was no case to answer.

This was of course a good outcome for the member, but it should not have taken until the day of the hearing for this decision to be made and caused undue stress throughout the process.

In my experience, some MATs do have robust HR practices, though this is not the case across the board, and employees should always seek trade union advice.

In this case both the member and I believe that had it not been for Prospect’s intervention the hearing would have gone ahead and he would have faced a sanction.

The member in this case was grateful to have representation from a full-time official of Prospect and that Prospect does not represent teachers or support staff at the chain, and particularly that they were not in the same union as the headteachers both accusing and investigating him.

Claire Dent – London, South East, South West and South

Devon CC

Babcock Learning Development Partnership (LDP) have consulted unions on the transfer of all their employees to Devon CC. This currently affects 249 staff and will take place with effect from the 1 August 2022.

This transfer is being handled in accordance with the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) and therefore all directly employed staff will transfer on their current terms and conditions. There are certain changes (measures) which unions have been informed on, including loss of medical and life insurance cover, loss of car allowance although those staff eligible for Essential User status will be paid £37.75 per month.

There will also be changes for staff who currently belong to the Babcock pension scheme who will automatically transfer to the Local Government Pension Scheme for which they are eligible. There are still conversations taking place around work bases but the intention is that all staff will be assigned an office base.

I have spoken to several members who queried the working base and car allowance and it appears their queries have now been resolved.

If you have been directly affected by this and have a question please get in touch with my Doncaster office and I will advise accordingly.

Hampshire

As with many joint management/union meetings I have attended recently there has been on-going conversations about how the employer can support staff who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Suggestions made on behalf of the joint unions include allowing home working to reduce travel costs for those who are able and their role allows. We have also asked for pressure to be brought in relation to HMRC mileage rates which have not increased despite the increase in fuel costs.

Hertfordshire

Positive changes to Soulbury staff terms and conditions in relation to sick pay and redundancy payments has been consulted on and agreed by all affected unions. Any backdated pay should have now been paid to those affected but do get in touch if you are affected by these changes and have any questions.

Herts for Learning (HfL)

The joint unions are still awaiting a decision regarding our request for HfL to recognise these unions for all staff, not just those staff that TUPE’d over a number of years ago. We have made this request annually without success so far but are hopeful that with a change in HR this may eventually be seriously considered.

Personal Cases

I have the usual personal cases which involve members feeling stress and anxiety due to workload pressures. My advice in these instances is always to try to resolve the situation early by informing the line manager in writing of your concerns and asking for support.

Once you have detailed the issues, the employer has a duty of care to take steps to protect your health and wellbeing. It may be difficult to admit that you are struggling but until you do you cannot expect the employer to do anything about it.

Recruitment

Again I would ask for your help. If you work for a local authority or MAT and would like to get more involved in the work Prospect do please get in touch.

I have been working closely with my organising colleague to identify areas where we don’t currently hold formal recognition but where the organisation works well with Prospect and shares information consistently.

We are currently looking at Bexley, Bedford, Oxford, Croydon, Wiltshire, Ealing, Hertford and Extend Learning and Bath and Wells MAT so if you work in these areas and would be prepared to help achieve this by becoming more involved with Prospect please contact Danajoti Cait Hughes [email protected] directly and she can talk to you about what this would involve.

Angela Moffatt – Northern Ireland

Soulbury pay

Pay scales have still not been updated in NI and we are now taking up why there is an annual lag in application to NI, even when pay uplift are known. We’ll be asking EA why this is happening, and that in future changes are made to ensure pay increases are paid promptly.

Related to this we will be asking EA to review the scale points applicable to roles, and the process of review to ensure NI roles are weighted and paid correctly. Lastly, we’ll be asking EA to confirm SPA points are being paid correctly, after the work we undertook to rectify this to ensure members receive payment and back pay, an ongoing check. We’d remind all members to review whether they can apply for these.

EA Landscape Review

After inputting to this process, the report has been published. We’re reviewing this but we are seeking to know when and how the Department of Education will be inviting responses to it, and what their strategy with timescales is moving forward.

We’d remind members to email [email protected] and/or [email protected] with their views, to help inform the response we make on your behalf.

Prospect Conference

Glenn Walsh attended the recent Prospect conference on behalf of NI members and it as extremely useful as a means of linking up with UK colleagues, and providing an insight into how we compare here, and what actions we need to take. Glenn is also continuing to attend the GEC on behalf of members and input NI views/experience there.

Recruitment – our numbers remain steady but we are always seeking new recruits! Please encourage a colleague to join – www.prospect.org.uk/joinus


Education and children's services

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