Friday, 29 July 2016

Michaela Secondary Free School punishes children for having hard-up parents

Friday, 29 July 2016

Michaela Secondary Free School punishes children for having hard-up parents

I suspect not many of my readers also read the Daily Mail so here is a brief summary of an on-line story carried by the Mail LINK.

Katharine Birbalsingh who hit the headlines when she became Michael Gove's darling after she told a Tory Conference that the education system was broken based on her experience at a London secondary school, is head of Michaela Secondary Free School in Wembley Park.  The school advertises its strict discipline policy and 'private school ethos' and has a laudatory comment from Boris Johnson hanging on its exterior.

The Mail story is not about the school's strict umbrella code (black or navy blue only) or its service to parents whereby they can text pictures of school shoes they are about to buy for approval LINK, but about its attitude towards the children of hard-up families.

The Mail reveals that children whose parents are behind with meal payments are put in lunch isolation, being made to sit on their own for the whole lunch hour, and are given a sandwich instead of a hot meal with dessert.

The Mail quotes a letter from the deputy headteacher, Barry Smith, to unemployed care worker Dionne Kelly. Dione had paid by the time she received the letter but her child was punished anyway:
The deadline for this term's lunch payment was 1st June 2016. You are currently £75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed into Lunch isolation.

They will receive a sandwich and a piece of fruit only. Only when the outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed to eat lunch with their classmates.
Birbalsingh told the Mail that the letter was sent in an attempt to encourage the parent to change her ways and support her son by paying for his food.

Sam Royston of the Children's Society said, 'No school should punish and potentially stigmatise a child because a parent has not paid for, or is unable to afford, school meals.'

Monday, 11 July 2016

SERTUC activities and news

Burston Strike School Rally

Sunday 4 September with Mick Whelan ASLEF, TUC President Liz Snape, Attila the Stockbroker, Steve White and the Protest Family, NASUWT Brass Band, Red Flag, Grace Petrie, Banner Theatre 1st May Band and John McDonnell MP Shadow Chancellor

SERTUC Education courses from September 2016

Trade union actions

Fire Brigades Union video on cuts

Unite Community Southampton

LeftFest Saturday 23 July 11am A celebration of local left and progressive activism

Unite Bromley march to save our services

Saturday 23 July 11am contact 07771 818 637


TUC national action plan after the European Referendum

Petition your MP on workers’ rights

Midland Region TUC demo

Demonstration at the Conservative Party conference Sunday 2 October, Birmingham with Dave Prentis Unison, Tom Roache GMB, Owen Jones writer

Trades Council actions

Lambeth at the Lambeth Country Show

16 and 17 July Lambeth trades council will be having their usual trades union marquee. Included are the Lambeth & Wandsworth Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Greenwich and Bexley street stall

Saturday 23 July at Charlton Community Day contact

West Surrey trades council

Next meeting Thursday 14 July 6.30pm

Battersea & Wandsworth celebration

·         John Burns’ Battersea Saturday 23 July 4pm
·         No to the vanity bridge! Public meeting Tuesday 26 July 7pm

Barking, Dagenham and Havering is going to Tolpuddle

Free coach leaving Dagenham at 7.45am on Sunday 17 July, leaving Tolpuddle at 5.45pm. £5 returnable deposit will be returned on the coach. Contact

Brent commemorates Grunwick 40

It’s 40 years since the Grunwick strike

Thanet trades council meeting

Next meeting Wednesday 20 July 7.30pm Broadstairs

GLATUC briefing

All London trades council officers and delegates welcome Tuesday 19 July 7pm contact

Other actions/events

Morning Star @ 50 celebration

Saturday 23 July 12.30pm till late. Free. Marx Memorial Library

NPC conference and lobby

·         Conference The future of public transport Thursday 22 September 11am London. £5 including lunch
·         Lobby of parliament Wednesday 2 November 12 noon plus rally in parliament

Norwich Pride Saturday 30 July

Day of Action against Personal Independence Payments

Wednesday 13 July Ipswich action 11.30am

Grunwick film Wednesday 20 July

Film, panel discussion, social £5/£3

Hackney Unites #moreincommon

Palestine Youth Orchestra UK tour

Royal Festival Hall London Monday 1 August 7.30pm

Redbridge Forest Farm Peace Garden

Sunday 10 July World Music Day, free and family friendly, 12 noon to 5pm

Cuba Solidarity Campaign

CND Stop Trident lobby Wednesday 13 July

·         12 noon onwards
·         publication Trident and jobs

Thanet Labour Councillors public meeting

On WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality Saturday 9 July Ramsgate, more info

Tolpuddle Festival

15 to 17 July 2016 the annual event commemorating the contribution of the Tolpuddle Martyrs

Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

Saturday 13 August 7pm at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield. Lecture by Ruth Taillon “Socialism, Feminism and the Women of 1916”

Marx Memorial Library events

·         NOW: Exhibition: Socialist Opposition to World War 1 will be at Congress House 25 June to 11 July
·         17-30 October Remembering the International Brigades, two week festival
·         Appeal for a plans chest for posters
·         Socialist Opposition to World War One exhibition At Congress House 25 June to 11 July

Send a piano to Cuba

Ada Salter Day

Friday 15 and Saturday 16 July Many events to celebrate this outstanding campaigner. Bermondsey

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

protest rally outside London Met on Holloway Road this coming Wednesday 13th July at 1pm.

London Met Update and meeting point for 16th July
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The UCU London Retired members banner will be at the protest rally outside London Met on Holloway Road this coming Wednesday 13th July at 1pm.

I also neglected to put the text of the Open Letter to the Times Higher Education in the last email. I enclose it below.
Please contact London Met UCU at asap with your name, institution & position, and email address if you would be willing to be included as a signatory.

Saturday 16 July 2016 demonstration No More Austerity - No To Racism

If you wish to march with the branch banner, meet at 12:20 outside Oxford Circus Station - junction of Argyll Street and Oxford Street
Contact phone on the day - 07875791513

Open Letter to The Times Higher Education
The compulsory redundancies of two leading UCU representatives at London Metropolitan University, David Hardman and Mark Campbell, is a travesty of justice. Their appeals were declined this week. The very least that one might expect of an appeal hearing is that there is an audit trail of the decision making involved, especially at an institution whose strategic plan claims to value ‘openness’. No audit trail of the decisions involved was presented at their appeal hearing; in fact, the Dean of their faculty - Prof. Dominic Palmer-Brown - did not submit any documentation at all.

Mark and David are the only compulsory redundancies arising out of the cuts announced by London Met last autumn. We believe that they have been singled out because of their effective work as UCU representatives. With another 395 job losses now in the pipeline, as well as potential privatisation (the new Chair of Governors is a former executive at Pearsons), the management are conveniently removing the two leading reps and sending a clear message to other staff not to put their heads above the parapet.

Does a university with a background as a champion of social justice really wish to stake a claim as one of the most anti-union employers in the sector? The Deputy Vice-Chancellor who chaired the appeal panels left for his summer holiday immediately after notifying David and Mark of the outcome. By contrast, David and Mark will be working until their final day of employment in order to continue their work as lecturers and to represent colleagues during the latest onslaught against jobs.

We call upon the management and Governors of London Met to recognise the injustice that is being perpetrated and to reinstate Mark Campbell and David Hardman.

Copyright © 2016 UCU London Retired Members Branch, All rights reserved.
UCU London Retired Members Branch - members and supporters 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Victimisation at London Metropolitan University

A letter from the UCU Chair and Secretary at London Metropolitan University

Times Higher Education letter - please add your name before Monday 9am deadline

We sadly have to report to colleagues that we (David Hardman and Mark Campbell) have been unsuccessful in our appeals against redundancy from our positions at London Metropolitan University. As you may know, we are the two UCU negotiators for UCU at London Met, being the branch secretary and chair, respectively. David is also the Secretary of UCU London Region and Mark is the Chair of the UCU London Region HE Committee.

Management served us notice of redundancy in May, following a process that failed to meet the most basic requirements of transparency. At our appeal hearings the Dean of our faculty did not submit any written information. There is literally no audit trail for the decision making process involved in our redundancies. The letters confirming our redundancies do not attempt to address many of the key points we raised in our arguments.

We firmly believe that our removal is because of our activities as trade unionists. If the management are allowed to get away with this, it will act as a deterrent to other members coming forward as union representatives. With London Met poised to potentially be the first university in the UK to be privatised, it would be very convenient for management to have us out of the way and not making waves. This should be a matter of great concern for the rest of the sector.

There will be a protest rally outside London Met on Holloway Road this comingWednesday 13th July at 1pm. If you are unable to get to this, we are going to arrange a poster for people to use for selfie photographs, which you can then email to us at We also invite colleagues to email messages of protest to the Vice-Chancellor, John Raftery, at and will shortly be issuing information about a Thunderclap (Twitter) campaign: Reinstate UCU’s Mark & David.

In addition, to protest against both victimisation of union reps and the recently-announced loss of a further 400 jobs at London Met, there will be a national demonstration - Education For All - in Islington on Saturday 23rd July, gathering at the Tower Building on Holloway Road and walking to Highbury Fields for a rally. Gather at 11.30 to head off at 12. Please let friends and colleagues know.

Finally, the text below is for an open letter to the Times Higher Education. The deadline for submissions is 9am on Monday 11th July. Please contact us at asap with your name, institution & position, and email address if you would be willing to be included as a signatory.

David Hardman and Mark Campbell
Copyright © 2016 UCU London Retired Members Branch, All rights reserved.
UCU London Retired Members Branch - members and supporters

Our mailing address is:
UCU London Retired Members Branch
53 Fladgate Road
Leytonstone, London E11 1LX
United Kingdom

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Friday, 8 July 2016

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control
Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan, with discussion and brief talks by Kerria Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.
22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)
Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.
1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join the union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.
In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of ‘foreigners taking our jobs’. In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.
Refreshments will be available for a donation. Contact for more information. Venue is wheelchair accessible.
  • !Save the date for the Lucas Plan 40th Anniversary Conference in Birmingham Saturday November 26th - more information soon at

UCU In the news: 8 July 2016

In the news: 8 July 2016

A look back at some of the week's news
EU nationals must not be used as pawns in Brexit negotiations, says UCU
UCU this week called on the government and Conservative party leadership candidates to make a firm commitment that all EU nationals already in the UK can stay. The union was responding to a refusal from Tory frontrunner Theresa May to confirm that EU nationals could stay, and the suggestion that their status could be up for negotiation as part of Britain's Brexit strategy.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Politicians have been ducking the difficult fallout from the Brexit vote for too long. It is simply not acceptable to try and use EU nationals who have been living, working and paying tax in this country as pawns in any Brexit negotiations. It's time for the government, and those who wish to lead it, to clearly state that EU nationals can remain in this country.'

Forty universities hit by strikes this week with more to come
UCU members at 40 universities were on strike across the UK this week, fromScotland to Plymouth. Thirty-three institutions took action on Tuesday with many joining regional rallies with colleagues in the National Union of Teachers, who were also on strike on Tuesday. Ten institutions will be out next week with Edge Hill and Exeter kicking things off on Monday.
Writing in Public Sector Focus magazine, Sally Hunt takes the employers to task for their failure to close the gender pay gap and refusal to make a fair pay offer. She also says it's a scandal that universities have allowed insecure contracts to become the norm and warns that the more normal they become, the more their existence will lower the bar of acceptable employer behaviour. 

Sainsbury review of technical education
The government must invest properly in colleges and the further education workforce if proposed reforms of technical and professional education are to succeed, said UCU today. The union was commenting ahead of the Sainsbury review of technical education, due to be published today.
The review is expected to recommend significant changes such as young people at 16 being asked to choose between an academic A-level option, or to take one of 15 new technical options. The new technical routes will be delivered through a mix of college-based courses and apprenticeships, with a focus on developing core skills including English and maths, as well as specialist occupational skills.
UCU welcomed the report's emphasis on college-based learning as a key part of each new route, but warned that government will need to invest in colleges and address the falling value of lecturers' pay if it wants to ensure that the new routes are high-quality and delivered by expert teaching staff.
Sally Hunt said: 'These significant reforms can only happen if the government supports college staff. Addressing declining staff pay will be vital if colleges are to attract the best staff to deliver core and specialist training.
'While there are some welcome proposals, the government needs to ensure it does not pigeon hole young people too early. The option to mix A-levels with vocational options like BTECs has been helpful in widening participation, so we need to ensure a broad and flexible curriculum is still available for students, including older people looking to retrain. The key will be delivering proper careers advice so people are making informed decisions that allow them to fulfil their potential.'

UCU and the National Union of Students confirm national demonstration date
UCU and the National Union of Students (NUS) have set Saturday 12 November 2016 as the date for a national demonstration in central London. The union said the demonstration would take concerns about the cost of education and the worsening pay and conditions of staff right to the heart of government.
Both organisations will be meeting and working with local representatives and members to build support for the November event. Speakers and a route will be confirmed at a later date. Follow the #DemoN12 Twitter hashtag for all the latest news.
Sally Hunt said: 'We announced plans for a national autumn demonstration at our congress in May and can now confirm it will take place on Saturday 12 November. The world has changed a lot in those few months and it is absolutely vital that students, lecturers and supporters of a fair education system join us to take our message to the heart of the government.'

Invest in staff, not just "shiny buildings" says Sally Hunt
Writing in the Financial Times this week, Sally Hunt challenged the idea that students and their parents want, and are impressed by, "shiny buildings". Responding tocomments from Higher Education Policy Institute director Nick Hillman, Sally suggested he should revisit his own study that showed students offered a decidedly lukewarm approval of universities' building projects, with half (49%) saying they should cut back and instead invest in other areas such as teaching.
Explaining why UCU members are on strike over pay, Sally says that behind the veneer of shiny buildings, 49% of teaching staff are on insecure contracts, female academics are paid 12.6% less than their male colleagues and staff have seen their pay drop by 14.5% in real-terms since 2009.

The failings of for-profit education: from Socrates' fears to Trump's fraud
Writing in the Guardian, A J Angulo - the author of Diploma Mills: How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers and the American Dream - echoes many of UCU's concerns about for-profit colleges and their attempts to get a stronger grip on UK higher education.
He lists the many failings of for-profit education and says as early as 400BC Socrates had warned that establishing students as consumers would be a mistake. Angulo says recent attempts to detoxify the for-profits' brand are mere cosmetic alterations as changing those at the top does little to address the conflicts of interests that arise when profit motivates owners and shareholders.
He concludes that, like Socrates, we must reject the canard that a university education is just another commodity.

UCU says it's time to look properly at how to fund Scottish universities
A report has found it has become more difficult for Scots to get a university place at an institution in Scotland. In a major review of higher education in Scotland, public spending watchdog Audit Scotland highlighted a 6% real terms cut in the amount of cash universities receive from the Scottish Funding Council.
The BBC reported that the Scottish government provided more than £1.7bn to universities and students in 2014/15 but the study said institutions were "placing increasing reliance on generating income from fee-paying students from the rest of the UK and outside the EU."
UCU Scottish official, Mary Senior, said: 'The report's conclusion makes it clear that public funding is central to our universities' success both in widening access and remaining world-leading institutions. The Scottish government needs to take a hard look at the level of funding it gives to higher education and how it raises that money. We believe the time has now arrived to properly appraise taxation policy and whether we need to use the parliament's new powers.'

University of Bolton criticised for cash and iPad incentive student recruitment scheme
Academics at the University of Bolton are being offered cash rewards potentially worth thousands of pounds if their courses meet or exceed recruitment targets. UCU described the student recruitment incentive scheme, seen by Times Higher Education, as "just wrong".
Leaders of undergraduate courses that recruited 15 or more students last year will be eligible for a reward of £1,000 if they match the 2015 figure this autumn. For courses that signed up fewer than 15 students in September, the target is to hit 15 for the first time. Then, for each additional student beyond the threshold, programme leaders will receive an additional £200, in the case of full-time students, and £100 for part-time students.
Programme leaders will be eligible to share half their total bonus with other academics who have been directly responsible for the increase in student numbers. Under the scheme there are other prizes on offer, including iPads.
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said that the Bolton scheme would be illegal in the US. 'We are unhappy with the idea of staff being given blatant financial incentives to help bring in more numbers; this is just wrong. We would rather student recruitment is based on students and courses finding a match that ultimately suits them best and we have faith in professional recruitment staff being best placed to do this,' he said.

Cornwall College principal resigns in salary row
The principal of Cornwall College has resigned following calls from UCU to consider cutting his own £229,000 salary package - a rise of 9% on the previous year - rather than make redundancies. The BBC said Amarjit Basi will leave his post as principal and chief executive of Cornwall College at the end of July.
At the end of May, UCU called on Basi to re-assess his own salary in the light of more redundancies at the college. UCU regional official, Philippa Davey, said: 'Our proposal was that the principal considers a pay cut. It was one of several put forward by the union in response to yet another round of redundancies at Cornwall College.'

South Downs College strikes off as contracts dispute resolved 
Strike action planned at South Downs College has been cancelled after an agreement was reached between the college and UCU over new contracts.
Staff were due to walk out yesterday and Tuesday this week following on from two days' action last week. However, an improved deal was put to members, including assurances over salary protection, holiday entitlement and strike pay deductions, which they overwhelmingly voted to accept.
UCU regional official, Moray McAulay, said: 'UCU members have overwhelmingly voted to accept the new deal put forward by the college. Strike action planned for this week is off and the dispute is resolved.'
Last updated: 8 July 2016

Thursday, 7 July 2016

March with us to defend migrants' rights


promotion for Demo this Saturday below

+ the annual Stop Racism Demo the following SAT 16TH JULY is now a joint event with the People's Assembly - 'No to Austerity / Tories Out / No to Racism - refugees welcome'

Best Wishes

Subject: March with us to defend migrants' rights
Dear Romayne,
Today, many EU citizens living in the UK will be breathing a sigh of relief. Since the referendum result, the future of their lives, homes and relationships in the UK was shadowed in doubt. But last night, parliament sent a clear signal to the government that EU nationals settled in the UK should have the right to remain after Brexit.
Labour MP Andy Burnham said it was "a victory for common sense and decency". And at Global Justice Now, we agree. But we also believe that this fight goes beyond protecting the rights of a privileged few within the boundaries of “Fortress Europe”.Yesterday’s vote is a promising sign in the fight for freedom of movement - a right that we expect, and even take for granted in the UK. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with those around the world who are denied this right.

March with us

On Saturday, we’ll be marching with Another Europe Is Possible to say: defend free movement and extend it beyond Europe. No one is illegal! Will you join us on Saturday at1pm outside Downing Street? You can sign up on the Facebook page, or just come along on the day.

Other ways to get involved

If you can’t make it, don’t worry - there are lots of other ways to stand in solidaritywith those denied freedom of movement. We’ve already been arguing that Europe’s so-called migrant crisis is in fact a crisis of inequality, poverty and conflict. We have leaflets, posters and briefings on freedom of movement. Please will you order a pack of materials? You could give a few to friends, neighbours or leave some in your local library.
Yesterday’s vote is a step in the right direction. We’ve shown solidarity with those fleeing economic downturn in EU countries like Greece. Let’s demand the same for those fleeing poverty and destitution  around the world. Our government will be bargaining for the rights of UK nationals living abroad - what about those stuck at borders in France, fleeing bombs and terror? We believe everybody has the right to free movement, not just those with the ‘correct’ passports.
Global Justice Now is a movement working for a fairer, more equal world. Together, we can build a world where nobody is forced to flee their homes. But in the meantime, we can’t stand by while fences are built to stop them from fleeing.

Take action now

Will you stand arm in arm with people around the world who are denied their right to freedom of movement? Please, join us at Saturday’s march, where a representative of Global Justice Now will be speaking. Or order a pack of leaflets to help spread our message.
Thanks for your support,
Kahra Wayland-Larty
Campaigner at Global Justice Now
Join Global Justice Now:
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