Organising, Pay and Grading in Academies

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
16 February 2016
Carried as Amended

UNISON deplores the government’s policy of turning all schools in England into academies, claiming that this will improve school outcomes. The Education and Adoption Act gives more powers to the Secretary of State for Education to force schools to become academies, particularly those that are defined as ‘coasting schools’.

However evidence shows that just turning schools into academies is ‘not a panacea’ as the independent Commission on Academies pointed out. Data produced by the Local Schools Network has consistently shown that maintained schools perform as well and better when comparing them to similar types of academy. Even the government dominated Parliamentary Education Select Committee (ESC) noted in January 2015 that: ‘Current evidence does not allow us to draw firm conclusions on whether academies are a positive force for change’.

Whilst the majority of schools that initially converted were secondary schools, now it is primarily primary schools that are becoming academies. It has been reported that the government aims to change all schools to academies in England by 2020 and that this will be enabled by a new Education Bill to be put forward in 2016. This would mean over 15,000 schools converting in the next five years. This compares to 3,000 conversions in the last five years and would mean massive structural change.

Conference notes the Alemo-Herron judgement and changes to the TUPE regulations that could enable academies to give notice on TUPE transferred national collective agreements (including the NJC pay agreement) after 12 months. Moves to make all schools in England academies by 2020 can only increase this threat.

UNISON re-affirms its twin track approach to the creation of academies in England. UNISON opposes the conversion of maintained schools, particularly those that are being forced, and will campaign with other unions, parents and communities in local opposition campaigns. UNISON will also seek recognition in schools that do become academies and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) so as to continue to support and defend our members that work in them.

Conference also notes that with the increasing numbers of younger pupils that numbers of support staff in primary schools has been growing and that this presents an organising opportunity for UNISON.

Conference calls on the local government Service Group Executive to:

1)Reinvigorate the national campaign to support branches and regions fighting conversion of maintained schools to academies, working with other unions, parents, communities and other appropriate organisations such as the anti academies alliance, using a range of campaigning strategies;

2)Support branches to ensure that existing academies commit to NJC agreements or previously agreed collective pay, terms and conditions agreements in non NJC authorities;

3)Prepare relevant model agreements, to support branches undertaking negotiations in academies and MATs;

4)Highlight concerns of potential equal pay issues in MATs that have schools spread over a number of local authority areas;

5)Highlight the NJC agreed school role profiles and JE scheme to ensure equal pay in academies and MATs;

6)Campaign for Foundation Living Wage rates to become the new minimum pay point in all academies;

7)Encourage UNISON school reps to take up negotiation skills training, particularly those working in schools that have/are moving to local bargaining;

8)Work with other unions to ensure academies continue to contribute to local authority pooled facility time funds or in academies that will not agree to this ensure UNISON gets a fair share of funds set aside for facility time;

9)Ask the National Schools Committee to review their organising strategy in particular around recruitment and organisation in primary schools;

10)Ensure that school members in Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT) are engaged with their UNISON MAT Forum and seek to set up MAT school Forums where they don’t exist. Also to build membership organisation and engagement in MATs where we have recognition, utilising digital communications and workplace meetings.