New NAHT leader 'patronising'

14th January 2005 at 00:00
David Hawker may have had a letter from the Brighton and Hove branch secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, congratulating him on his "election", or, is that "appointment" as general secretary of the NAHT (TES, December 17). He can have one from this branch secretary as well!

His announcement that he was to leave Brighton council was met with universal joy from 750 teaching assistants in the city. They were about to take their third day of strike action, due to this employer's hard-line stance over workforce agreement related grades. No mention of that in your letter, David, I wonder why.

He says he does not "seek confrontation". No? Throughout 10 months of negotiations, neither Mr Hawker, nor his assistant directors, has attended a single negotiating meeting over this major industrial relations issue in this authority. He has been "happy", however, to attack Unison and the GMB and, by definition, our TAs over the past two months, with misinformation, and a patronising attitude. Only last week he again used the term "non-teaching staff".

Apparently he believes it fair to re-grade TAs (with jointly agreed, evaluated grades), but take away up to seven paid weeks. The word "clawback" comes to mind.

My only word of warning to NAHT members is to watch out. Your new leader-designate might decide it fair that you are paid term-time only, that while you are of immense value to your school, and you do get long summer holidays, a pay packet based on 4445 weeks is more appropriate.

Please speed up his appointment, as Brighton and Hove needs a new director who will take some responsibility for the education department.

Alex Knutsen Branch secretary Brighton and Hove Unison

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