What CoSLA think about the last ‘deal’ and what they’ve told McCormac

If you select the attached and paste it into your browser, it will take you to the cached Google docs version of what CoSLA thinks of the EIS cave-in-causing ‘deal’ as well as their response to McCormac.

Let there be no doubt that the cuts already made are but the beginning.


Opposing Pension Cuts

Remarks to SSTA Congress, moving Emergency Motion on Cuts to Teachers’ Pensions:

“The SSTA believes that the most recent reforms to the UK Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme resulted in a scheme which is sustainable, actuarially secure and represents good value for the UK tax payer. The Association will resist by all legal means, any further changes to the scheme which are not supported by an independent actuarial valuation.”

I’m moving Emergency Motion 2 on behalf of Salaries Committee the Convener of which enjoys the confidence of this association.
I move this emergency motion because the attack on our pensions and those of the wider public sector are becoming an emergency – they must be opposed and they must be defeated.
As detailed previously, the Hutton report published in March proposed sweeping changes to the pension arrangements for every public sector worker in the UK. 
As Congress knows the Hutton Inquiry was set-up in response to an apparent pensions crisis.
The so-called pensions crisis is only a crisis for the millions of public sector workers who are going to see contributions rise, whilst they have to work longer and at the end of it all receive only a fraction of what they would otherwise have done.
It is a scandal that will affect many in later years – but which has to be challenged now.
The government has still to publish its response to the findings of Lord Hutton, but let them be clear.
We will oppose any detrimental changes to our pensions schemes that cannot be proven to be actuarially justified.
What do we face after a lifetime at the chalk face? A gold plated retirement?
It’s poorer pay now and a poorer pension later.
Government proposals would see a pension payment increase of 45% at least
Not being able to claim it until you are 65 or older.
Having a pension based not on final salary – but career average.
Congress, the public sector pensions scheme has already been reformed in recent years, it is achieving targets in cost savings.
These new changes represent nothing other than a theft from and of our deferred wages.
On their own, the changes pose a risk to the very existence of the scheme as people are given a huge incentive to opt out.
When added to a pay freeze and cost of living increases any large hike in contributions will make many younger teachers – the group least likely to pay attention to discussion on their pensions, more likely to withdraw from the scheme.
And no wonder – what an opportunity cost: hiked-up pension payments now;
or more pressing bills like student loans – or in saving up the huge deposit needed for a house these days.
The campaign to prevent this theft is continuing but we face the challenge, as we know of the propaganda of the private sector – who target the public sector pension in order to evade attention being focussed upon the often-scandalous pension arrangements for their workers.
The way forward is not further reform aimed at slashing the benefits of a pension that people pay for themselves  – a pension scheme that is already sustainable, already secure, and already good value. The way forward is to ensure that any changes are supported by independent actuarial evaluation and offer an appropriate reward in retirement.
Congress, be very clear.
When we say we will oppose these changes we mean it.
This association will never, ever, ever raise a placard with one hand and a white flag with the other.
The Government seems set to betray public sector workers.
But we will never betray our members.
We will defend our members because that is what this association exists to do. 
On this matter, like the cuts being brought about by CoSLA and the Scottish Government. this association should, must and will defend its members by any means necessary.
Please support the motion.

Teacher Working Conditions are Student Learning Conditions

Address to SSTA Congress in moving the following Motion:

“The SSTA is committed to the highest possible quality of education for our young people. This Association believes that the way to achieve this aim is to invest in the teaching profession and its development not through the erosion of teachers’ conditions of service, the casualisation of the teacher workforce, or the devolving of further staffing matters to headteachers.

Congress totally rejects any proposals to save money by means of changes to teachers’ conditions of service believing that these will be detrimental to the education of young people.”

Congress we meet at a time when Scottish education stands at a crossroads.
On the one hand a route to improvement that invests in teachers and their development and thus invests in the education of our young people.
On the other – a race to so-called efficiency, pre-occupied by saving money.
When we hear of ‘improvement’ in education – all too-often it’s based upon every dodgy dossier and flawed analysis that can be found. So what’s the alternative.
In 2002 in North Carolina the then Governor Mike Easley started the Teacher Working Conditions Initiative – a systematic study of teacher working conditions through asking the people that matter – teachers. 
The survey itself covers issues such as time to work with colleagues in improving learning and teaching, the degree to which teachers feel empowered, the quality of professional development and of course, the efficacy of school leadership.
As Governor Easley said:
“Armed with this data, North Carolina will better meet the needs of teachers and in turn, our students, because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.”
Because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.
Research based-upon the survey concluded:
‘To do their best work with students, teachers need supportive working conditions that provide the best opportunities to be effective. Creating positive work environments for teachers in every school…is an essential element to creating the learning environments that will maximize student success.”
Because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.
That truism was stated in SSTA HQ recently, by non-other than Graham Donaldson.
Indeed, in his report Teaching Scotland’s Future, recommendation number 1 is:
Education policy in Scotland should give the highest priority to further strengthening the quality of its teachers and of its educational leadership.
The report goes on to propose a whole series of improvements to initial teacher education, as well as support for high quality CPD – career-long in order that the profession meets the challenges that lie ahead.
The report was welcomed, endorsed and accepted almost in its entirety by the Scottish Government –
Congress, accepting the report is one thing, implementing it is quite another – as this is the same Scottish Government that has put cuts in teacher’s conditions at the forefront of education policy.
Donaldson gives us hope – CoSLA and the government make us depair.
I mean, why have the best training in the world if it’s wasted as we move from pillar to post covering classes for absent colleagues because the two-tier workforce has left for better paid alternatives?
Why develop the capacity of our staff if, instead of spending time planning better outcomes for pupils, time is spent covering classes brought about by a failure to fill a vacancy?
Why invest in masters level training to have a teacher waste time inputting data into e-assessments systems, or tracking systems that measure nothing other than which staff have inputted which data?
With these cuts the price that will be paid will be the collapse of teacher morale and with it, the quality of education for our young people…
Because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.
Many councils are now stripping out functions previously provided centrally, and replacing them with outsourcing or simply putting them at the door of schools.
We’re still waiting on Annex E of the McCrone agreement 10 years on, and yet, councils want to go full steam ahead putting more pressure on existing or less admin staff with the inevitable result that teachers will spend more time not less on admin.
Another mantra is the idea of devolving everything but the kitchen sink to schools and headteachers.
Now, I thought that HTs were like us, worried about information and initiative overload – are we going to add further to the demands upon them? A HT I know, spent an entire Saturday afternoon writing reports on PSA staff as part of a local authority review on their posts. Is this the best use of a HT? I shudder to think what the impact on them – or us would be of devolving further staffing matters.
But just as HTs might fear being devolved an ever-increasing bureaucracy as they lack the skills to cope – far less prosper. We fear HTs having greater powers – as they lack the skills to cope, far less prosper.
Let there be no doubt, the desire to devolve may, despite its best intention end up having little to do with improving the educational outcomes for schools or the pupils they serve. It may even be used to attack collective bargaining.
For councils, it’s efficiency: making more out of staff for less. Or simply, to have less staff.
For us, we know in these cuts to conservation, cuts to maternity leave and the creation of a two-tier supply system, that if you tolerate this, your conditions will be next.
We know that what affects some staff ends up affecting us all – but in our rejection of the CoSLA proposals we have a clear understanding that each cut, each erosion of our conditions has a damaging impact on the education of our pupils.
Because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.
In recent times, the benefits to the profession brought about by McCrone have been called into question, and some seem to think that the professional freedom we enjoy is somehow unprofessional – because it cannot be monitored.
The TESS recently reported that in their submission to McCormac, SLS and AHDS: “wants to see the removal of teachers’ right to spend non class-contact time at a time and place of their choosing…”
“it also wants reduced class contact time to be quality assured to demonstrate its impact.”
Quality Assured to demonstrate its impact?
How about quality assuring the cuts to our conditions?
How about quality assuring the theft of our pensions?
How about quality assuring the impact of violence or abuse at work – when the school leadership turns a blind-eye?
How about quality assuring the creation of a two-tier workforce?
Or, how about quality assuring the impact on a school, its staff and its pupils of a hapless headteacher? SQ-Hed up to the eyeballs yet without the basics in collegiality or common sense.
The changes we see coming are but the thin-end of the wedge.
The management goal is clear:
we cut, you complain,
we fail, you get the blame.
Be an empowered professional – where you are free to do as we tell you.
Congress another way is possible. Another way is essential. There is an alternative. It is to invest in teachers and their conditions and this association will fight for that alternative:
Because teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.
Please support the motion.