Need to know: Your essential Easter teaching conference catch-up

This weekend the country’s two biggest teaching unions met for their annual conferences, reports Tes.
Here’s what happened. 

The NUT section of the National Education Union met in Brighton for the last ever NUT conference (from next year the NEU will hold a single conference comprising activists from what used to be the NUT and ATL unions, after the two organisations voted to merge last year). The NASUWT union, meanwhile met for its conference in Birmingham.

If you weren’t at either of the conferences (or haven’t been glued to https://www.tes.com/news/school-news and Twitter over the bank holiday), here’s what you need to know.

Teacher mental health was a major theme at the NASUWT conference – a motion on mental health and wellbeing was given top priority by members. The conference heard shocking testimony from one teacher, Claire Taylor, who spoke about how she had been driven to take an overdose at her desk. NASUWT president Dan McCarthy said that schools were risking teacher suicides by using surveillance schemes designed to “crush” staff so that they could save on redundancy costs.

Pupil poverty was a big theme at the NUT conference. A report that the union published jointly with the Child Poverty Action Group on Monday painted a bleak picture of schools giving children food, washing their clothes and offering their families debt advice, and having to prioritise pupils’ basic needs ahead of the school’s performance.

Both unions passed combative motions threatening to walk-out over pay.

On Saturday the NUT conference overwhelmingly backed a call for a ballot on national strike action over teachers’ pay, if the union’s demands are not met. On the same day at the NASUWT conference, delegates voted unanimously in favour of considering the use of rolling industrial action if the government fails to ensure a better pay deal for workers.

However, Ofsted got their say at the NASUWT conference. Appearing at a fringe event, Ofsted’s national director of education, Sean Harford, criticised primary schools for “beasting” pupils in English and Maths in order to prepare them for Sats tests. 

Read much more about the conferences Need to know: Your essential Easter teaching conference catch-up

Will any off these issues ever be resolved? Are you and your colleagues prepared to take strike action? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~Tamsin

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