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Business of the Education Committee 2017

UCU Congress 2017: Saturday 27 May 2017, 16:45-18:00.

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU785). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 4 of the NEC's report to Congress

Motions:

35 - Post-16 education policy
36 - Government education policy - Institutes of Technology
37 - Apprenticeship reforms
38 - Marking
39 - Education and training of workers in adult social care
40 - Academic freedom
41 - Academic freedom
42 - Prevent
43 - Prevent
L7 -  Stop the climate of fear - no troops on campus
44 - Anti-racist education
45 - Decolonise kyriarchal education by resourcing collaboration to Liberate The Curriculum

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy


New paragraph, Post-16 education policy


35 Post-16 education policy - National Executive Committee

Congress commends progress made by the Education Committee during 2016/17 in four key areas:

  1. proposals for a fairer post-qualifications admissions system
  2. research into the transformational impact of FE which has become the brilliant 'FE Transforms' campaign
  3. a major comparative survey of staff's views on academic freedom
  4. a clear policy response to government legislation, including HE and Research Bill

Congress believes that while policy development is important, engagement with members and stakeholders is equally vital, congratulates the committee on its successful 2017 Cradle to Grave conference and supports the Committee's efforts to generalise its impact through local policy events.

In 2017/18, Congress asks the committee to look at how universities and colleges support refugees; enable branches to localise the FE Transforms campaign; provide an effective critique of TEF and REF; produce the policy foundation for a campaign in support of Additional Learning Support funding.

CARRIED


36  Government education policy - Institutes of Technology - Activate Learning (City of Oxford College)

Congress gives a cautious welcome to the announcement of £170 million capital funding for the creation of Institutes of Technology announced in the government's green paper in 2017.  Congress believes that:

  1. provision of high quality technical education is welcome
  2. operating at levels three, four and five will provide a bridge between FE and HE
  3. the funding promised is though inadequate for comprehensive coverage
  4. the Institutes of Technology  must not be at the expense of developing existing provision in general FE colleges.

FALLS


37  Apprenticeship Reforms - Eastern and Home Counties Regional Committee

Congress recognises that all political parties are supportive of increasing and expanding apprenticeships both in FE and also in HE with degree apprenticeships. From April this year reforms have been introduced that will have an effect on funding of these apprenticeships with the Apprenticeship Levy and at the same time changes to curriculum content is also being phased in from traditional 'frameworks' to new 'standards'. Both initiatives give employers a greater influence over the development of apprenticeships then currently exists.

Congress asks for the following actions:

  1. research and develop a briefing paper on apprenticeships in all sectors that includes what UCU thinks a quality apprenticeship should look like
  2. give clear and detailed advice to branches on negotiating and organising around apprenticeship provision
  3. nationally campaign to recruit and support staff working in apprenticeships who are very often expected to teach on non-lecturing contracts etc. often off-site and invisible.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

37A.1  Academic Related, Professional Staff Committee

Add at the end of point 2.: 'As part of this advice, ensure apprenticeships, particularly for academic related professional staff, feed into genuine and appropriately graded progression pathways.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Congress recognises that all political parties are supportive of increasing and expanding apprenticeships both in FE and also in HE with degree apprenticeships. From April this year reforms have been introduced that will have an effect on funding of these apprenticeships with the Apprenticeship Levy and at the same time changes to curriculum content is also being phased in from traditional 'frameworks' to new 'standards'. Both initiatives give employers a greater influence over the development of apprenticeships then currently exists.

Congress asks for the following actions:

  1. research and develop a briefing paper on apprenticeships in all sectors that includes what UCU thinks a quality apprenticeship should look like
  2. give clear and detailed advice to branches on negotiating and organising around apprenticeship provision. As part of this advice, ensure apprenticeships, particularly for academic related professional staff, feed into genuine and appropriately graded progression pathways.
  3. nationally campaign to recruit and support staff working in apprenticeships who are very often expected to teach on non-lecturing contracts etc. often off-site and invisible.

38  Marking - South East Regional Committee

Congress:

  1. recognises the negative role of marking in speeding up, standardising and rendering less autonomous the process of teaching
  2. deplores what systems like NSS have done to deform relationships between students and tutors
  3. notes the ways in which a hollowed-out, model of feedback has become politicised as an instrument with which institutions discipline tutor relationships with students
  4. affirms the importance to learning of well-designed, rigorous, timely and constructive feedback but commits to resist the model of feedback which turns marking into an alienating business for 'satisfying' students as consumers
  5. commits to:
    a. protecting 'turnaround time' as a measure of time determined by tutors not by centralised systems or league tables
    b. working with NUS to promote a participatory model of marking and feedback which recognises the rights of staff
    c. work at local/regional level to combat reductions in 'turnaround' time not accompanied by a corresponding reduction in marking load.

CARRIED


39  Education and training of workers in adult social care - Eastern and Home Counties Retired Members Branch

Finally there seems to be a wider recognition of the inadequate provision of adult social care and that a proper service is vital to the efficient functioning of a comprehensive national health service.

However, despite surveys showing that many care workers feel that they have not been trained for the tasks they are asked to undertake, education and training of workers has not featured in the public debate.

A bewildering array of qualifications already exists but it is not clear who has been charged with ensuring that workers have access to appropriate courses and are required to gain the consequent qualifications.

Congress calls on UCU to investigate this situation, preferably in concert with Unison and any other interested unions, with a view to establishing a nationally recognised and required framework of initial qualifications and continuing professional development.

CARRIED


New paragraph, Academic freedom


40  Academic freedom - University of Derby, East Midlands Regional Committee

Congress instructs the NEC to bring to Congress in 2018 a statement in defence of academic freedom as an addition to UCU rules Section 2 'Aims and Objects'.

In reflecting on the wording of this amendment the NEC will consider the Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) principles of academic freedom:

  1. that academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive, and
  2. that academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

40A.1  Academic Related, Professional Staff Committee

Add in point 1. after 'academics' - 'and academic-related professional staff'.

CARRIED

40A.2  University of Bath

In second paragraph, replace 'wording of this amendment' with 'rule change'.  Delete 'the Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) principles of academic freedom' and replace with 'the following principles'.

In point 1., delete ', both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty' and replace with 'should be free within the law'

In point 2., delete text after 'that' and replace with 'employers have no right to curb the free speech of their staff, academic or otherwise, whether on political or commercial grounds, or to penalize them for the honest expression of a point of view.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Congress instructs the NEC to bring to Congress in 2018 a statement in defence of academic freedom as an addition to UCU rules Section 2 'Aims and Objects'.

In reflecting on the rule change the NEC will consider the following principles:

  1. that academics and academic-related professional staff should be free within the law to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive, and
  2. that employers have no right to curb the free speech of their staff, academic or otherwise, whether on political or commercial grounds, or to penalize them for the honest expression of a point of view.

41  Academic freedom - National Executive Committee

Congress notes with concern the worrying trend towards post-truth political narratives and believes that UCU has a unique responsibility to stand up for evidence, enquiry and the truth.  Congress also recognises that the Karran report commissioned by the Education Committee raises serious questions about the level of protection for academic freedom within universities and colleges and calls upon the committee to:

  1. instigate, alongside ROCC, a major campaign on academic freedom in the UK, focusing on the key issues of autonomy about what to teach or research, security of employment and academic governance
  2. challenge the idea that there are legitimate alternatives to established truths and defend members who do similar
  3. engage with the wider public on the importance of evidence, expertise and truth as the foundations upon which a civilised society is built.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

41A.1  National Executive Committee

Delete point 2 and replace with:

'challenge, and support members who challenge, fake news and deliberate distortion of evidence.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Congress notes with concern the worrying trend towards post-truth political narratives and believes that UCU has a unique responsibility to stand up for evidence, enquiry and the truth.  Congress also recognises that the Karran report commissioned by the Education Committee raises serious questions about the level of protection for academic freedom within universities and colleges and calls upon the committee to:

  1. instigate, alongside ROCC, a major campaign on academic freedom in the UK, focusing on the key issues of autonomy about what to teach or research, security of employment and academic governance
  2. challenge, and support members who challenge, fake news and deliberate distortion of evidence
  3. engage with the wider public on the importance of evidence, expertise and truth as the foundations upon which a civilised society is built.

New paragraph, Prevent, anti-racism and education curriculum


42  Prevent - Chesterfield College

Congress notes that:

  1. the statutory duty imposed on schools, colleges and universities has been widely discredited across a broad range of opinion, including the Muslim community, education and student unions, legal specialists and even within law enforcement agencies
  2. the government's refusal to repeal this legislation or conduct an independent public enquiry.

Congress believes that:

  1. the Prevent narrative in colleges and universities is fuelling the climate of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime and feeding into the general climate of racism against minorities, including migrants and refugees.

Congress resolves to:

  1. call for and campaign for withdrawal of the Prevent statutory duty
  2. support members boycotting Prevent where there's a clear breach of equality and anti-discrimination duties
  3. iencourage branches to order the Stand Up to Racism pamphlet: 'Prevent: Why We should Dissent' (with contributions from UCU NEC, NUT NEC, NUS, Michael Mansfield QC and Muslim Engagement and Development).

CARRIED


43 (EP) Prevent - University of Brighton, Falmer

Congress notes the rapidity and extent of the reach of Prevent into College and University Campuses.

It notes and deplores the way College and University leaders have engaged with their duty to implement Prevent. 

Congress notes further the difficulty staff have in discussing Prevent at work. The restrictions on external speakers in HE, for example, the duty to demonstrate 'British Values' in FE, have contributed to a context of increasing surveillance, fear and intolerance. These are racialized structures: they have a heavier impact by far on our Muslim colleagues and students even as they also hold the potential to impact other forms of identity and activity in HE and FE.

Congress commits UCU to redouble its efforts to defeat Prevent in education, and to do this by finding ways to publicly articulate our core values of equality, diversity, academic freedom and debate as central to post-16 education.

CARRIED


L7  Stop the climate of fear - no troops on campus

The government's decision to raise the terror threat to critical has seen increased deployment of armed police and military on our streets and on our campuses.  We are concerned that there is a danger that this could prove counter-productive.

Congress recognises that the deployment of armed police and troops and the government threat to extend the prevent agenda will further divide our communities and lead to a climate of fear.

Congress opposes the deployment of armed police or troops on campus and any extension of the prevent agenda and resolves to make this position clear to government.

CARRIED


44  Composite: Anti-racist education - Croydon College, University of Liverpool

Congress notes that the election of Donald Trump, the rise in support for the European far right and the poisonous debate (from both official 'Leave' and 'Remain' campaigns) during the EU referendum have led to a spike in hate crime in the UK and fear of the growth of racist and fascist movements.

With 'fake news' dominating the dialogue around the question of immigration it is vital that as teachers we combat the myths being peddled by politicians and the media.

Congress believes that:

  1. the use of Prevent on our campuses is at the centre of demonising Muslim students and the wider Muslim community
  2. UCU members have to be pro-active in opposing Prevent and combating racist ideas on the campuses and in the colleges.

Congress instructs:

  1. the NEC to organise a national conference on anti-racist education and to encourage UCU regions and branches to develop a strategy to develop an anti-racist curriculum.

CARRIED


45  Decolonise kyriarchal education by resourcing collaboration to Liberate The Curriculum - Black Members Standing Committee

Conference notes that:

  1. Kyriarchy, as defined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, is 'a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression'.
  2. in supposedly 'post'-colonial education, the legacy of the British Empire is colonial kyriarchy: perspectives from the peak of this colonial pyramid are promoted, as if they set a universal standard.
  3. this structural propping-up of these minority perspectives unjustly determines what:
  • research is funded
  • curricula are taught, and
  • assessments are made, in recruiting, retaining, and progressing both students and staff.

Conference further notes that:

  1. 'Liberate The Curriculum' aims to empower students with tools to decolonise kyriarchal education
  2. it does this by amplifying local decolonial campaigns—such as 'Why Is My Curriculum White?', 'Rhodes Must Fall', 'Decolonising SOAS'— spreading their good practice nationally.

Conference resolves to resource local branches to work strategically with (decolonial groups within) local student unions to 'Liberate The Curriculum'.

CARRIED

Last updated: 27 May 2017