Trade unions

University employers say union demands on pay are unaffordable | Education

Union demands on pensions, pay and conditions are unaffordable and will put vulnerable institutions that are already in deficit at even greater risk, university employers have said. Speaking before strike action planned for this week on 74 campuses across the UK, the employers said many institutions that had already reported shortfalls were being asked to go beyond what they could afford to meet union demands. They appealed to the University and College Union, which represents lecturers, librarians, technicians and other…

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Primary schools in England hold half-term Sats revision classes | Education

Primary schools in England are holding half-term and Easter holiday revision classes for pupils as young as six to prepare them for standardised tests known as Sats, the Guardian has learned. The use of holiday “booster sessions” for pupils in year two was robustly condemned by the Department for Education (DfE) and major teaching unions, with one union leader describing them as “an extraordinarily bad idea” with no positive impact. One primary school in north London has invited its year…

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University staff prepare for fresh strikes in row over pay and pensions | Education

Lecturers, librarians, technicians and other academic staff at 74 UK universities could walk out on strike this term after a series of re-ballots, as their dispute over pensions, pay and conditions continues. More than 40,000 staff at 60 universities went out on strike for eight days late last year in pursuit of their demands, with the threat of further industrial action in the new year. Staff at a further 14 universities have now voted in favour of industrial action after…

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Senior UK academics protest over pay and working conditions | Education

Senior academics are refusing to act as external examiners – a vital part of higher education assessments – in protest at pay and working conditions in UK universities, and are urging colleagues to join them, potentially disrupting this year’s results for students. British universities rely on external examiners to independently validate the results of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, meaning that mass resignations would cause headaches for universities in the setting and marking of exams. A letter to the Guardian signed…

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Thousands of UK academics ‘treated as second-class citizens’ | Education

Thousands of academic staff at British universities are being treated as second-class citizens on precarious contracts, says a report highlighting the “alarming rise of mass casualised labour” in higher education. The report by the University and College Union claims institutions have created a pool of low-paid staff to teach undergraduates, conduct research and work in libraries, despite having advanced postgraduate or other academic qualifications. It calls on the Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, to require each…

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Sussex University offers students up to £100 for strike distress | Education

The University of Sussex is offering students up to £100 if they suffered “distress and inconvenience” during recent strikes, becoming the first British university to give compensation to students in the middle of industrial action. The move is a sign of the increasing efforts by universities to resolve student complaints swiftly and head off action through the courts or regulators that could lead to more damaging penalties. Sussex launched its “industrial action ex gratia scheme” this week, with an email…

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Third of Cambridge University staff ‘have experienced bullying’ | Education

Nearly a third of staff at the University of Cambridge say they have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace, according to an internal survey obtained by the Guardian that revealed what one union called “a culture of bullying” in parts of the institution. Responses from 3,000 academic and non-academic staff – a quarter of Cambridge’s total workforce – found that nearly one in three had either been the victims of bullying and other forms of victimisation or had seen…

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Don’t mislead applicants, regulator warns universities | Education

England’s higher education regulator is urging universities to avoid using misleading adverts and financial inducements to attract students, saying it could encourage applicants to make choices that are not in their best interests. The Office for Students said offering inducements such as last-minute bursaries to fill up undergraduate courses risked students being swayed by “a sales pitch with questionable incentives” rather than academic criteria. “There are concerns about the use of financial offers and inducements being made to prospective students…

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Headteacher Judy Shaw: ‘My staff are fantastic but they can’t fight poverty’ | Education

On Judy Shaw’s first day as a headteacher, a man came to show her one of the school’s vast brick walls. She recalls: “He said, ‘Is that pointing all right for you then?’ and I stood there and I thought, this job is not what I thought it was going to be.” But 14 years later Shaw is still headteacher of Tuel Lane infant school in Sowerby Bridge, a town nestled along the River Calder in West Yorkshire. In that…

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University strikes offer a lesson in principles, pay and pensions | Letter | Education

Your editorial is right to emphasise the wider issues in the strike by university lecturers and support services (Lecturers have a just cause in this important battle for the soul of the campus, 26 November). But the pensions issue still lies at the heart of the dispute. With a few retired colleagues, we have been attempting to persuade both the University and College Union (UCU) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to deal with the serious generational unfairness that has…

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International students crossing picket lines ‘out of fear of losing visas’ | Education

Campaigners against hostile environment policies in higher education are calling on universities to suspend monitoring of international students’ attendance during strike action, because of growing fears their visas will be at risk if they choose not to cross picket lines. Responding to a call-out to Guardian readers about ongoing industrial action in 60 universities across the UK, a number of international students said they were supportive of strike action but worried about failing to comply with attendance requirements with potential…

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University strike: tens of thousands of staff walk out across UK | Education

Universities across the UK are facing widespread disruption after tens of thousands of lecturers and other staff walked out on strike in protest over pay cuts, increased pension costs and deteriorating conditions. Union leaders reported a strong show of support on Monday for the industrial action, which will last eight days and could extend into the new year with a second wave of strikes if staff demands are not met. Pickets had been set up at 60 universities that are…

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Union warns of further strikes in universities row | Education

University students in the UK are facing disruption to their studies in the last few weeks of term and into the new year after union leaders warned of a second wave of strike action if staff demands are not met. More than 40,000 university staff at 60 universities are preparing to go on strike for eight days from next Monday, followed by a period of work to rule, in protest over their pensions, pay and conditions. But with no progress…

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Teaching union calls zero-tolerance school policies ‘inhumane’ | Education

A teaching union has described increasingly draconian behaviour policies in schools in England as “inhumane” and “damaging to pupil mental health”. The National Education Union (NEU), which is holding its annual conference in Liverpool this week, said zero-tolerance approaches to discipline were resulting in schoolchildren spending inappropriate and harmful amounts of time in isolation. Anna Wolmuth, a teacher from Islington, north London, told the conference: “While classrooms may be calm, the referral rooms are full of Send [special educational needs…

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Teaching union warns of ‘super-sized’ classes in English schools | Education

Class sizes in secondary schools in England will hit a 40-year high owing to a sharp increase in pupil numbers being compounded by the growing funding crisis, teachers’ leaders havesaid. Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), predicted that significantly more secondary school pupils would find themselves being taught in “super-sized classes”, which will “enrage” parents. Secondary schools in some areas of England are already starting to experience significant growth in pupil numbers as a…

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One in five teachers using own money for school supplies – report | Education

One in five teachers are spending their own money on classroom supplies, while nearly half say they buy food, clothes and even soap for poor pupils, according to a report charting the effects of austerity on schools. Among the more than 4,300 teachers who responded to the NASUWT education union, 20% said they paid for resources such as paper or books used in their lessons at least once a week, with half of those saying they did so “several times…

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