Chalk Talk: The teachers' protest that may be the shape of things to come
Thursday 16 December 2010
Asign of the times? The National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers is protesting about Britain's biggest head teachers' union's links with a private company providing education services. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, argues that the arrangement between the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Schools Advisory Service could lead to a "conflict of interest".
The firm provides services to schools, including personnel and insurance against staff absence. Some of these, argues the NASUWT, are in competition with our much-maligned local authorities, who are already facing their services being culled.
Ms Keates argues two things. One, if there is a dispute between a school and its staff, the teachers will want to be sure that human resources advice is impartial. Having worked in the private sector for 40 years, while I find that idea laudable, I don't get the argument. Two, as a result of its influence on various national bodies, the NAHT could glean commercial information that would be of use to SAS (the company's unfortunate abbreviation).
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, can't see what the fuss is about. The NAHT has had the agreement with SAS for nine years, using its absence cover insurance, which is not in competition with local authorities, he replies. "Every union has a commercial arm and we've been doing it for a long time without any complaint or conflict of interest," he says.
Interestingly, though, he believes we could see more arrangements of this ilk as local authority budgets dwindle. "With the difficulties local authorities have, our members need to know the quality of service provided by alternative suppliers," he said. "We wouldn't put our name to something that would damage education services in any circumstances."
Even though this arrangement has been uncontroversial for several years, its ilk is a sign of the times. That, in turn, is likely to fuel more opposition from teachers' unions.
* Mike Kent, a primary school head teacher in south London, was baffled by the latest missive from his local authority, listing the public holidays for 2011-12. Christmas Day would be on 26 December, Boxing Day on the 27th and New Year's Day would be celebrated on 2 January.
Kent, a regular contributor to The Times Educational Supplement, immediately asked if the authority had alerted Christians to this major change in the calendar.
It was, of course, an error, but it does raise the question of whether a local authority needs to alert its schools as to when Christmas Day is.
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...