Agenda item

Education Unions Facility Time


Ian Henderson to report.


Recommendation:-  To approve the consultation with schools.


Ian Henderson introduced the submitted report and provided some background and how there were several pieces of legislation which provided a legal obligation on employers to provide paid time off to elected trade union representatives from their employment to enable them to carry out trade union duties. 


The amount of secondment time granted to each education union in Rotherham was dependent upon the funds available from contributing Schools/Academies to the Facility Time Buyback Scheme.  The funding received paid for the release of the union officials from their employing school.  The amount of facility time available was reviewed and agreed each year and should the funding be reduced or increased through variations in the number of schools contributing, the amount of seconded time off was reduced or increased accordingly.


The teaching profession continued to be one of the most unionised professions in the country and consequently the recognised education unions in Rotherham represented over 99% of teachers in the borough.


The total facility time able to be funded from the buyback budget and afforded to the education unions currently equated to 1.2 FTE (6.25 days).    This amount of facility time fell short of the normal industry practice of granting 1 FTE day facility time per 1,000 members.


The NEU had 1348 members which would equate to 6.75 days facility time for that union if the above ratio was applied, half a day more than the total amount of time currently provided to the NEU, NASUWT, NAHT and ASCL combined.  A total of thirteen days facility time would be required to align to current union membership figures and a ratio of 1 FTE day per 1,000 members. 


Benchmarking had identified that Rotherham’s per pupil charge was the lowest in the region, being less than half that of our nearest statistical comparator, Barnsley Council.


To provide a more representative facility time to the education unions, to enable them to represent their members effectively, the per pupil rate could be increased in line with statistical neighbours to provide a higher budget for the allocation. 


Options for consideration, therefore, were:-


Option 1

Maintain policy of increasing the per pupil charge by the rate of inflation.  It was not recommended that this approach was taken as it failed to address the insufficient facility time required for schools to be adequately supported in employee relation issues in a timely manner by the unions.


Option 2

Increase the per pupil charge to £4.75 from 1st April, 2022.   This option would provide the budget required to increase the facility time allocation to representative levels, however schools will not have budgeted for such an increase and the pressure from the current pandemic has already put on school budgets it was not recommended that this approach was taken.


Option 3

The per pupil charge could be increased incrementally over the next five years by 55p over the normal inflationary price increase from 1st April, 2022.   This phased approach would allow schools to accommodate the increase into their medium to long term budget planning. 


Examples of how members were affected and the highly regarded de-escalation techniques used with schools and colleagues were provided.


The favoured option recommended was that the per pupil charge for the facility time buyback be increased in line with statistical neighbours and this be achieved by the implementation of Option 3 from 1st April, 2022.


Agreed:-  That the report be received and a consultation process be undertaken with schools on the three options contained within the report.

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