News

ECSG updates from the frontline: May 2022

9 May 2022

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

Work meeting

Daniel Maney – Wales

We are currently engaged in the review of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) SPA policy through the CSC union representative forums. We have fed comments back into the review process around the qualifying periods, portability and the administrative burden of the whole process.  The final draft is currently being prepared and will be presented to the unions soon.

If other members have issues with SPA points please speak to your union officer – this is an area we want to focus on with the LGA in 2022.

We have also fed into the review around RCT Hybrid Flexi-Time Working Policy which has now concluded and a final version has been provided to the unions.

Finally, the education minister in Wales, Jeremy Miles MS, announced that the final restrictions around face masks in schools are withdrawn from Monday, 9 May. As part of the return  to normal schooling, parents will be fined for taking their children out of school without authorisation.

Stuart Anderson – Scotland, North and Midlands

Work in my area, continues to be supporting individuals with issues often stemming from workload issues and a lack of support and resources for the work our members do.

There have been some more collective issues including job evaluation process at one local authority. The main issue in this case has been recognition that the level of pay for many of our member in ECS reflects their skills and expertise rather than the number of people they manage or budgets they control.

This is a well-established principle for those on Soulbury terms and conditions, however, where the Soulbury scale has been removed from a pay structure or where staff have been employed on different terms from the outset things are a little more difficult.

In this case we have been able argue that specialist roles should sit outside the proposed job evaluation process and be considered separately.

TUPE transfer

I have also recently support members with a TUPE transfer followed by a restructure. TUPE, or Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment regulation, protects employee’s terms and conditions when an organisation or service transfers from one employer to another.

In this case involving staff transferring from one SEND charitable trust to another; some staff had terms protected from several historic transfers including favourable redundancy terms. This was important because following the transfer the new employer has started consultation on possible redundancies.

Some people believe that TUPE regulations protect employees against redundancy or other contracted changes, however this is not always the case. An employer can make redundancies related to the transfer if  there is both an ‘economic, technical or organisational’ (ETO) reason involving a change in the workforce and genuine redundancy situation.

In this case a change to funding arrangements is a valid ETO and there seems to be an argument for redundancy being needed that we are currently exploring though the proper consultation. These are complex matters and if you are faced with either a TUPE transfer, a redundancy situation or both at the same time, please contact Prospect for advice at the earliest possible stage.

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

Hertfordshire

The Music Service in Hertfordshire are currently consulting on a restructure which will result in redundancies. There only appears to be two roles at risk, although the roles of other staff will increase responsibilities with no increase in pay. If you are affected by this and have not yet contacted me, please get in touch.

Herts for Learning (HfL)

The joint education unions have recently been in negotiation with HfL on the annual Cost of Living pay increase. We lodged a 6.5% pay claim but after much discussions was rejected by management. Their counter-offer of 3% COL rise, together with an assurance that the annual bonus would be between 5% – 6% was accepted by the membership.

Despite it not being part of the negotiation we again asked management to consider granting union recognition for all staff, as opposed to those who TUPE’d over from Hertfordshire a number of years ago. This request has always been strenuously denied in past years. However, the new HR Lead has agreed to take this to the Board to be considered.

Dorset

Dorset are finalising their Menopause policy and putting into place training sessions for managers. They are also finalising the logistics of supplying period products throughout the sites in line with their Period Poverty work.

West Sussex

The Education and Skills service went through a restructure consultation in March, which affected one member as far as I was aware. The Authority were loathe to consult with Prospect but once they were reminded of their obligations to consult with all unions where staff are affected they did share information.

Personal Cases

I have a few personal cases with ECS. These range from problems with getting reasonable adjustments for a member who has a disability and wishes to reduce her hours going forward and others revolve around stress within the workplace.

Two of my cases are for very senior staff who are being subjected to adverse comments from political opponents to the Local Authority. It is important to remind members that their employer has a Duty of Care to take reasonable steps to protect their staff from both mental and physical harm whilst carrying out their work under Health and Safety legislation.

Another case is a senior leader in Education Services who feels the workload pressure is untenable. She fears this will only increase due to cuts in staffing levels which will result from the government white paper.

Recruitment

I have been working closely with my organising colleague Honour Bayes to identify Local Authorities 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 and Hertford so if you work in these areas and would be prepared help achieve this by becoming more involved with Prospect please contact [email protected] directly and she can talk to you about what this would involve.

Angela Moffatt – Northern Ireland

Glenn Walsh, EA representative has been attending meeting of the Directorate Joint Forums, as well as Sector executive meetings within Prospect.  Within the latter forums, discussion has centred on pay – and in particular on Soulbury pay/SPA points development and improvement.

We were invited to attend a meeting with other trade unions on the development of the EA People Plan for the next five years – this provided us with a chance to offer input on how we’d like engagement to happen after the planned staff survey (due to launch in October 2022), and ensure there is a more inclusive approach towards employees and their union representatives.

We’d like you input on this – we have tried to relay what members have been telling us but we are always after more feedback from members so we can ensure we represent all our members views and feelings.

As an update re: the Landscape Review, we are aware there is a draft report – but we’re awaiting updates.  We’ll let you know more once we know where this is going.

We also continue to deal with cases and queries on behalf of members – we’d advise you to contact Glenn in the first instance if you have an issue – and at an early stage.  The earlier we know of issues, the best chance we have of helping you resolve matters.  So please contact us at any point if you need assistance or advice.

As ever, if you have a colleague, please try to encourage them to join Prospect.  If you’re interested in having an event at your location, please let us know too and we can deliver this.

Contacts

  • Prospect EA rep – Glenn Walsh – contact [email protected]
  • NI Office – Claire Dummigan, Executive Assistant and Angela Moffatt, Negotiations Officer – [email protected]

Education and children's services

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