Monthly Archives: November 2014

Education First?

On Tuesday 4th November, Hanson Academy in Bradford sent over 150 pupils home for failing to wear school uniform matching its newly enforced standards. These include minutae about the colour of the socks children wear, type of trousers, colour of shoe laces etc.

Angry parents took to the school’s facebook page to complain, one who had accidentally put her daughters tie in the wash, sent her to school with money for a replacement but she was sent home anyway! But given how tight incomes are at present, many parents can’t simply afford to replace school uniform that was perfectly fine until this week.

The Principal, Elizabeth Churlton made the absurd statement in defence of the policy on the school website that “Our uniform and dress codes set the tone for our community and provide the scaffolding for high standards in every aspect of school life” Surely the scaffolding for high standards should be good quality teaching?

However, Churlton is financially worlds apart from the situation faced by the parents of many of her pupils. The advertisement for the post of principal when Churlton applied for the post was around £125,000 a year, whereas the median wage in Bradford East constituency (where the school is located) is less than £18,000 a year.

Academies were designed to wrest local control away from education and instead it now lays in the hands of over-paid bureaucrats like Churlton and the academy trusts behind them. Rather than prioritising a quality education, their supposed “freedom to innovate” is being used to deny education to some of the poorest students and, like the scrapping of january exams and resists, ‘manage’ their expectations for the future where under capitalism only low pay and zero hour contracts await.

Iain Dalton,
Yorkshire Socialist Students Organiser

Solidarity with the FBU pensions strike

Bradford Socialist Party joins the striking FBU members

Bradford Socialist Party joins the striking FBU members

We joined the pickets at Odsal fire station as the local church clock struck 6pm on all hallows eve, with blue watch descending from the station and spirits running high!

Some amazing stories were being told, one female member of staff said that in South Yorkshire a new computer system from the French government was bought that not only still assigns crews in French but has, I kid you not, attempted to dispatch a ‘pump’ from central Sheffield to a fire at Disneyland, Paris. Now call me old fashioned, but this, along with the current dispute over pensions and the general anti-austerity campaign that the FBU are having to run cannot lead to good morale in a service full of brave people that run into buildings on fire while we actually run away!

The station that we were outside has been reduced from three pumps to now one. Indeed, the crews were saying that it is possibly under threat of closure in the near future under a restructuring programme. Well, we know what that means, more voluntary firefighters and less service, putting the public at extreme risk.

In light of this, we set off for the second picket of the night where we met 15-20 pickets at the Fairweather Green station; not fairweather pickets though! Again, the same stories of management intimidation, people being suspended and the possibility of job losses and certainly a reduction in living wages.

That aside, it was good to join these workers that we should have the utmost respect for and must continue to support in their struggle against the attacks that have been inflicted upon them.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

Why Students Should Support the UCU Marking Boycott

As students are most likely aware, the University and College Union (UCU) have planned a marking boycott that will commence on the 6th November. This will take place at all pre-92 universities, which includes Bradford University.

Bradford University Socialist Students fully support this boycott. Although the boycott may affect our education it is as a result of attacks by the university employers association on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme of our lecturers and academic support staff.

UCU members don’t choose to take any form of industrial action lightly, whether striking or other forms of action such as marking boycotts. Failure to stop these attacks would see staff lose thousands of pounds in retirement, which are in effect deferred wages. The employers argue the USS is in deficit, although their figures exclude all future contributions into the scheme. In reality the scheme is surplus (to the tune of £42bn) and therefore such attacks are unnecessary.

Since the economic crisis and bank bailouts the gap between rich and poor has been growing ever wider. Although lecturers are perhaps not the worst paid in society, even these jobs are being replaced by short-term and zero hour contracts just like other sectors of society. Wages have also stagnated pushing the cost of living up for everyone. If these attacks are not resisted it would only increase USS members struggle in retirement and encourage further attacks on pension rights of all workers.

We support the right to strike and the right for unions to pressure their employers into providing decent jobs, working conditions and pensions, even if it does cause an inconvenience to our life or our education that we pay for.

After all, we pay for our education so we want the best lecturers, high morale amongst staff is essential for us to have the best learning experience. That’s why Socialist Students calls on you to support the boycott, and any upcoming strikes, and show solidarity with our lecturers and other university staff!

Jason Smith – Bradford Uni Socialist Students