This page is divided into the following sections:
- Campaigning Objectives
- Communication Plan
- What Action to Take
- Defending Members
Letter writing campaigns:
To support campaigns about nursery closures, click here for specimen letters to chair of governors, local councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs).
To support campaigns about protesting the employment of qualified teachers in early years settings, click here for specimen letters to chairs of governors, local councillors and Parliaments (MPs).
Discussion with parents:
The Union has prepared information sheets for parents on the importance of nursery education and of the importance of qualified teachers in early years settings.
Local campaigns should have clear aims, including those set out below.
- To establish a clear position in opposition to the closure of a maintained nursery school. The stance of the campaign should be based on the need to protect and improve the quality of education provided, not about preserving the status quo.
- To raise awareness of the implications of a proposal to close a maintained nursery school among members, parents and the wider community.
- To raise awareness of the implications of any proposed reductions in the number of qualified teachers employed in early years settings among members, parents and the wider community.
The NUT believes that all early years settings should contain a rich range of staff who work as a team, including qualified teachers. , This range of expertise is vital if all the social, emotional and learning needs of very young children are to be met. Early years education is too important to be delivered on the cheap. One type of professional cannot substitute for the other.
Gathering and disseminating information about proposals is essential. Initial topics could include the arrangements for alternative early years provision, in particular, comparisons between the existing and alternative provision in terms of staffing, facilities, distances to travel etc or alternative staffing strategies and how these would affect the provision offered to young children and their families.
- An NUT briefing on the latest Government early years developments., including summaries of the Ten Year Childcare Strategy Implementation Plan and the Code of Practice on Free Nursery Education Entitlement 2006, with the NUT’s commentary on them.
- The staffing requirements for early years provision.
- The NUT’s responses to the Children’s Workforce Strategy, National Professional Qualifications for Integrated Centre Leadership Early Years Foundation Stage and Early Years Professional consultations.
- A bibliography of publications (to follow), including books and research reports on high quality early years educational provision is available from the Union.
- A document summarising the closure consultation process for nursery schools , including the criteria for closing maintained nursery schools. The DfES website has a section dedicated to school closures: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolorg/index.cfm.
- A document summarising the consultation procedure for changing maintained nursery school session times.
- The terms and conditions of posts at new Children’s Centres, for example by applying to receive a recruitment pack.
- The attitude of local MPs and councillors. Local MPs and councillors could be asked about their attitude on maintained nursery schools and/or on the employment of qualified teachers. Emphasise the implications of the proposal in terms of the volume of people affected in the local community, including teachers, parents and pupils. Click here for specimen letter.
- Information on the latest media stories can be obtained on-line, for example
http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/ and www.tes.co.uk/search/story/?story_ id=2140309.
- Information on the legislation and procedures relating to the closure of maintained nursery schools is accessible from the Union’s legal team on request to your regional office. Advice on legal issues, including libel, defamation and balloting of affected schools, is also available from the Union’s legal team via your regional office.
Based on the information gathered regarding the plan to close a nursery school and/or reduce the number of qualified teachers employed in early years’ provision, a communication plan should be drawn up. This could include:
Means of Communication
- Use of the regular division newsletter to members, as well as special editions on the issue, to include information regarding local developments.
- Use of electronic communication, for example e-mail addresses which can be accessed remotely could be set up, such as a ‘hotmail’ address on Yahoo.
- Use of the TUC on-line site www.unionreps.org.uk which enables communication between union representatives on suggested campaign strategies and provides a forum for sharing ideas.
- Letter writing campaigns, particularly to influence those in a position
of authority, both locally and nationally. To support campaigns about nursery
school closures, click here for specimen letters to chair
of governors, local
councillors and Members
of Parliament (MPs)
To support campaigns about protecting the employment of qualified teachers in early years settings, click here for specimen letters to chair of governors, local councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs).
- Discussions with parents, at the school gates and through established forums. This should always be done with support from the Union and/or the governing body, not on an individual basis. The Union has prepared information sheets for parents on the importance of nursery education and of the importance of qualified teachers in early years settings, which can be downloaded from the NUT website.
- Arrange meetings to which teachers, governors and councillors are invited. Contact details of local councils can be obtained from: http://www.direct.gov.uk/Dl1/Directories/LocalCouncils/fs/en and of local authorities via http://www.dfes.gov.uk/leagateway/index.cfm?action=address.default.
- Distribution of flyers at school and through letterboxes.
- Articles in local newspapers, local radio and television. Click here for sample articles.
Who to Contact:
- Enlist and support the school NUT representative.
- Establish links with other representatives of other teachers’ associations and of the support staff unions within the school and locally.
- Establish a contact list and database of activists.
- Start a directory of key people to contact in other trade unions and organisations which might support the campaign. Click here for links to relevant organisations.
- Identify press contacts for both regional and national publications.
- Gather contact details for local councillors, lead members and local MPs, for example through the internet via http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/.
WHAT ACTION TO TAKE
The campaign plan of action will vary for each particular situation. Activities could include:
- Establishing a campaign committee of key activists (teachers, parents, support staff), to meet regularly to plan weekly activities. It is particularly useful to give people specific roles and responsibilities, as well as a title for the group. An example of an effective campaign can be found at http://www.sunnybrow.rochdale.sch.uk/.
- Persuading the school’s governing body to support the campaign and if they agree, encourage a formal vote at the governing body meeting so that there will be a public record of their decision. Click here for model letters.
- Raise awareness of the campaign amongst staff at the school and neighbouring schools. Click here for a sample leaflet.
- Providing recruitment material for teachers at the nursery school who are not members of a union. The Union’s recruitment brochure aimed specifically at Foundation Stage teachers is available on request through your NUT regional office.
- Conducting research on the potential impact on the local community. This would enhance the information you have already gathered. The focus could range from research into the implications for local admissions to a survey of local opinion on how the changes could alter the quality of provision.
- This should be community-wide. Distributing campaign materials to parents, through the school if the head teacher is supportive, otherwise outside the school and to houses in the catchment area.
- Organising a petition, including the school community, neighbouring schools and the general public, to be presented to the local authority and/or DfES, inviting the press.
- Arranging meetings with local parents, teachers, support staff, councillors and MPs. Working jointly with other unions in arranging public meetings would strengthen the position. Hold the meetings at the school if possible, otherwise a community site. Where appropriate present the report of the meeting to the local authority and DfES.
- Organising delegations for council meetings. Representation from other unions, and from parents and staff, would enhance the approach. Ensure that the press is advised in advance of the meeting.
- Challenging the local authority to a public debate. Plan questions in advance and keep a record of responses. The detail and quality of the responses could be used to further the campaign.
- Plan awareness raising events, such as a pitch in the town centre during Saturday shopping. Advice regarding public activity is available from the Union’s legal team via your regional office.
- Well-planned activities will be optimised through gaining as much publicity as possible for the campaign. Activities may be organised that are particular to each locality. It may be advisable if you are organizing a campaigning event to check with the Union’s legal team via your regional office about rights, for example, regarding use of public property or disruption of normal services.
Once a maintained nursery school becomes a Children’s Centre or a new Centre is established, there will be practical implications for members. Guidance material and information regarding the effects of changes in their terms and conditions of service is available here for:
Guidance on health and safety issues in Children’s Centres is available here for:
Members should be reminded that, in addition to contacting their Union representatives, further information and advice can be obtained from the Union’s specialist teams via the NUT regional office.