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Welsh activist remembered
NASUWT Cymru has paid tribute to a dedicated and longstanding activist who passed away recently.
Rex Phillips, NASUWT Cymru Organiser, described the shock and great sadness of activists on learning of the death of Jim Goodall, who retired as Torfaen Negotiating Secretary in February this year.
Mr Phillips said: “Jim was a true comrade, a brother and a friend, who gave so much of his time to the NASUWT. He was quiet and gentle but a man of firm resolve who stood unbowed in the defence of the rights and interests of teachers.
“He was a true lay activist who worked tirelessly on behalf of the teachers of Torfaen.”
Mr Goodall served as the Torfaen Secretary from 2003, had taken on the role of Treasurer on several occasions and was an active and effective caseworker right up until his untimely death in May.
Mr Phillips added: “Jim’s achievements in protecting the teachers of Torfaen provided a source of inspiration in combating the problems being encountered across Wales.
“NASUWT Cymru will miss him greatly and will remember him as a champion of the rights and interests of teachers and a crusader in the struggle against unfairness and injustice.”
Admissions code threat
Planned changes to the admissions code to make it easier for ‘popular’ schools in England to expand could further undermine the role of local authorities, increase competition between schools and pose a threat to health and safety, the NASUWT has warned.
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove wants to see changes to the rules on school expansion to end the current requirement for schools to seek permission from local authorities and hold a public consultation if they want to add more than 27 pupils a year.
Local authorities have a key role to play in monitoring and ensuring compliance with the admissions code. Without any overview, schools could take on extra pupils without the required space or resources to do so, putting pressure on class sizes, health and safety provisions and teachers’ workload.
The reforms form part of a ‘slimmed down’ admissions code and are designed to increase competition between schools, with expanding schools taking pupils and funding from their neighbours, threatening their viability.
Mr Gove has claimed that the reforms will ensure a level playing field on admissions for all children and will particularly benefit those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. However, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, suggested that this is far from the reality.
“Once again the public are not being told the whole truth on school admissions.
"The truth is there is no requirement in the code for schools to admit pupils from a diverse range of backgrounds and neither are there any levers in the legislation to ensure they do so.
"The fact that, under this code, grammar schools can increase pupil numbers without any requirement to consult, demonstrates that the Government is deceiving the public when it claims it is not expanding the selective system and widening the social mobility gap between pupils.
"Forget about selection by the back door. This is selection by the front door.”
Yet another U-turn
Education Secretary Michael Gove has been forced into yet another embarrassing U-turn after being exposed trying to shortchange local authorities.
The Secretary of State has agreed to review funding cuts to local authority education budgets after the threat of legal action from councils.
The Minister had sought to top-slice funds from local authorities to provide financial incentives for schools to convert to academy status.
However, councils successfully argued that the way in which the savings had been calculated was unfair and disproportionate.
The ruling marks yet another U-turn from Mr Gove, after public outcries on the axing of School Sports Partnerships, the Education Maintenance Allowance and free books for the poorest children all forced the Minister to retreat from his original plans.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said these repeated climbdowns demonstrated the undue haste with which the Minister was seeking to implement reforms.
“The majority of the public do not agree with the Secretary of State’s vision for education, which is perhaps why he continues to seek to railroad through his policies without proper consultation or public debate,” she said.
“If this Government genuinely cared about democracy, they would not seek to drain public funds of millions of pounds to fund an ideologically driven experiment, without any evidence that it will raise standards and which will effectively privatise our children’s education.”
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