Dear fellow Life Members,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the summer 2020 edition of the NAHT Life Members' newsletter. I sincerely hope in these unusual and challenging Covid-19 times that this newsletter finds you both safe and well and looking forward to a relaxation of the restrictions without the occurrence of a second spike. I am particularly proud to be associated with NAHT at this time as it has taken an effective leading role in supporting its members and their schools in these unique circumstances. Paul Whiteman and all the staff have worked tirelessly to steer government and the Department for Education to provide guidance to our members. They have been outspoken when the directives issued have been ill advised or lacking in clear support from the scientific/health community. My sincere thanks also to the many Life Members who continue to play key roles in the branches and regions. NAHT would struggle without you.
The National Life Member Committee has continued to work remotely during the lockdown, holding virtual and telephone meetings to progress business. As I shared with you in the last newsletter, we were eagerly awaiting the outcome of the AGM on Life Member Sector Council status, which was due to be held at Annual Conference at Cardiff in May 2020. National Executive and Officers are at this time formulating plans for the postponed AGM to be held in the autumn term where the vote will be held. The present National Life Member Committee have held detailed discussions to formulate the possible new structure and workings of a Sector Council for Life Members, following a successful vote. The new structure will be shared with all Life Members following the AGM.
To continue to move business on in the meantime at the meeting of the NLMC on the 10 June elections for officers were held. The outcome was the following appointments:
Chair John Killeen
Vice-Chair Nigel Paton
Communications Officer Michael Wilson
Steve Iredale took this opportunity to step down from the National Life Members Committee. I would like to place on record my and the committee’s appreciation for the professionalism, leadership, and dedication that Steve has given to the role of Chair of the Committee over the last five years. He has been instrumental, along with others on the present committee to the achievement of the transformation of NLMC to a vibrant section of NAHT organisation that more actively and effectively serves the 14,000 Life Members. I shall endeavour to follow his lead.
I hope you find this edition of the newsletter informative and entertaining. We would welcome articles from all members of the Life Member community or suggestions for other items that you might like to see in the future. Michael Wilson can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org with your articles or suggestions.
Enjoy the summer, take care.
Chair of National Life Member Committee.
NAHT 2020-21 Vice President
Tim Bowen – NAHT Vice President 2020-21 – Biography
I am writing to introduce myself to you as the current Vice-President of NAHT.
I graduated with an American Studies BA Hons degree from Manchester University. The course included a year spent studying at The University of Missouri-Columbia, USA, as an exchange student. During my time in the USA I spent three months working as a counsellor at a boys’ summer camp in Texas. This experience was influential in my decision to follow a teaching career and I completed a PGCE in Primary Education at Rolle College, Exmouth.
I began teaching in 1987 and have taught throughout the primary age range. My first headship in 1997 was of a 100-pupil village primary school. In 2001 I moved on to the headship of my present school, Maple Primary School, in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Maple is a single-form entry mainstream primary school, which also has a specialist Hearing Impaired Unit for deaf children. The children placed in the Maple Unit have been assessed as having the potential to develop speech and language without the use of a signing system.
I joined NAHT when I first became a head teacher in 1997 and have been an active member of the Hertfordshire Branch of NAHT, serving as both the Branch Treasurer and the Branch Secretary.
In 2013 I was elected to NAHT’s National Executive as an Eastern Region representative; and I have been the Chair of the International Committee, the Membership Services Committee and the Legal Representation Group. I have also been involved in the recent appointments of some senior members of NAHT staff, as a member of the Finance and Pay and Personnel Committee.
In my role as the Chair of the Membership Services Committee I have regularly attended meetings of the Life Members’ Committee over the past four years. I have been very encouraged with the positive developments that have taken place in the organisation and role of the committee in that time. It is a vibrant and increasingly influential committee, with a very important role to play in our association.
I see my role as Vice-President as an important time of preparation and training prior to becoming your next National President. Despite the strange and difficult start to my year, I am very much enjoying being a member of the National Officers team – and I consider it a real privilege to be given this unique opportunity to serve our Association and our members. I look forward to hopefully being able to meet many Life Members over the next three years, listening to your viewpoints and working hard to further strengthen and develop our great Association.
Away from school and NAHT, I enjoy spending time with my family (I have two teenage daughters), keeping fit, travelling and going to the theatre. I also spend regular holidays as a volunteer guard on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Narrow Gauge Steam Railway in the Lake District – a hobby I have enjoyed for the past 40 years!
Message from Ruth Davies - new NAHT National President 2020
"Our ambitions to welcome you to the home of Rugby World Cup champions may have been thwarted but we still have much to celebrate”: thus began my optimistic call to the conference when I last spoke with you in December 2019. Little did we know of the challenge just around the corner and of the further thwarting to come!
Conference may yet need to take place but there has certainly been no thwarting of effort or of our collective sense of purpose. As an organisation we have stepped up to that challenge, supporting members to confidently take hold of the ‘repurposed’ roles imposed upon them seemingly overnight, leading the national response by applying a strong, distinct voice and growing our membership base well beyond initial targets.
Crisis certainly does breed opportunity and NAHT has positioned itself well at the heart of the response that was called for.
In the middle of all this, as you’ll know, I took over the role of National President in May. I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you already through my roles as Vice President and also as NAHT Cymru president as well. As the ‘Cymru’ part suggests, I’m a serving head teacher in Wales. Having moved to Swansea to read English at university too many years ago to remember, I became one of the many to choose never to leave. I live on the Gower Peninsular, not far from Swansea, and spend as much of my free time as possible walking and cycling around the impressive coastline this part of the country enjoys.
My school is a medium sized primary, serving a mixed catchment on North Gower. I embarked on a teaching career in 1986. Following this, I worked for a local authority’s advisory service as part of its literary team. However, my heart has always remained in school-based practice and this is the setting I returned to shortly before taking up first deputy headship and then headship at Waunarlwydd Primary School in 2004. In that time, I have combined the role as chair of Swansea head teacher forum with that of NAHT branch secretary in order to help advance the cause of leaders and learners. I am also a peer inspector for Estyn and have served on UNICEF’s standards committee since 2016.
In all of this time I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the finest practitioners you could wish to meet and to be currently surrounded by a wonderful team from whom I continue to learn. A focus on rights respecting behaviours has always provided the lynchpin to the communities I’ve led and this terrific group of colleagues continue to help me make sure the voice of the learner as our key stakeholder is right there at the heart of all the decisions we make. The aims may sound lofty but we make mistakes along the way, as well as success. My personal experience though has shown I learn far more from mistakes than from the plans that immediately work out. Creativity, the core feature of any successful school leadership, depends on sound understanding of educational principles but occasionally on risk taking too. Accountability systems predicated around blame, in my experience, tend to militate against sustainable and meaningful improvement. At WPS, I have endeavoured to establish a culture of low blame / high risk which might sound startling at first, but which has helped us build an extremely successful community for the learners and families we serve.
At the heart of all this lies the belief that a diverse community provides opportunity to achieve well beyond the levels we might otherwise have enjoyed. These are the principles, along with a belief in the work of the association as a trade union, upon which I stood for election and ones which I very much look forward to being able to explore further with you over the coming year.
I think it’s fair to say it’s been a pretty unique start to a presidential year. Newfound platforms for communication, for instance through webinars and virtual conferences, have certainly raised levels of engagement to an all time high. I have never met so many people or spoken with such large audiences without actually leaving my lounge! I do miss those face to face meetings with members though and sincerely hope that at some point this year I will get the chance to meet at least some of you beyond a computer screen.
The year ahead is an exciting one for Life Members, one of opportunity and the chance to test out new directions of travel. The establishment of a distinct separate sector council will obviously play a big role in this and I very much look forward to working with you to explore those next steps together.
In the meantime, I want to end by thanking you for your continued support and for the kind personal messages I’ve received, as well as for the work you continue to commit to on behalf of the association. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented leadership experience, and our Life Members team certainly has this in abundance.
NAHT National President 2020
Pensions News Update
Last month, Teacher Pensions explained that due to the need for more updates surrounding the ongoing changes because of COVID-19, it had created a dedicated web page which includes FAQs as well as Scheme updates to help you. Teacher Pensions also created a member page which can be shared with employees.
These will both be updated as and when further developments occur.
Teacher Pensions encourage you to take a look at these pages if you have any questions in relation to COVID-19 prior to contacting us. If you’ve still got any questions that remain unanswered you can still contact Teacher Pensions via email.
State Pensions - Triple Lock under threat
The triple lock on state pensions is at risk of being suspended as fears grow over the possible mammoth-sized bill the Government could be faced with as soon as next year.
The Government could end up ditching the triple lock guarantee on state pensions amid fears they could end up with a very "expensive" bill in 2021. The triple lock stipulates that pensions must rise by whichever is greater of the rate of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 percent. However, Which? Head of Money Gareth Shaw, told Express.co.uk the "bounce back" could prove too much for the Treasury.
National Pensioner Convention
The over 75's TV licence campaign - keeping up the pressure
The NPC has once again written with regards to the over 75's TV licence to:
● Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister
● Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden CBE, MP, Secretary of State DCMS,
The letter sent in June can be found here.
It will go to all party leaders with a request for cross party support and the possibility of questions asked in parliament.
NPC would also urge you to please write and raise the issue of the TV licence for over 75s with your MP, by either using the template letter provided or one of your own. It is important that this is continually raised in parliament even though there may be an extension to implementation.
A template letter that you can amend and send to your MP can be found here
You can find your local MP's details on the below link:
The letters are also available on the NPC website www.npcuk.org
Pensions aim to protect retired people from poverty and allow them to enjoy decent living standards. They are the main source of income for about a quarter of the EU population, with the main source of income for older citizens in Europe being state pensions.
The European Pillar of Social Rights stresses:
● the right of workers and the self-employed to a pension commensurate with contributions and ensuring an adequate income
● the right to equal opportunities to acquire pension rights for both women and men
● the right to resources that ensure living in dignity in old age.
The share of older people in Europe's population and life expectancy are both increasing. European pension systems will need to adapt to stay financially sustainable and be able to provide Europeans with an adequate income in retirement.
Even though pensioners in most EU countries are less likely to be poor than those who work, inequality among pensioners persists:
● There are significant country differences in poverty risk and pension income.
● Older women face a higher risk of poverty or social exclusion than older men do, and women's pensions are more than a third lower on average.
● People in non-standard or self-employment often face less favourable conditions for accessing and accruing pension rights than those in open-ended, full-time job contracts.
● The older people get, the higher the risk of poverty or social exclusion.
As lockdown continues Age UK urges people to look out for older relatives and neighbours as temperatures soar
With hot weather on the way, Age UK is urging people to look out for their older neighbours and relatives, particularly if they live alone or are self-isolating or shielding during this period of 'lockdown'.
Older people can be vulnerable during the hot weather, especially if they live somewhere that is hard to keep cool, so it's important to be aware of older friends and neighbours during a heat wave and to let people know if you have any concerns, or are on your own yourself.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said, “For many, the warmer weather and sunshine that are forecast are thoroughly welcome and something to enjoy. However, this isn’t good news for everyone, with older people being more susceptible to heat-related illness.
Reflections from Northern Ireland
NAHT members who attended national conference in recent years may remember me standing up year after year and apologising because we had “temporarily mislaid our government.” I would have been delighted to report at this year’s conference we had found it again - had we not mislaid our conference!
Joking aside, I am indeed very pleased to note the torturous route of political progress in Northern Ireland has finally opened the doors of the Stormont Assembly once more. Our NAHT members were gearing up to set before our legislature the myriad of issues that beset the education system in its absence (issues we had presented to national conference and gratefully received overwhelming support from to enable us to seek redress) when COVID-19 happened.
As you well know this was an immediate gamechanger throughout the whole of the UK. Overnight, school leaders stepped up to the countless challenges that emerged and demonstrated great flexibility, compassion, problem solving skills and boundless energy as they set about safely keeping schools open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children while implementing ‘blended learning’ using an IT infrastructure that was never designed to deliver what was demanded of it - and all this with greatly reduced support from ‘on high’. Difficult as it has been to meet the challenges Covid-19 has thrown up, to face them without a working government is just unthinkable.
NAHT NI has been at the forefront of ‘keeping the lights on’ in our schools. More than that it is very largely our members who have worked side by side with the Department of Education, the Education Authority and the other employers to shape the road to restoring the ‘new normal’ for the coming term – and all this through very confusing lines of communication.
In truth we have not always agreed with every detail of the plans that have emerged but, on many matters, the NAHT has challenged the Minister and his officials about what is practically possible and professionally desirable for the safety and education of our young people. In pursuit of this we, amongst other things, hosted a webinar where the Minister addressed directly over 500 school leaders (close to half the principals in Northern Ireland!) and answered questions directed at him by our members. In a follow up to this a delegation from our NI Committee persuaded the Minister to make policy changes including altering the date he had set for the reopening of schools. This flows on the heels of NAHT playing a pivotal role in bringing the years longstanding pay and workload dispute to an end with a result that was beneficial to our members.
Without doubt coming out of lockdown is fraught with practical problems for schools but NAHT NI is resolute in its commitment to our children and staff. We will continue to be the voice of reason and our professional opinions will be clearly articulated. The ray of hope for us now is our capacity to influence a working Assembly and the democratically accountable MLAs and Ministers who have at long last taken up the reins of power.