UCU NEC elections 2021 – vote Rhiannon for Midlands rep!

I’m a foundation year lecturer (Health, Education and Life Sciences) and doctoral student at BCU. I’m the only West Midlands candidate in 6, standing for one of three Midlands seats on UCU NEC. I’m asking for your vote for:

1) A democratic, member-led union

As a UCU left candidate, I support a member-led union with an active rather than service model of union work. As branch secretary at BCU (2019 – present), I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in challenging times:

· 25% increase in branch membership 

· 1 extra week of holiday negotiated

· Beating the anti-TU legislation to win our ballot for industrial action on Covid safety

Our successes demonstrate we’re most effective when we keep the branch up-to-date on and involved in the work we do, meet frequently, and always put decisions in the hands of members. 

2) Equality at the heart of UCU, and defending dissent

I’m proud to have helped shape UCU policy on trans rights, sex worker solidarity, defending abortion rights, defending migrants, resisting racism, and fighting barriers to accessing or working in education.

I will always support equality work as central to our union. 

As well as the challenges COVID brings, we face a critical period in defending dissent. While the growth this year of BLM and other anti-racist groups is inspirational, the victimisation of Gargi Bhattacharyya is another move to silence critical (often Black) voices in education. It sits alongside the Tory push (building on Prevent) to stamp out critique in the classroom, which requires urgent action from UCU. 

As your representative I will defend the voices of our officers, our members and our students. 

3) A strong Midlands voice on NEC, for all members

I’ve had the privilege of chairing West Midlands region (2014-17) and representing Midlands FE members on NEC (2017-19). Regional structures are key to building UCU, whether providing space for reps to share and strategise, or giving a practical and immediate solidarity network to branches in dispute. As a Midlands NEC rep I will once more:

· Report on national meetings to all branches and to regional committees: scrutiny of and space to feed into decisions are essential for democracy

· Work with branches and the regional committees to promote and support campaigns and disputes, and grow solidarity between branches and the wider labour movement  

UCU should be proud of all we do to fight for education. We must always remember the union belongs to all members. As a former FE worker I will remind NEC we speak for Academic Related and Professional Services staff, post-92, FE, ACE and prison educators as well as pre-92 academic members. 

I’m honoured on the basis of my regional work to be endorsed by representatives from sister unions including the FBU, NEU and Unite, students, and UCU members across our sectors: we’re strongest together. 

Please give your second preference for Midlands HE to Alan Barker, University of Nottingham. Alan has a proven record in defending the democracy of our union, defending the right of branches to bring motions ruled in order to congress in 2018 when he chaired congress business committee. He will always support a member-led union.

If you are an FE Midlands member, please support Dharminder Chuhan (Sandwell College). Dom, who is West Midlands UCU Black Members rep is an excellent organiser – the successes at Sandwell are in part driven by his meticulousness in canvassing and speaking to members, and his principles in always being led by the branch as an officer.

Whoever you vote for, make sure you vote!

Blog: https://100milesfromthesea.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @illdoitanyway Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rhiannon4NEC

Ed D Blog 4: Methodology to method – sketching out the research for pandemic and post-pandemic FE

Looking into the future?

View to the path ahead from a lockdown walk in Buckpool nature reserve. It is lit up, and the light obscures the path.

In the last blog in this sequence, I want to outline and assess what methods will best facilitate the research I want to do. There are a number of issues to consider here. The first set of issues are of context: what will be permitted, and what will be imagined, in terms of what research looks like post-pandemic? Secondly, how do I utilise the research process as something which feeds into the “something-to-be-done”, the reflexive collaboration which is a part of as well as a documentation of the contest over the borders of what FE of the future is, who has agency within it, and who it is available to? Thirdly, issues of power, agency and capital in knowledge production and distribution. How will my methods democratise the research relationship? How can I best establish participant agency in research decisions, and establish a critical framework and structure? What does ethical, emancipatory post-pandemic education research look like?

In terms of what fora a research space might operate in, face-to-face research is currently suspended. It seems sensible to assume that for at least the next year it may not be sanctioned and where it is, may still be unethical. Under lockdown, social distance is a capital: for retail workers, delivery drivers, care and NHS staff, air is a shared and therefore biologically uncertain commodity. In the continued supply and handover of goods, touch is too repetitive a part of the exchange process to be under control and barriers are placebo more than protection. In care, physical intimacy is sheathed by patchy PPE. The governmental messaging has identified work from home as a privilege for those who “can”: the wheels of the economy may crush thousands unable to work from home as part of the “return to normal”. This being the case, there is a responsibility to build virtual research space and think carefully about how safety beyond the physical can be accommodated. What platforms are likely to facilitate consensual and democratic research? How can participants and data be protected in uncertain online meeting spaces, where shadowy rumours of predatory intrusions, surveillance and breeches persist?

In this context, what does research-as-activism (as well as into-activism) look like? A key perspective to learn from in trying to frame this is decolonial intersectionality (Kurtis and Adams, 2017): being mindful that oppressed voices are a source of expertise rather than a victim/object for study within the research process; moving beyond “monolithic conceptions” (Kurtis and Adams, 2017) of experience to instead locate experience in a web of multiple, intersecting power relations. In researching the contested boundaries of FE, I hope to frame this within an understanding of power and agency as intersecting and multiple. As Dennis (2015) notes, in the context of FE research, online spaces have the capacity to nurture dissent but also to reproduce existing “silences” (or the performed absence of dissent?), and it can be hypothesised that as online spaces are colonised in a post-pandemic FE, these silences may broaden. There is a tension between facilitating dissent, and doing this in a way which is secure without being neutralising.

Blogging appears to allow a number of advantages as a method. In recounting research using critical story blogs, Luschen (2014) notes the opportunity this gives for participant exploration of “educational hopes and experiences” facilitating both personal reflection and collective interaction, giving insight into community and mutuality in learning spaces. Supplying what Luschen refers to as prompts for bloggers to respond to will mean, similar to this principle in physical listening rooms (Heron, 2018), that a loose structure can be crafted to facilitate a critical framework with inter-participant friendship rather than the researcher/subject relationship as a methodological driver.

There are a number of problems to consider here. In a developing context of digital capital, and reflecting on the principles of decolonial intersectionality (Kurtis and Adams, 2017), what work needs to be done to ensure that marginalised voices can be heard? If I think of the migrant low-paid worker student as a key feature but a muffled voice of FE, how do I amplify this voice in the context of the oppressive barriers of material, time and digital poverty this student faces? There is a need to recognise my privilege as a white academic, acknowledging and responding to being part of a system these students are excluded from. Luschen (2014) notes that the digital story brings its own vulnerabilities, encouraging disclosure and articulation of trauma. There is a need to plan for rather than react to this as a possibility, and work to be done as to how to amplify oppressive experiences without exploitation of participants for academia.

In terms of prompts, one possibility within the blog framework is the use of self-directed walking video interviews. For Evans and Jones (2011), walking interviews allow intimacy in looking into both place and self. Given my interest in how place and time figure in the borders of FE, walking interviews (albeit virtually facilitated?) may be useful in allowing participants to engage with learning environments. They may capture the developing arenas of FE post-pandemic: the domestic, the extended thought space, and dependent on how things develop, the physical learning spaces of institutions. There are a number of caveats, of course: as Evans and Jones identify, the use of video may pose technical complications, and the multiple work of walking, talking and using the camera may create visual and cognitive disorientation. Nevertheless, the method provides an opportunity to evoke and analyse how personal learning spaces feature in and map against the physical and ideological boundaries of FE.

Another possible prompt is the self-selected artefact. As Yang (2017) has demonstrated, participatory visual methods may be particularly useful in research into adult and continuing education. This approach mirrors the emancipatory pedagogy of Freire (1970) and hooks (2009) in facilitating agency in knowledge construction in a way that may be more accessible for than dense text. Facilitating participants in engagement with self-chosen physical artefacts may support valuable reflection on their historical experiences of the contested borders of FE, whether in terms of obstacles in accessing education, or the battles fought over the sector more broadly.

As government and education leaders push a return to a (new) normal where business as usual is prioritised and educational access is considered in the context of brand and recruitment, there is a counter-movement of marginalised voices calling loudly and clearly for space to speak and develop knowledge. This transcends the kyriarchal (Schussler-Fiorenza, 1995) forces which form the very structure of FE and HE. The methodology appropriate to this struggle over the boundaries of knowledge and education post-pandemic is in germination; politically, the appropriate action is to listen and amplify.

 

References

 

Dennis, C., 2015. Locating post-16 professionalism: public spaces as dissenting spaces. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 20(1), pp.64-77.

Evans, J. and Jones, P., 2011. The walking interview: Methodology, mobility and place. Applied Geography, 31(2), pp.849-858.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Continuum.

 

Heron, E., 2019. Friendship as method: reflections on a new approach to understanding student experiences in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(3), pp.393-407.

hooks, b. (2009). Teaching critical thinking: practical wisdom. Abingdon: Routledge.

Kurtis, T. and Adams, G., 2017. Decolonial intersectionality: implications for theory, research and pedagogy. In: K. Case, ed., Intersectional Pedagogy: complicating identity and social justice. London: Routledge.

Luschen, K., 2014. Exploring (Dis)Connections Through Digital Storytelling: Towards Pedagogies of Critical Co-Learning. In: K. Luschen, ed., Crafting Critical Stories: Towards Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion and Voice. Oxford: Peter Lang.

Schüssler Fiorenza, E., 1995. Feminist studies in religion and a radical democratic ethos 1. Religion and Theology, 2(2), pp.122-144.

Yang, K., 2017. Situating Participatory Visual Methods in Adult Education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2017(154), pp.9-16.

Ed D Blog 3: Margins and new territories in post-pandemic FE – democracy, responsibilities, and critical frames

Layering of domestic and educational space

The household and the workspace collapsed together: a view from my “desk”

In formulating my research methodology, I aim to map the contested margins of FE: the contest over access to and transition into educational space and how this is experienced by students traditionally shut out of education, and the activists (students and workers) who contest these borders. In this third blog, I want to think about issues of power and knowledge: the power dynamic of the researcher/researched, issues of democracy and “ownership” of knowledge production and distribution, and what I as a researcher conceptualise as being the “truth” in the experiences of education I aim to evoke and document. All of this is shaped by the uncertain seas of lockdown and the deeper structural forces of racial capitalism, neoliberalism, and heteropatriarchy.

I perch on the end of my bed, feet next to a basket of clean washing ready for putting away, laptop balanced on my knee. I open a window taking me to a student’s kitchen table where she sits with her mug and smiles through at me, cereal boxes and jars balanced on a shelf behind her, a toy on the table. In the next room my daughter is curled up in her bed with her phone, watching BBC bitesize videos and sneaking Roblox games. My son lies on his bedroom floor, leafing through a textbook and checking wattsapp messages. Downstairs my partner sings as he makes coffee.

One key feature of education life under lockdown is our peeping into one another’s domestic spaces. This may be a primary feature of education research for some time to come, and will have echoes for what educational space looks like post-pandemic. For many adult returner students and education workers, the domestic space has always been colonised by the world of work, and learning has included the struggle to carve out time and space to think in the busy-ness and competing demands of the home. Now, in the pandemic, the cluttering between student, worker, parent, domestic-worker intensifies and divisions between tasks and territories blur. In the universalising if not democratic classrooms of our institutions we are afforded some anonymity. Now our interactions bring intimacy, as the cyber-windows on our living spaces open and close, each glimpse giving detail about the way power falls in and layers domestic space; the new cottage industries of learning.

This intimacy is not equal for lecturer/student or researcher/researched. What are the consequences for developing democratic research locations in pandemic and post-pandemic FE? In the absence of hierarchical education institutions, does cyberspace create a more level area for collaborative democratic research to take place? Or is it new territory to be colonised by existing power relations? For Dennis (2014), digital spaces allow reassertion of dissent and agency as features of FE, but also raise ethical questions through the blurring of public and private discourse. Researching the experiences of FE students and activists in digital spaces has the potential to leave a permanent trace: there is a need to facilitate a platform for critical reflection, but also a responsibility to protect the voices of those often facing a hostile environment.

There are other ethical issues to consider in whatever emerges as the research environment. In striving for what Hughes and Willinck (2014) refer to as co-reflexive critical dialogue, there is a need to recognise the expertise participants have in selecting and framing what is meaningful in their experiences of education. If education research is to be research-as as well as research-into activism, then the process should aim towards emancipatory practice as well as documentation. In naming and exploring the meaning education territories have for those who transgress into and occupy them, there is collaborative work to be done in exploring what the future shape of an education to be fought for might look like.

Our windows are not equal. Some students work from phones, devices vary in speed, application access, capacity. Participation is differentiated by digital capital in terms of hardware, software, skill, ability to access assistance. For students with no way of accessing the lockdown virtual world of the college or university, there is delay and the prospect of making up time (while socially distancing? with sterile equipment and PPE?) in partially-reopened institutions. For many students and education-workers, the home/work space is cluttered with chores, requests, the mess of domesticity and build-up of debris of condensed use of space. What Dunscombe and Marsden (1995) call the triple shift (of formal work, childcare/emotional labour, and domestic labour) is now happening competitively under one roof: a condensing of time and space without a proportionate reduction of demands, with lone mothers particularly vulnerable to the consequences of this workload (Zhou et al., 2020). We field demands for time, labour, emotional care and often simply a response to another’s question or comment as a donation of thought-space. There is increasing interruption to learning flow in increasingly condensed space. For many students and education workers, intersectionally layered by racialised class and heteronormative gender, the lockdown home may be an island in a chain of working spaces, labour in other environments (domestic work outside of the home, retail, care) continuing. This again has an impact on the time and mental energy available to “do” formal learning.

This has consequences for what the geography of learning spaces of the future as well as the present look like. Durham was the first university to publically opportunise the pandemic to push for permanent online learning (pushed back by resistance, for now) and the murmurs (Lefebvre, 2017) of senior management across FE and HE echo this. In an article for the TES on 22nd April Bedford College Group CEO Ian Pryce begins by reflecting on the lasting impact of his “classical” education in allowing him to make sense of the chaos of pandemic before going on to ponder over his previous belief that home-working disguises inefficiency, and reflect that

a lack of productivity is more easily disguised under the camouflage of office work. One outcome, therefore, may well be more home working but far fewer staff being employed… It is far easier to lose staff if they and their results are less visible”.

What does the “post-pandemic” mean for education? Some leaders will emphasise remote learning as a social leveller, allowing participation to transcend the barriers of physical attendance, childcare arrangements, time clashes with the employed shift pattern. On a simplistic level it works: one of the most radical interventions into the fortress of prestigious academia of the later 20th century was surely the OU, opening up the space for critical thought and the cultural capital of university qualifications to adult learners already engaged in working life (domestic and employed). However, what happens to the already casualised labour force of further and higher education in an incursion into online learning spaces? Invisibility, as pre-sensed by the Bedford principal, increases precariousness.

Chipping away and destabilising physical human interaction in learning could come at a great cost: as Smith and Duckworth (2020) identify, part of what makes colleges “engine rooms for social mobility and social justice” are the social relations they facilitate. Colleges undertake emotional labour in giving students self-belief. This comes in part as Smith and Duckworth note, through the teacher-student relationship. College life is intimate and stretches beyond the curricula in creating a shared “everyday” in which learning spaces can be collective, learning time is protected from other demands, and solidarity is forged. As Addo (2019) states, colleges exist as communities of human relations, so while buildings may be superfluous, intimacy of shared physical space is more central. For hooks (1994), it is in the shared space of the classroom that we have the co-existence of theory, self-recovery and collective liberation. It is difficult to imagine how this crucial feature of FE will persist in scaled-down virtual spaces in which protected time and social space-sharing is eroded. Without physical classroom spaces, learning for students at the margins of education may increasingly mean atomised negotiation for the time and space to think amidst the crowding of other daily demands.

If the process of learning involves having physical space to move around, to process, to develop “flow”, under racial capitalism, the learning environment beyond the college or university is already shaped by what Danewid (2019) has described as the “inherently global and colonial… violence of neoliberal urbanism”. This has surely intensified in the “geography of containment” (Crenshaw, 2020) of the pandemic, the inequalities of access to and policing of use of outdoor space.

Access to education includes access to the mental space to think, and to some extent, this maps onto the physical landscapes we live and move around in. Having already discussed the multi-layering of tasks and crowding of demands for cognitive labour in the problematic current lived space (and possible post-pandemic space) of the “household”, it is worthwhile also thinking about how this extends into wider territories. Like the home the wider lived environment is not neutral: there is a cognitive as well as material capital in having access to green space, freedom to walk unchallenged in places quiet and untroubled enough to induce reflection. Whilst trying to avoid romanticisation of oppression, arguably the impact of noise and risk create more urgent insights into what access to education means and what it may be fraught by in terms of whatever emerges post-pandemic. My task is developing research practices to develop a critical framework which facilitates this urgency in imagining and contesting the future in what access to participation in education looks like from the borders and margins.

References

Addo, J., 2019. Hello, who am I? – The Change Agent or the Game Player of Performativity?. In: P. Bennett and R. Smith, ed., Identity and Resistance in Further Education. London: Routledge.

Crenshaw, K., 2020. Under The Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities That COVID Lays Bare. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoFGUrkGbmo&gt; [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Danewid, I., 2019. The fire this time: Grenfell, racial capitalism and the urbanisation of empire. European Journal of International Relations, 26(1), pp.289-313.

Dennis, C., 2015. Locating post-16 professionalism: public spaces as dissenting spaces. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 20(1), pp.64-77.

Duncombe, J. and Marsden, D., 1995. ‘Workaholics’ and ‘Whingeing Women’: Theorising Intimacy and Emotion Work — The Last Frontier of Gender Inequality?. The Sociological Review, 43(1), pp.150-169.

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress. Abingdon: Routledge.

 

Hughes, S. and Willinck, K., 2014. Engaging co-reflexive critical dialogues when entering and leaving the “field”: towards collaborative research methods at the color line and beyond. In: J. Carmona and K. Luschen, ed., Crafting Critical Stories: Towards Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion and Voice. Oxford: Peter Lang.

McKie, A., 2020. Durham VC moves to clarify plans for online learning. THE, [online] Available at: <https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/durham-v-c-moves-clarify-plans-online-learning&gt; [Accessed 11 May 2020].

Pryce, I., 2020. Could colleges have more home working and fewer staff?. TES, [online] Available at: <https://www.tes.com/news/could-colleges-have-more-home-working-and-fewer-staff&gt; [Accessed 4 May 2020].

Smith, R. and Duckworth, V., 2020. In Praise Of Further Education Colleges: Empowering Students Who Have Been Written Off. [online] The Conversation. Available at: <https://theconversation.com/in-praise-of-further-education-colleges-empowering-students-who-have-been-written-off-135391&gt; [Accessed 4 June 2020].

Zhou, M., Hertog, E., Kolpashnikova, K., & Kan, M. (2020). Gender inequalities: Changes in income, time use and well-being before and during the UK COVID-19 lockdown. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/u8yt

 

Ed D blog 2: the household, the street – boundary struggle, big data, stories and power

Breathing under lockdown?

My partner looks at some street art during a lockdown walk.

In the first blog, I attempted to locate the research I am engaging in through “listening in” to rhythms (Lefebvre, 2017): the pandemic everyday, the crisis tremors of FE, and the clamour-for-keyworkers in the context of an imagined future FE. To continue, I want to think about space, domestic and public, and how it is inhabited and can be mapped.

Lorde (2017) directs us to the urgency of the thinking snatched in the domestic. For Crenshaw (2020), there is a pressing need to consider the geographies of pandemic-containment. There is a danger for women, for non-binary and LGBT+ people, in the enforced intimacy of the “household” as the state-prescribed living unit of pandemic, which has been discussed in a series of blogs by Grewal, Hemmings, Sabsay and Tudor (2020). Education work under a pandemic takes place for a large number in the “household”: an imagined as well as real space. This space is demarked by the boundaries of the heteronormative, the nuclear; a narrative of this place as haven does much to mask the relations that transgress those prescribed by the state, and to hide the violence done within confined walls.

I read about the leap in domestic danger and death (Bradbury-Jones and Isham, 2020), and my heart beats faster, an echo of the faster heartbeat of those trapped in state-endorsed spaces being paced by predators. For students (and colleagues) in my life as an access lecturer domestic violence, not always historical, was a reality driving the journey into education. I wonder how many of the bodies counted could have been future students and education workers. While I am snatching reading time to work on this assignment, I hear loud shouts. A man appears over the road with a bar, threatens a woman on a doorstep, and from my own doorstep I shout to him that I will call the police if he does not stop. He threatens me and leaves while I tell a confused phone operator about an event he eventually decides has already been reported.

I become conscious in the moment and after that my response has been a white feminist response. I have done it to physically remove a (white) threatening man, from a distance, but my Black partner now beside me in front of our home is reminding me of the threat police bring to the streets: for James Baldwin, the hired enemies of Black people. I’m reminded of the standard I want to reach for, of the need to strive for decolonial intersectionality (Kurtis and Adams, 2017); to prioritise listening over speaking. I have acted on privilege (in terms of how I as a white woman am situated in relation to the police) in the moment, and it could have caused harm.

In Manchester, Desmond Mombeyrara is tazered by police in front of his toddler. In Birmingham, an enquiry opens into police use of excessive force against Black males. In New York, a white woman calls police and quickening her breath to perform an assault after a Black man tells her to leash her dog around birds.

In Minneapolis, a recurring scene plays out. George Floyd calls for his mother, crying out that he cannot breath, as he is murdered by police. A city erupts and the tremors reach out across the world.

This spectre could be considered a haunting, to use Gordon (2011)’s notion of haunting as both the recurring emergence of racial social violence, and the simultaneous urgency for social change as a response. George Floyd evokes Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Natasha McKenna. The haunting is not just taking place across the Atlantic; it reverberates here in Mombeyrara, Rashan Charles, Sarah Reed, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell. As a number of critical race theorists including Priyamvada Gopal have identified in social media commentary, all of these spectres evoke Frantz Fanon’s (1970) words that often when revolt happens it comes from the inability to breathe.

Why does this matter for research into the struggle over the boundaries and entry points of education? Firstly, because education is resistance as well as state socialisation. Emancipatory pedagogy speaks to Gordon’s (2011) “something-to-be done”. Also, because the violence of education and the violence of policing interconnect. Police brutality is a reverberation of what Bourdieu, Passeron et al. (1977) refer to as the symbolic violence of education in the lines of prevention, exclusion, expulsion. The right to breath is the right to live free from police violence, but also the right to free participation in education as part of participation in a democratic society, to (breathe in) existing knowledge and (breathe out) produce known understanding of what the world is and how it works. Currently, the curricula markers of cultural difference which push racial containment such as Prevent and British Values are in suspense. The metrics of examination are also suspended, which as Fautley (2020) notes in his blog brings a potential de-legitimisation of these neoliberal systems of ranking as appropriate to learning. However, as Patel (2020) has outlined in his decolonial education blog The Teacherist, this also removes the (partial) cultural blindfold of the examiner, leaving student performance to be estimated by a teacher with all of the bias this entails.

There is a tension in the pursuit of social justice between big data and the critical interrogation of human experience. Data shows us the disproportionate BAME Covid death rate, the doubling of femicide, the disproportionate charging of Black people with lockdown violations while the country is travelled with impunity by the PM’s closest ally. Big data sketch out otherwise intangible structures of power and oppression, the skeletal form of how violence and persecution fall under a pandemic. On an intimate level, there are stories. In a racist attack, TSSA member Belly Mujinga is spat at by a man claiming he is infected with Covid. She reports it to her bosses and is ignored. She dies.

My position as a researcher in considering this mesh between statistics and stories is shaped by my journey as a lecturer up to this point. I have worked primarily with adult returner students at level 3, teaching social sciences. This, combined with my engagement in education activism as a trade unionist and campaigner, has formed and reinforced my perspective as grounded in critical theory (trying to learn from feminism, Marxism, intersectionality, antiracism) and emancipatory pedagogy. But to have a way of talking about power as something with a bigger form across our interactions in my experience as teacher necessitates some recourse to statistics, even while these must be open to deconstruction. Feminist methodology (e.g. Childers, Rhee and Daza, 2015) cautions against the privileging of the positivist approach, the placing of statistics shaped by the power positions of those who produce, select and distribute them at the top of a hierarchy of knowing the world. Gillborn, Warmington and Demack (2017) identify quantitative claims of objectivity as a site for obfuscation of racist coding practices. Further, emancipatory pedagogy demands a critical approach to knowledge and authority claims. Lather (2006) discusses the nature of power and the struggle for legitimacy, arguing that increasingly plural methodologies shift the ground underneath the traditional “monolithic oppostions” of positivism and interpretism, leaving in place diversification. As Gillborn et al. (2017) suggest, big data should not occupy a position of unchallenged authority: its value comes from its use in a struggle for justice.

Echoing through both big data and the personal story are power and resistance.

 

References

BBC News. 2020. Disproportionate Number Of BAME People Fined. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-52905787&gt; [Accessed 3 June 2020].

Bourdieu, P., Passeron, J., Nice, R., Bourdieu, P. and Bottomore, T. (1977). Reproduction in education, society, and culture. London: SAGE publications.

Bradbury‐Jones, C. and Isham, L., 2020. The pandemic paradox: The consequences of COVID‐19 on domestic violence. Journal of Clinical Nursing,.

Childers, S., Daza, S. and Rhee, J., 2015. Promiscuous Feminist Methodologies In Education. London: Routledge.

Crenshaw, K., 2020. Under The Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities That COVID Lays Bare. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoFGUrkGbmo&gt; [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Fanon, F., 1970. Black Skin, White Masks London: Paladin.

Fautley, M., 2020. Grading And Standards In Troubled Times. [online] drfautley. Available at: <https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/grading-and-standards-in-troubled-times/&gt; [Accessed 4 June 2020].

Gillborn, D., Warmington, P. and Demack, S., 2017. QuantCrit: education, policy, ‘Big Data’ and principles for a critical race theory of statistics. Race Ethnicity and Education, 21(2), pp.158-179.

Gordon, A., 2011. Ghostly Matters. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Grewal, K., Hemmings, C., Sabsay, L., and Tudor, A., 2020. Confronting ‘The Household’. [Blog] Feminist Review, Available at: <https://femrev.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/confronting-the-household/&gt; [Accessed 27 May 2020].

Grierson, J., 2020. Domestic abuse killings ‘more than double’ amid Covid-19 lockdown. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/15/domestic-abuse-killings-more-than-double-amid-covid-19-lockdown&gt; [Accessed 18 April 2020].

Keeling, N., 2020. Police watchdog launches investigation after man tasered in front of young child at petrol station. Manchester Evening News, [online] Available at: <https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/police-watchdog-launches-investigation-after-18250259&gt; [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Kurtis, T. and Adams, G., 2017. Decolonial intersectionality: implications for theory, research and pedagogy. In: K. Case, ed., Intersectional Pedagogy: complicating identity and social justice. London: Routledge.

Lather, P., 2006. Paradigm proliferation as a good thing to think with: teaching research in education as a wild profusion, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19:1, 35-57

Lefebvre, H., 2017. Rhythmanalysis. London: Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Lorde, A. (2017). Your silence will not protect you. London: Silver Press.

McDonald, H., 2020. IOPC launches investigation after alleged police brutality in Birmingham. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/29/iopc-launches-investigation-into-alleged-police-brutality-in-birmingham&gt; [Accessed 29 May 2020].

Office for National Statistics, 2020. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Related Deaths By Ethnic Group, England And Wales: 2 March 2020 To 10 April 2020. [online] Office for National Statistics. Available at: <https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronavirusrelateddeathsbyethnicgroupenglandandwales/2march2020to10april2020&gt; [Accessed 20 May 2020].

Patel, P., 2020. GCSE and A-Level Grades 2020. [Blog] The Teacherist, Available at: <https://theteacherist.com/2020/04/19/gcse-and-a-level-grades-2020/&gt; [Accessed 20 April 2020].

Weaver, M. and Dodd, V., 2020. UK rail worker dies of coronavirus after being spat at while on duty. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/12/uk-rail-worker-dies-coronavirus-spat-belly-mujinga&gt; [Accessed 14 May 2020].

Ed D Blog 1: Listening in – crisis, time and space in a pandemic

On 23rd March 2020, the UK went into lockdown in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. As an early doctoral researcher, I am using this sequence of four blogs to record my navigation of my research journey in this unsettled moment. It feels more like mapping a seascape than a landscape. There are institutional structures deep beneath the surface (“Education” “Pedagogy” “The College” “The University”), and the fluid, rhythmical tides and currents of power (government, educational leadership, colonialism, capitalism, nationalism, the hetero-patriarchy) – and counter-currents of resistance, strongest at their intersection (Crenshaw, 1988). But there is also the disorientation of an environment missing the familiarity of landmarks. We are all at sea.

In this first blog I aim to map where I am, what is happening around me, the disruptions of education including FE “as normal” and what these disruptions say to us. This will include locating my own “messy” perspective as a researcher (Mosselsohn, 2010), shaped by my journey up to this point as practitioner and activist, as well as the wider forces of theoretical and political influence around me. Using Lefebvre’s (2017) rhythmanalysis as a tool to guide the research process, certain questions emerge. What can we understand about further education (FE) based on what is revealed and what is hidden in a moment of crisis? When the “post-pandemic” education system starts to emerge, what form will it take? What does this mean for the students I have historically worked with, and for the research I want to undertake into the struggle for their access to the education system?

The pandemic appears to be a crisis point for FE, though it could also be argued that this is an intensification of existing crisis. Slater (2014) identifies the neoliberal practice of permanent reform in education as a “politics of crisis”, while Rouxel (2015) points to FE as being destabilised through crisis of professional identity and the problematic imposition of metrics, where educational value is equated with student quantitative performance. FE underwent incorporation in the early 90s. My experiences as an FE worker and activist from 2004 onwards have suggested FE is consistently insecure and unstable in terms of identity, purpose and funding. Feeding into this instability are inconsistent and often competing narratives about what FE is: FE is about second chances but recognises that it serves those failed by earlier faults in the wider education sector. FE is profoundly local in contrast to the cosmopolitan nature of HE, feeding into local economies and serving local communities: it must become more flexible but needs to restore the value of traditional skills and trades. FE is there to facilitate cultural integration and cohesion but colleges are in permanent competition and must strive for excellence in order to recruit enough students to fund the excellent provision they aim to deliver.

FE has an organic hunger for survival and solidarity. This has sustained an (admittedly dysfunctional) existence through decades of cuts, identity crisis, broader community vandalism and increasing inroads of “the market” into the schools which feed into the sector and the universities which feed from the sector. COVID-19 represents an historical crisis for FE but not a passage from tranquillity to storm. In the mid-2010s, the austerity government attempted to manage this crisis through engaging in FE commissioner led “FE area reviews” consulting those defined as stakeholders (business leaders, college leaders, LEPs) on how the sector could be pushed into practices of efficient co-working. Unions were grudgingly allowed a space to separately vocalise the view “from the ground” and repeatedly identified that co-working exists organically in the human connections (including unions) within the sector but also the impossibility of facilitating stable formal co-working in colleges pushed into a market. A number of mergers were pushed through. The expected financial re-stablilising and pragmatic co-working efficiency practices were not delivered.

In May 2020, FE week published leaked government plans for a White Report which admitted “recent attempts to financially stabilise the sector with an area review programme and restructuring funds totalling around half a billion pounds were deemed to have failed” and heralding radical plans to bring FE back into tighter governmental control. Interestingly, the leaked report used the language of “community”, re-emphasising the college as a community heart in contrast to the relationship-with and service-of business prioritised over the last decade of governmental statements on FE. It seems highly likely that under the current government any new “community focus” for FE is intended to feed into a greater discourse around localism, nation and Brexit rather than a deeper re-democratisation of college structures. But the ground is opened up further for contest.

Lefebvre (2017) instructs us that in historical moments, time can become quicker or slower, move forwards or backwards. The rhythmanalyist, he says, notes this, listening in to the interweavings of secret and public rhythms: moving beyond what is seen to what is sensed and discarded in the conventional measurement of phenomena.

In the moment of pandemic, thinking about the roles I inhabit (former FE lecturer, current HE lecturer, mother, trade unionist, future FE researcher) I try to listen in. What are the rhythms of life in lockdown? On Thursday nights my daughter counts-down, appearing periodically to announce the time left. At 8pm we take to the doorstep (are doorsteps our equivalent to Lefebvre’s balcony, in giving us the distance of a viewing point of the quiet roads we oversee?), and clap-for-carers, including my children’s father who they have not seen or touched for 2 months. My daughter’s hands come together and part until they are red and sore: her little hands touching themselves in the absence of a father’s hand to hold and sooth. Around the cycle of VE celebrations, big band and Vera Lynn blast out. The rhythms of celebration of the saving and nurturing of life have blended with the fanfares celebrating the taking of life, all intermixed with a silent nod to Nation.

My daughter’s father, like many keyworkers, came back to education as an adult. What does this weekly clamour mean for the students and education workers I have worked with historically in FE and plan to engage in research? FE and its contributions are poorly valued and understood (Bennett and Smith, 2019). The adult returner students I have worked with follow pathways into what are now called “key worker” roles. Before reaching college, these students (like Lefebvre) often already listen into and respond to physical rhythms beyond the visual metrics that will be brought to the foreground in their formal education. They read touch, speak soft reassurances, sense through smell the need for toileting or changing, decode cries from not just pitch but rhythm and the gaps in between. Will this clap-for-carers, this ceremony of national gratitude, translate into a revaluing of these students? Does the clap signify for FE a new respect for these embryonic nurses, teachers, social workers, and their experience in calming, soothing, and guiding their children, patients, elders?

I listen in also to the rhythms of union work. My weeks are punctuated cyclically by meetings with management. Survival of the worker (physical survival, and contractual survival) crashes against the language of institutional survival; softened speeches in defence of the neoliberal university, and what Dakka (2019) identifies as the “ambivalent relationship of academics, especially the elite, towards competition” as our post-92 leaders call on the government to intervene in the competition to retain the imagined fair market. There is a moratorium on unconditional offers. The future remains destabilised. We draw and reinforce lines of resistance, interconnect our existence as workers into hundreds of home/work spaces.

Drifting in and out of our shared work-space I hear my partner receiving and transmitting training and organising to keep schools places of distance: the threat is more immediate for colleges than universities, and more again for schools than colleges. Union leaders are paraded as pantomime villains plotting, “the blob”. It is deadly farce.

Elsewhere, in other virtual spaces, I guide reps at the college I left behind and join meetings to bring together different branches, different unions, parents with workers. While these take place virtually, our discussions consider repeatedly the threat of physical intimacy. Spaces between bodies, the screening and containment of breath and the moisture it carries. Breath, its disruption and blockage, will become an increasingly urgent demand as the pandemic continues to unfold.

 

References

Bennett, P. and Smith, R., 2019. Identity and resistance in Further Education: Routledge.

Crenshaw, K., 1988. Race, Reform, And Retrenchment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Law Review Association.

Dakka, F., 2019. Competition, innovation and diversity in higher education: dominant discourses, paradoxes and resistance. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 41(1), pp.80-94.

Department for Education, 2019. Area Review: End Of Program Report. London: HM government.

Lefebvre, H., 2017. Rhythmanalysis. London: Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Linford, N., 2020. Government to take ownership of colleges. FE week, [online] Available at: <https://feweek.co.uk/2020/05/07/government-to-take-ownership-of-colleges/&gt; [Accessed 10 May 2020].

Mosselson, J., 2010. Subjectivity and reflexivity: locating the self in research on dislocation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 23(4), pp.479-494.

Rouxel, D., 2015. Dancing in plain sight. In: M. Daley, K. Orr and J. Petrie, ed., Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Croydon: Institute of Education Press, pp.131-137.

Slater, G., 2014. Education as recovery: neoliberalism, school reform, and the politics of crisis. Journal of Education Policy, 30(1), pp.1-20.

Lockdown rhythms

My daughter on a lockdown walk, thinking about something we (and maybe she) cannot see

Endorsements for my #UCUNEC campaign

Nita Sanghera, late president elect and first UCU black presidential officer:

Rhiannon is an amazing woman, mother, activist and of course teachershe will knock UCU into shape by being her fabulous self. She has my complete support.

Sue Abbott, UCU elected national equality chair and chair of UCU national Women Members’ Standing Committee:

I have worked with Rhiannon for several years on the national women’s committee and have attended the Women’s TUC with her as well. Rhiannon is passionate about women’s rights and has made amazing speeches both at women’s TUC and at Union congress that inspire others to follow her lead. I fully support Rhiannon as I know she will be dedicated and committed to all and particularly to women in our union.

Dave Muritu, former UCU National Equality chair, former chair national black members standing committee, former branch secretary Sandwell College:

Vote Rhiannon for Women’s officer.  She is a tireless fighter for equality often pushing UCU on policy to support oppressed groups.  She has always been committed to transparency and placing members views at the centre of her work, reporting to the membership regularly on her voting positions and her activities in the name of the union.  Rhiannon has consistently supported members taking action, delivering solidarity to picket lines across the country.

Emma Fisher, former Access student:

As a former access student , I had the privilege to be taught by Rhiannon. Rhiannon not only taught me the academic content of my course, she also made me aware and inspired me to both acknowledge and challenge many inequalities and barriers to learning for many students. I have seen Rhiannon dedicate her life to fight tirelessly for many causes which affect many minority and marginalised groups both locally and globally. Rhiannon gives her heart and soul into any campaign in which she embarks on, highlighting issues and finding effective solutions. To have Rhiannon on board any team, panel or board would implement positive action with maximum effect.

Ioana Cerasella Chis – University of Birmingham UCU Committee Member, University of Birmingham UNISON Membership Officer, Doctoral Student.

I am particularly grateful for and impressed by Rhiannon’s commitment to doing everything in her power to be an ally to those who are fighting for improved working, learning and living conditions. These are not just empty words – I have seen Rhiannon being a fierce and consistent supporter of the campaigns and strikes that have taken place at the University of Birmingham over the past few years – be they organised by UCU, UNISON, or activist student groups. She has made every effort to offer advice, spread the word about our various campaigns, and travel to our campus (despite not being based here) to speak at rallies and be with us on the picket lines.

I cannot stress enough just how important it is that our NEC members use their initiative to build bridges with struggles that may appear to be outside of our union’s own struggle. Rhiannon is committed, politically astute, and (according to a former student of hers and friend of mine) a truly supportive teacher and mentor. Finally, Rhiannon has the experience of working both in further education and higher education, and she is now also undertaking a doctoral degree.

We need Rhiannon’s experience, approach, and practice of solidarity to be part of our union’s NEC. I urge you to vote for her.

Laura Such, branch Secretary, Halesowen College

Having worked with Rhiannon during her time as Branch Secretary at Halesowen College she never ceased to amaze me. Rhiannon regularly communicated with the branch on our local issues and national campaigns; regularly fighting the fight on a picket line or representing us at regional meetings and national Congress.

I sat with her in staff council meetings as she raised the collective concerns on behalf of members in a calm and collected way, but when the need arose she would fight for us! Rhiannons’s door was always open… if you could find her behind the bags of donations for the women’s refuge. When Rhiannon left Halesowen there was a big void. Her tireless campaigning inspired me to try and take on her legacy. Anytime I have a question or problem she is there to advise and mentor me, despite lecturing, being her own Branch Secretary, undertaking a doctorate, being an amazing single mum to two great kids, swimming for refugees and campaigning for the labour party!

Although it’s a HE seat members at Halesowen College fully supported Rhiannon’s nomination, and all FE members can vote for all of the women’s seats. I urge all members to vote for this truly inspirational superwoman.

Julia Roberts, NEC (London FE), Branch Secretary Lambeth College UCU

My name is Julia Roberts, and I am Branch Secretary of Lambeth College UCU.  I am also an FE representative on the NEC for London and the East.

 

I urge you to vote for Rhiannon Lockley as Women Members’ Representative (HE).  I have known and worked alongsideRhiannon for over five years.  She has unfailingly proved herself to be a hardworking and dedicated union activist.

 

Rhiannon and I first met in 2014 when the Lambeth College branch was taking indefinite strike action over a proposeddegradation of contracts.  Rhiannon played a key role in our West Midlands support base.  She was instrumental in providing practical and moral support throughout our campaign.  Throughout the time I have known her, Rhiannon has always stepped forward to support members under attack in the workplace whether as individuals or branches taking industrial action.

 

Rhiannon and I have also worked together on the NEC.  Rhiannon has consistently highlighted injustices outside of, as well as inside, the workplace, and has in particular been a strong campaigner on behalf of the disadvantaged and vulnerable within our communities.  Women’s issues have always been to the fore and Rhiannon will be an energetic and committed women’s representative.

 

PLUS SHE HAS TWO VERY GORGEOUS CATS CALLED RONNIE AND REGGIE WHO WILL DO YOU IN IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR HER.

James Brackley, University of Birmingham UCU

Throughout my time as an officer, my UCU branch at the University of Birmingham has received tireless support across many meetings, protests, and pickets from Rhiannon who is one of the leading activists and trade unionist in our city.

She has played a crucial role in developing young members and in linking together the fight for equality across the education unions, always giving support and guidance where it is most needed. She is extremely knowledgeable of both FE and HE, a really effective organiser, and always so passionate about everything she does.

She is a pleasure to work with and I’m certain she will be an asset to the union on the NEC. Please make sure you give her your vote!

Andrew Scattergood, West Midlands regional Secretary, FBU

I have had the privilege of knowing Rhiannon a number of years. She is well respected and well like within the wider labour movement and I’m honoured to call her a friend. Her tireless campaigning and standing up against injustice is second to none. When firefighters have been fighting our own battles, Rhiannon has always been right by our side standing shoulder to shoulder and has represented the UCU impeccably. The FBU are grateful for her support and solidarity. Rhiannon’s professionalism, on top of her energy and passion, mean I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent UCU members on your NEC. The UCU is very lucky to have Rhiannon.

Kirsten Forkert, UCU NEC (Midlands) and branch co-chair, BCU UCU

“I’ve worked with Rhiannon Lockley on the West Midlands Regional Executive Committee and more recently as part of the branch at Birmingham City University. She is an excellent trade union activist and is committed to inclusive education. Rhiannong has an astute analysis of the power struggles in education, an imaginative approach to campaigning and organising and a principled commitment to equality. These are all qualities our union needs right now and she would have much to offer as a a member of the National Executive Committee.”

Cllr Louise Gibbard, Swansea (former Branch Secretary Halesowen College UCU)

I’ve known Rhiannon for almost 15 years first as a colleague, then a union comrade and lasting friend. I feel privileged to have witnessed her growth as an activist over this period and she is an endless source of inspiration to me both politically and personally.

Her commitment to the issues and people about which she is passionate knows no bounds. She feels so deeply about what she believes in, but importantly it is always backed up by thorough knowledge and understanding of the facts, theory and processes and she’s able to articulate this winning combination of emotion and information so well.

Her dedication to women’s rights in particular, both in the workplace and in wider society, is a perfect example of this. She draws on her own experiences as a working mother, but also acts as an amplifier for other women’s voices from a wide range of backgrounds. She’s the true embodiment of an intersectional feminist. From reproductive rights and childcare to domestic violence and the hostile environment, she is a real warrior for equality and there is no one I would rather have fighting for me in boardrooms with management or on the streets at protests and rallies.

Jane Inskip, prison members rep in the West Midlands

Rhiannon is the epitome of solidarity and this is why I’m supporting her for the NEC. Most people recognise that Education should be from the cradle to the grave but less consider those whose access to Education is behind bars. Rhiannon has been an ally for those who live and work behind the walls. She not only recognises the difficulties we face but amplifies our voice when the nature of our work often silences us.

Rhiannon knows that our students are your students, that we are you and that your union is our union. I have confidence that she will continue to fight for Prison Educators, ensuring that we have safe, decent conditions and that we are heard. Vote Rhiannon!

Cheryl Hedges, Vice Chair UCU West Midlands

I have known Rhiannon for 3 years both as a colleague in the HE/FE sector and as an activist at West Midlands Regional UCU.

 

Rhiannon is totally committed to equality and social justice. This is reflected in her practice in the classroom and in her relationships with students and colleagues. She is always ready to support colleagues on issues of injustice and discrimination. She works collaboratively and inclusively including encouraging me in my union work. She went beyond my expectations in supporting me at my first congress last year, including me in discussions and providing a commentary on debates.  She is totally committed to the idea that education can change one`s life chances and it is this that is the engine that drives her on. She is kind, thoughtful and tender. I have worked with students at HE level who carry this admiration with them from her work with them in FE. 

 

She is well organised and is able to plan and reflect on a number of actions at any one time.  Her campaigning in the region has been brilliant including the campaign against the closure of Stourbridge college last year. She has done much to improve the representation and participation of women, including myself, within the union. Campaigning with her fills you with confidence and trust. She is a loyal and reliable member of the union who will make a brilliant advocate for all members in her position on the NEC. 

 

I fully support her candidature for NEC and know that she will work in the  interests of all members in all levels of  UCU.

Martin Bradbury, West Midlands ACE member

Rhiannon Lockley is an experienced and highly competent educator and labour activist. I was taught psychology by her during my time as a mature student on the Access to Higher Education programme at Halesowen College between September 2010 and June 2012. She was always an excellent facilitator of group discussions and engaging in her presentation of psychological theories. Later, whist studying for my PGCE at Birmingham City University in 2018-2019  Iobserved her teaching sociology, once again at Halesowen College. I can without reservation say that Rhiannon Lockley is an activist who takes intellectual questions seriously and is an advocate for positions which are progressive and forward thinking. Her work in UCU has demonstrated her commitment to the workers movement and the broader community in Halesowen and the Black Country area generally. In the time that I have known Rhiannon she has consistently advocated for a feminist working class perspective and I believe that she would be excellent in the role of Women’s Officer.

Myka Tucker-Abramson, chair, Warwick UCU

Rhiannon is a fierce and committed trade unionist, feminist, and anti-racist activist and organiser, and has been a particularly important presence in the West Midlands regional UCU.  Based in Birmingham, she would also bring more of our regional perspective to national. Finally, she is a trans-inclusive feminist which is very important in these elections.

Vote Rhiannon for HE women’s rep, UCU NEC

With Nita Sanghera and Dave Muritu at the start of UCU congress 2018.

UCU Vice President, NEC and trustee elections open on 31st January and close on 4th March 2020. I am standing for a women’s HE seat and supporting UCU left candidates for a union which is member-led and has equality issues at its centre: exactly how these two, my gritty, vivacious sister Nita Sanghera (and of course my partner Dave Muritu) always fought for it to be.

What I stand for:

 

Equality belongs at the heart of our union. 

I’m energised by the determination of our pickets this winter and support the centralisation of equality and casualisation in our disputes: this has been hard-fought for my left activists over a long period of time and must not be abandoned. As as NEC member I will always speak for our most vulnerable members and hold leadership to account.

We must build from this and fight for an education system which values all of us: we have to dismantle the hierarchies which trap women, disabled workers, LGBT+ workers, Black and migrant workers at the bottom with lowest pay and least security. 

We must end the practice of shutting down dissenting voices and strike leaders from our most marginalised workers.

We must defend educational access for all. 

I’m a lone parent, a foundation year lecturer and a doctoral researcher at BCU. 

I work with amazing studentsin health, education and life sciences, whilst studying the journeys of working class adult students. My background prior to HE is Access education: I am proud of my FE roots.

I am a Labour Party member, an antifascist, and a feminist influenced by intersectional feminism and Marxism. 

I am a UCU left backed candidate: this means I will support member-leadership, industrial action, and centralising equality in UCU decision-making. In my previous time on NEC I worked hard to ensure I was accessible to members, attending regional meetings and sending full reports on meetings and my activity to support the union. If elected I will continue to report fully on meetings and engage transparently with members about how I vote.

 

 

My record:

In my time as a UCU activist I have consistently pushed our position on equality, repeatedly fighting for and winning the support of congress on issues which have faced opposition from conservative elements of the union. We must consistently stand with marginalised and oppressed groups.

I have won national UCU backing for policy on: 

 Trans rights;
 Sex worker rights;
 Equality strand officers on regional committees
 Intersectionality, including separate times for conferences for members from different equality groups

Reinforced commitment to: 

 Abortion rights;
 Adult education;
 ESOL;
 Challenging racism;
 The national education service;
 Defending migrants

 

It was an honour to play a central role in the election of UCUs first Black presidential candidate Nita Sangheraand I’m proud to have her endorsement. I did not know when I stood for NEC she would not be here with us. I want to do everything I can to live up to the belief she had in me.

 

I have been a branch officer for the last 8 years, steering and supporting through a period of catastrophic attacks on our communities and on education itself.

Branch representation: 

 Successfully challenged impact of timetabling on workload
 Introduced facility time
 Institutional commitment to UCU sexual harassment policy
 Support for refugees
 Support for DV training and services
 Extensive case work experience

I have led a branch through a local dispute over victimisation and through parallel pay disputes outside of national bargaining. 

I am active in the community and will always support mobilisations against attempts to intimidate.  My community record includes collectively driving the Trump funded anti-choice march for life out of Birmingham, organising large mobilisations against the bedroom tax and the DUP deal. I value working with student groups and sister unions.

 

 

Trade union service:

 

Branch Secretary: Halesowen College 2013-18; BCU 2019+

West Midlands Region: Women’s officer 2011-14, 2017-18, Chair 2014-17

Women Members Standing Committee: 2013-19

UCU Women’s Conference delegate: 2011-19

Women’s TUC delegate: 2014-18

NEC: 2017-19

TUC delegate: 2017-18


It is a privilege to represent members. If you elect me I will work hard with you to grow our union and honour that privilege. Whoever you vote for, please vote!

Blogged: No racism, no victimisation. Reinstate Dave Muritu. #ReinstateDave

On Wednesday 29th May, during the half term holiday, my partner Dave Muritu was summarily dismissed as a Maths lecturer by Sandwell College of Further and Higher Education, where a senior manager ruled that he was guilty of gross misconduct.

The gross misconduct in question was writing in pen, on a Prevent poster, the word “racist”. Although he owned up to having done it and apologised, this writing on a single piece of paper, according to the ruling manager, was “serious damage to college property”  the seriousness comprising of the “potential to bring the college into disrepute” and the use of “inappropriate language“ –  the word “racist”.

Without knowing any political dynamics of the college or Dave’s role there, it is easy to see that this is a disproportionate response. It is not an isolated response, but an act which fits into a pattern of disciplinary responses across the education system which sees black males around 3 times as likely to be permanently excluded compared with the average, and which also falls onto disciplining of black staff. This isn’t news to people in education: it’s taught as part of the sociology curriculum. But in the current climate of our colleges, it is not educationalists but corporate managers who run the show.

This act of sacking Dave does have a political context. Since Dave arrived at Sandwell College in 2013 the UCU branch he is secretary of has grown considerably. Collectively, the branch have achieved a number of victories. They’ve had pay increments put back after years of stasis, gained considerable extra holiday, and fought off punitive lesson policy. A branch is as strong as the will of its members, but with Dave’s enthusiastic organising approach along with hard work from numerous reps and activists, confidence and engagement has been growing and growing: not something which should be frightening to education managers, but in a funds-starved steeply hierarchical corporate model of education provision, the growth in confidence and union success has correlated with downward pressure on Dave as an individual and a branch officer. Last year the branch took 5 days of strike action, taking to the picket lines even during the Beast from the East, and won a sector leading pay deal of 6.5% across three years.

Dave wrote on the poster in a moment of frustration following some case-work relating to race where he felt a member was not being listened to by management. It is easy to come to the assumption that this act was characteristic of someone who must be reckless or easy to anger, a silly little act, but the reality is that out of the many many union reps I know, Dave has experienced some of the most extensive antagonism, bullying and attempted marginalisation by senior management over the years, and remains one of the calmest, most pragmatic and thick-skinned people I know. While as a white woman I have the luxury of being able to prickle and emote over any perceived injustice, to survive as a black activist and sustainable voice for others, Dave does not have that room. This one minor moment which he owned up to was one incident in years of self-discipline and skill in holding off victimisation.

If you are a black man who wants to speak up about injustice, there are strict rules which unconsciously shape survival. You had better not be too loud or deep-voiced, or you could come across as intimidating. You shouldn’t be too passionate trying to voice your frustrations or the things you believe in, or you could come across as aggressive. Choose your words carefully and maximise how articulate you sound, or you could sound like you are ignorant and lacking in education. Don’t sound too educated, or people will assume others are putting words into your mouth. Be patient and calm with the self-indulgent indignation your all-white senior management will need to go through whenever you raise an issue of race. Expect to be spoken over or repeatedly missed out from invitations to negotiations. In an environment where an all-white leadership can cultivate the ego to see the word “racist” as equivalent to personal abuse, which I think is a part of what has happened here, anything below perfection is a potential avenue for problems. 

There are other places where the issue of whether or not the Prevent strategy is racist can be discussed (although not Sandwell College of FHE under current leadership, clearly). It is notable that while Sandwell College senior management considered Dave’s case, the world was shaken by the Christchurch terror attack, where elderly people and children were among the Muslims slaughtered by an emboldened fascist, followed shortly by attacks on Mosques in Birmingham, some very close to West Bromwich. The New Zealand prime minister won praise for her compassionate and determined response to the Christchurch attack, stating to would-be attackers of the Muslim community in NZ “they are us”.

During this time, Dave worked with other trade unionists to reach out in the West Midlands and offer the support of educationists to the Muslim community. This was just the latest small part of a long service as an anti-racist activist which has seen him visit Calais to bring solidarity and supplies to migrants, marching with Grenfell survivors, physically standing in the way of fascists who seek to march through our streets to intimidate Muslims while being spat at and pelted with beer, as well as more formally drafting and moving countless motions to bring TUC and UCU resources and attention to anti-racist work. While Dave was engaged in solidarity work as a response to the Birmingham Mosque attacks, the senior leadership involved in his case were working themselves up over the shock and shame of a black man writing the word “racist” on a poster, and how to deliver the hardest possible response to this. To me, this is the decision of a leadership which is not only not listening to black staff and students about race, it is actively looking for ways to silence to topic being raised. It is the antithesis of what education should stand for. No challenge, no critical thought, no dissent, no compassion. Do not think, follow.

Sandwell College have an opportunity to turn around the terrible damage one of their senior managers has done to their reputation as a place for education, listening to one another and learning together. Dave must now be reinstated.

You can support Sandwell College branch who are now moving to ballot in response to Dave’s victimisation by

Dave is a determined trade unionist and equality activist, an extremely loving father and partner, and a dedicated Maths lecturer. Please give him your support.

Blogged: Union democracy, left organising, & the UCU GS candidates #VoteJoMc4GS

This week, ballots opened for the election of UCU general secretary, following Sally Hunt’s retirement on ill health. I differed politically from Sally on many issues and respected her on others: notably her commitment to internationalism and her tenacity in holding her own as a GS in a testosterone-flooded general council. Had she continued to fight on for another term, I would not have supported her, but I do not think it is helpful for the political problems of structures we come up against to be personalised and laid on individuals, however unhelpful their actions may be, and I am thankful for all that she put into the union in aiming to deliver what she believed in.

Three candidates are standing to replace her: Matt Waddup, a senior official in the union who is credited not least by himself for much of what was delivered under Sally’s leadership in recent years, Jo McNeill, the UCU left endorsed candidate who is branch president at Liverpool, a long term NEC member and national negotiator, and Dr Jo Grady, an industrial relations expert at Sheffield University with some experience in branch activism who is due to take a seat on the NEC for the first time following Congress. Broadly, we are looking at a continuity candidate who is an established manager of the union (Waddup), a seasoned activist who has played a key role in branch, regional and national mobilisation in favour of industrial action and member-leadership (McNeill), and an e-famous academic known for her high profile in the recent USS disputes and who specialises in industrial relations (Grady). I’ve written elsewhere about my admiration for Jo McNeill as an organiser, an activist, a sister and comrade. She’s a cancer survivor and an adult returner with educational participation at the heart of her work as well as her activism. Whenever I have needed Jo she has supported me, and the branch endorsements clocking up along with individual endorsements outline her history in organising on the ground in our union. However, more relevant to what I want to discuss, Jo McNeill is the only candidate to declare as being supported by an organised grouping (UCU left, the long-standing left organising body in the union) whilst the other two candidates have positioned themselves as independent or non-aligned.

For me a key democratic issue in elections is candidate transparency. I think the most democratic elections involve candidates stating clearly what their core principles are and how they will vote as a representative on key issues. Where an issue arises after an election which could not be predicted it should still be possible for the electorate to have an understanding of how decision making will be guided. I understand the arguments against factions as divisive, insular and off-putting, arguments which are amplified by many who oppose left organising, seek to disguise their own organising processes, or are unconscious about the extent to which they operate as part of an organised political collective with shared political values differing from others within the union or party they belong to. I also believe there is a risk in factional organising of becoming insular on the basis of shared endurance. However, based on my experiences, I believe that being open about organising groups we belong to, being clear about how to access and take part in those groups, and being clear about what those groups believe in, are a key part of how we push for apparatuses such as unions and political parties to be grass-roots led and proactive in fighting for worker rights and social justice in a system which is far from neutral and in which these apparatus are actively pulled in a way which aims to bureaucratise and depoliticise to support social continuity.

In UCU national structures independent candidates are fairly rare and incredibly difficult for voters to pick out from those who are thoroughly under the belief that they are independent but discuss votes separately from main union meetings and vote as part of a bloc, and those who seek to promote themselves as independent to gain election knowing that they are far from independent. Vicky Blake who recently won the VP election is a notable example of an independent candidate. I believe in her integrity and skills to organise and vote on principle, and I believe these things primarily because I know Vicky as a good union friend and sister who I have worked with over a long time period. I absolutely support Vicky as our elected VP as someone who will do a great job, but I gave her my second rather than first preference because I believe in voting for those who like me support the need for an organised left in political groups such as the Labour party or the union and because I support a socialist rather than liberal model of candidacy which rests on collective endeavour and beliefs rather than individual qualities. In the current election I will vote again for Jo McNeill, the candidate who openly states she is the candidate endorsed by UCU Left. The level of transparency of the other two candidates in standing on a ticket of independence I will review later in this piece, but I endorse Jo Grady as the second preference. I believe Matt Waddup could present big challenges to member-led democracy in our union.  

One of the key issues which has arisen in the union over the last year has been the motions of no confidence in Sally Hunt and the motion calling for her censure last congress (motions 10 and 11) following criticism that the USS dispute was poorly overseen in relation to recommendations to members over settling and terms of settlement. It has been commented on elsewhere that Matt was involved in officials walking out to terminate congress, but this is not what I wish to look at here.

UCU left candidates for NEC were elected on a mandate of standing for democracy and member-leadership of the union. When the IBL and IBL-supporting NEC majority pushed to have an NEC recommendation to congress that the no-confidence motion and a motion calling for the GS to be censured should be removed from the order of business on the grounds that there had been advice given that a vote of no confidence could if acted on be in breach of the GS contract, it could be predicted logically by those voting for UCU left candidates that their representatives would uphold the right of congress and the CBC as the elected body to oversee proceedings there and support the right of branches to have a motion which had been through the correct democratic proceedings heard on the floor of congress. It could also be predicted that those elected on a UCU left ticket would have a political view of the GS as an elected and accountable figure, and that this would take precedent over a view of the GS as an employee, albeit an executive employee, in a matter of recall. 

UCU left does not operate on a system of democratic centralism which means it would be less easy to call how we would vote on motions 10 and 11, because the political interest of members in different sectors in relation to the continuity of the GS varied. There was broad agreement to support the motion to censure the GS, but whilst pre-92 UCU left reps supported the call for no confidence FE reps faced a different situation. The AoC (the employers group for FE) had threatened to pull out of national negotiations and after a long process of growing support for action in the sector head office were mobilising to potentially pull all branches out in response. This was after years of frustrating one day strikes and stop start action, including a court injunction pulling action at the last hour and more amazingly, the IBL calling and packing a special sector conference to pull a live ballot and boycotting a special sector conference to get action back on to ensure it was not quorate. Whilst it transpired shortly that the threat was enough to bring the employers back to negotiations, a spiralling into an internal election cycle and removal of our key officer during that process had the potential to spell disaster for FE action. UCU left discussed this and were open in our lines of difference. 

There was some outcry at the time over how left representatives could even think of speaking or voting against a motion of no-confidence from those newly active in the union following the USS dispute, but for me this highlights the necessary space for left organising as something which happens in a coherent way across the union. UCU left candidates agree on the need for the union to be active and to fight. In this instance, pre-92 members had had their ability to fight severely inhibited, but the consequence of a vote of no confidence following this would mean FE members in incredibly difficult to organise conditions losing momentum and national resourcing for fighting. We need activists across all sectors to understand the dynamics of political arguments which relate to the union as a whole in terms of context and possible consequences for the different parts of the union we organise in. Where there are differences of impact, there needs to be a comradely space to consider these and if no consensus can be reached, the ability to openly explain reasoning more widely as to how different decisions have been reached.

When recall congress came to pass, with Sally Hunt now on long term sick leave relating to MS, UCU left members supported the withdrawal of the motion of no confidence and primarily voted and spoke in support of the motion calling for her censure. The reasoning for this was the need following the events of the USS dispute and the Congress walkout the need to reinforce the GS as being answerable to membership. I understood this argument but disagreed with the branch, the new layer of USS activists and UCU left comrades on the correctness of this motion being passed while the GS was sick; this was primarily based on the standards I would try to enforce during case work in relation to employers pushing through with disciplinaries during sick leave, but also a little influenced by my reservations over the use of disciplinary action as a way to resolve issues of democracy and power within the union. Contrary to allegations over the Left being a controlling or mindless group, I discussed this amicably with others prior to and after the event who understood without agreeing with my reasoning.

In the current GS election, a number of newly active members are enthusing about being able to vote for a left candidate who is not part of a faction, with comments also being made that the union has been paralysed by internal warfare between factions. This doesn’t fall too far from the vision of the union portrayed in the notorious Daily Mail article Matt Waddup has referred to on a number of occasions during his campaign, and it is easy to see why it is a palatable view: it offers hope that the obstacles to action are largely surmountable through unity, an ideological position Matt has put forward in his own vision for the future for the union. A level of unity is of course a desirable and necessary thing for a functioning union, and there are a number of issues which activists broadly agree on across the various factions and alignments, including the desire to defend members’ jobs, members’ working conditions, and members’ well-being.

But once we move past that, there are a couple of other trickier issues. These include whether a union should have a purpose beyond member-advancement/defence: are we self-interest groups, or do we have a broader remit as part of the labour movement to be actively anti-racist, anti-austerity, feminist, and to actively fight against disablism, homophobia and transphobia? Distinct from this though still concerned with power, for a union to work there is a need to continually make decisions about how it is achieves its aims, what it will claim and what it will agree to settle for. There is then a whole debate over who is best placed to make these decisions. Should these decisions be taken through open debate with wide members of elected voices feeding into the discussion, or should they be formulated through consultation of every member with the GS and paid officials deciding the frame for and managing responses to this consultation? All of this does not take place in a vacuum, but in 21st century Western capitalism where unions to some extent occupy a role of managing as well as organising worker unrest.

This being the case, the idea that a new non-aligned left would be any more effective in steering the union in a direction which is pro-democracy/member leadership, industrially active and pro-broader-struggle (which we can assume is what we mean by left in the context of trade union politics) takes a bit of unpicking. If a group of individuals are elected as non-aligned left candidates, without a clear electoral position separating them from other independent candidates speaking the same language, how do they organise in an environment where they will meet repeated opposition from those who do not share their beliefs on strategy, democracy, action, broader struggle or any combination of these things? If they meet or communicate in groupings in some way to exchange thoughts and strategy, it is difficult for them to be considered non-aligned at this point because an alignment has now formed. If they do not meet and exchange views, they will lack scope of information from across the different sectors, employment conditions and oppressed groups represented across the union and be limited in their ability to deliver something which includes the widest possible democratic left representation. It is naivety at best to assume that those who occupy the right wing of the union (not the right wing of broader politics, but to the right of trade unionism in favouring officials as best placed to inform strategy and direction, urging caution in industrial action in initiation and settlement, and sceptical of broader-struggle falling within the remit of the union) would behave any differently than in the past in promoting the election of “independent” and often “left-talking” candidates who would then vote in a bloc to force through their ideological positions on strategy. Perhaps it would be a level playing field if all candidates declared independence regardless of alignments but this would not deliver transparency to the electorate so would weaken rather than strengthening our democracy.

Another issue relating to alignment and factional organising in the current UCU climate is the power of the internet. In the USS dispute, this worked very much to the advantage of all who support a left position, in that those engaged in the dispute included a large body of members very interconnected online through twitter and to some extent other media through their academic networks who were then able to use this as a platform to organise revolt – firstly against the employers, and then against the union. It is not surprising that these connections have strengthened and continued, but their role in the current election is less clearly one which facilitates struggle. While pre-92 academics are relatively free and protected in their social media output, and have the time and cultural capital to communicate effectively to advance a candidate and their particular interests within the union using this media, in a broader election this creates a hot-point of campaigning in an area which relates most to those who work in elite institutions but is much less accessible, navigable and responsive for those who participate in the union elsewhere.

Academic-related staff do not automatically have the time or freedom of speech to engage online, and while some post-92 members are very engaged in the twitter network many are not: I would be interested to look at some sort of network mapping of how this all fits in terms of sector and activity/number of followers/number of interactions etc. In FE there is a triple penalty awaiting members who engage actively in open social media to even a fraction of the level of output of pre-92 e-activists: potential dismissal on the grounds of bringing the institution into disrepute, potential dismissal on the grounds of excessive non-work related activity during work time, or if the activity went undetected, dismissal on the grounds of capability due to the impact of online activity on ability to fulfil work requirements. Alongside this is a lack of familiarity with the codes of twitter speak, how to engage, and an absence of the extensive networks of academia. I am unaware of e-activism existing in the ACE section of our membership. For prison members, even having an electronic device at work is grounds for dismissal. Therefore, e-campaigning is in one sense delivering for a member-led union in that it allows access to a less controlled and more self-owned network than Sally Hunt ever faced as an IBL-endorsed bureaucratic candidate, but it is also acting to secure a lot of the biggest noise in this for pre-92 academic members.

This has happened alongside an emerging commentary from academics stating that they are endorsing Jo Grady because they believe only an academic can lead the union, that their own passivity in previous years is directly a result of non-academics activity in the union, and other problematic elitist statements. I’m not convinced enough has been done to separate the Grady campaign from this narrative, and in all fairness it would be tactically risky to do so given her support base. I am satisfied that she does not actively hold these views herself, and that any problems for those outside pre-92 should she be elected will relate to a laissez-fair stance on power imbalances in the union relating to class and sector/role rather than an active hostility. Her positioning of herself as “the only candidate in this election who works on the front line of teaching, research, and administration” gives a degree of concern over the extent to which non-academic staff are considered to be not on the frontline, particularly given the lower pay grades and higher pressure on non-academic staff in most institutions, but my interpretation is that this is about an election narrative in terms of how she wants to represent herself rather than a continuous political view on non-academic staff. This sits alongside other varying positions she has made publically on length of active service in the union and willingness to be endorsed by the left (she was endorsed in the NEC elections, having agreed endorsement, but reports this as a non-aligned campaign).  

To move from electoral transparency back to democracy more generally, I think Jo Grady’s manifesto is a mixed bag in relation to whether it points to a top-down or bottom-up model of the union. I think Grady’s appeal is built on a “new broom” approach, which means her manifesto is heavy on tick boxes of new initiatives rather than having a deep political focus: this necessitates in part from the need to attract the disillusioned from the left and the right, as well as the need to sweep up newly engaged members. As has been reported elsewhere by Michael Carley a number of initiatives laid out already exist, which demonstrates a lack of experience although not something which would be insurmountable for a new GS with an experienced staff base to guide her, which Jo G has already hinted at in the Cambridge hustings. Mainly her campaign promotes active membership and she has agreed to GS recall, a key point for a democratic union. It is likely that once the dust settles if elected she will seek to listen to long-term activists as well as long-serving staff.

A number of points in her campaign are surprisingly Sally-esque: the binary between “activists” and “members” used historically by the right to carve out distance between the legitimacy of listening to those who work to build the union and those who pay their subs in exchange for service was notable in her first all member e-mail. The GS surgeries are definitely reminiscent of a premiership which sought to at times replace layers of regional and national elected representation, and definitely evoke a top-down populist model of trade-unionism. There is some reference to innovative new forms of action has been knocking about for at least the last decade: seasoned FE activists may remember the IBL motion calling for UCU branded vuvuzelas as part of how we could deliver alternatives to industrial action to win for members. Perhaps coming from her awareness of her academic support base electorally, Grady’s regular reference to expert groups (particularly where counter-positioned against the time needed to run elections) are also one to watch, particularly where referring to the traditionally self-organised equality spaces.

That said, Jo Grady comes across as driven, broadly pro-member, expert on many issues within her sector and primarily sympathetic to if not aligned with the organised left of the union. As a working class woman she represents another female voice following on from Sally Hunt at the general council and I believe that she will be a more visible presence on pickets and (if allowed on the premises depending on sector and ferocity of management!) in branches. She is definitely a different candidate altogether from Matt Waddup.

Matt Waddup has been very careful in his choice of endorsements, choosing tactically to draw from non-aligned members and former supporters of other candidates along with less prolific NEC members traditionally voting with the IBL, taken from FE. There is no real doubt that he is the IBL endorsed candidate and his circulation of preliminary material to “branch leaders” outlines that the IBL have used their networks to generate a lay base for him. The IBL are very good at working under the radar and there will be an organising group in place. I think it is unlikely that he will publicise endorsements from figures such as Joanna De Groot or Dougie Chalmers given their connection to widely reported IBL interventions in the USS dispute and a number of members will perceive him as independent. Initially in his favour compared with Jo Grady, like Jo McNeill he is very knowledgeable about the different sectors of the union and the various levels and structures of the union. However I think there are a number of threats to union democracy more nakedly present in his narrative during campaigning so far.

It is very possible with Matt Waddup in post that we will see a continuation of the drive under Sally Hunt to move away from open debate and elected structures of the union (branch meetings, regions, congress) and in the direction of a top-down consultative model of democracy. This can be packaged very neatly under the label of increasing involvement, broadening democracy and making the union more representative of the “silent majority”. This is comparable to the battles in the Labour party between the anti-Corbyn PLP who perceived themselves as more able to understand Labour voters, and the activist membership (a narrative which has shifted in the party with different alignments appearing in relation to Brexit and a second referendum). It is very likely that Sally’s consultation of members over a second referendum will be used to underpin an argument for more GS led consultations and less collective decision making at other levels. This damages democracy in a number of ways: it assumes that a member sat overloaded and isolated at their desk clicking on an e-survey is no different from a member in a branch where debate has allowed exploration and the strength of collectivist democracy. It ignores the power of the person who frames the question and the material allocated to consider the question. All of these things we have come up against under Sally Hunt’s leadership, and I believe Matt is more confident in his ability to push through on them. 

If you believe that unions are in part apparatus to manage as well as facilitate the fight against oppression, then you should understand the need for an organised left within a union, and you should vote 1 Jo McNeill, 2 Jo Grady.

If you believe that candidates should be open about and conscious of how they will organise and what the collectives they organise with stand for, you should vote 1 Jo McNeill, 2 Jo Grady.

If you believe that members need to be active in unions, that left candidates should openly stand as candidates who will organise collectively for union democracy, industrial action as a necessity, and broad struggle beyond member pay and conditions, you should vote 1 Jo McNeill, 2 Jo Grady.

Whoever you vote for, you should vote and encourage all members you know to vote. A mandate is about transparency but also about turnout.

 

UCU activists stand with Birmingham Muslim community: statement

EAB1A69D-6D86-4737-99C6-D0FA5DA0DE4F.jpegPlease comment below to add your name
We condemn this disgusting targeting of our Muslim sisters and brothers in Birmingham and we stand in solidarity with you. We call on all trade unionists to prioritise the fight to defend our communities against racist attacks and call for renewed funding of further education to deliver hope and understanding in the place of the ignorance and hatred that flourishes when educational opportunity is smashed.
We condemn the continual feed of “othering” of Muslims in our media and through institutional use of the Prevent strategy as part of the process of dehumanisation leaving our sisters and brothers open to attack, and continue our resistance to this.
Birmingham Muslim community, we stand with you.
Nita Sanghera – Vice President, UCU, branch secretary South and City Birmingham: Bournville

Dave Muritu – UCU equality chair, NEC (black members), chair black members standing committee, branch secretary Sandwell College UCU

Rhiannon Lockley – UCU NEC (Midlands, Further Education) and West Midlands women’s officer, Birmingham City University UCU

Dharminder Chuhan – UCU West Midlands black members officer, chair Sandwell College UCU

Andrew Misiura – UCU West Midlands lgbt+ officer, Gloucester UCU

Kirsten Forkert – UCU West Midlands HE chair and Midlands NEC elect, Birmingham City University UCU

Justine Mercer – UCU NEC (Midlands, Higher Education), Warwick UCU

 

Lesley Foley – West Midlands regional organiser

Nick Varney, South West regional official and former West Midlands regional official

Babs Gisborne-Land – West Midlands retired members rep

Nick Hardy, University of Birmingham UCU and NEC elect (Midlands HE)

Pura Ariza – UCU NEC and lgbt+ standing committee, MMU UCU

Vicky Blake – UCU VP elect, Leeds UCU

Sue Abbott – UCU NEC and chair women’s standing committee, Newcastle UCU

Jo McNeill – UCU NEC and GS candidate, President University of Liverpool UCU

Elizabeth Lawrence (former President)

Secretary UCU Yorkshire and Humberside Retired Members’ Branch

 

Lesley McGorrigan, Yorkshire/Humberside UCU Regional Secretary

Julie Hearn, UCU NEC, Equality Officer Lancaster UCU

Saira Weiner, UCU branch secretary, Liverpool John Moores University

Elane Heffernan, NEC, chair disabled members committee and co-chair UCU democracy commission

Jess Meacham, University of Sheffield UCU

Mandy Brown UCU NEC and Lambeth College
Julia Roberts UCU NEC and Lambeth College
Jim Delaney UCU Lambeth College

Sean Wallis, UCL UCU President and UCU NEC member

Rutherford

Colin Merret

Steve Harper

David McQueen

Maike Helmers 

Marian Mayer – Chair, South Regional Committee

William Proctor

Stephanie Allen 

Crispin Farbrother

(All Bournemouth UCU)

Naina Kent UCU

London Regional Executuve Comittee Equality Rep.

 

Adrian Budd, LSBU UCU

 

Cecily Blyther UCU NEC

 

Dr Simon Hewitt, School of PRHS, University of Leeds
Pete Bicknell – UCU lesoco

Bruce Baker, NEC & Newcastle University branch chair

Michael Bailey   Essex UCU
Dilly Meyer    Essex UCU
Colin Samson  Essex UCU
Peter Patrick   Essex UCU
Sherrie Green   Essex UCU
Paul Siddall   Essex UCU
Dr Catherine Crawford · Senior Lecturer in History, President Essex UCU  

Assistant Professor  Jayne Caudwell, Bournemouth UCU

 

Roddy Slorach, Branch organiser, Imperial College London UCU

 

Margot Hill, NEC and Croydon College

 

martin ralph Liverpool university ucu 

Christina Paine, NEC

Deepa G Driver Co-Chair, UCU National Dispute Committee

John Fones, Bridgwater and Taunton UCU

London Met branch committee

Essex branch committee

Laura Miles

Sheila Hemingway

Richard McEwan UCU Poplar branch Secretary, New City College.

Marion Hersh UCU NEC

Angie McConnell UCU

Jane Holgate University of Leeds

Geraint Evans, Bradford College UCU Branch Secretary

Carol Cody UCU NW Women’s Rep.

Mark Abel, Chair, UCU Coordinating Committee, University of Brighton and UCU NEC.

Warwick UCU

Dr Sharon Kivland, Sheffield Hallam University

 

Grant Buttars, Branch President , UCU Edinburgh
Andrew Chitty, Sussex UCU

Sarah Joss, Heriot Watt UCU

 

Rebecca Richards, Keele UCU

Billie Loebner UCU Middlesex University

Graham Wroe Sheffield College UCU

Gargi bhattacharyya Uel branch

Bee Hughes, member & Branch Action Committee member, LJMU UCU

Elaine White Bradford College Anti-Casualisation rep and Women’s FE NEC

Joe S. Sanders Cambridge UCU

Uni of Hull UCU committee:

Jean Kellie, membership secretary

Tim Buescher, equality officer

Janine Kopp, secretary

Martin Nickson

Mike Lammiman

Michael Carley, University of Bath UCU President, and NEC

University of Leeds branch committee UCU

Sunil Banga Lancaster University UCU

Jacob Phelps, Membership Officer, Lancaster UCU

Mike Barton, Branch Secretary, New City College Redbridge UCU

Craig Jones, Lancaster UCU PGR Rep

Wendy Olsen

Patrick Montague Lancaster University UCU

Simon Williams, Sussex UCU executive

Mario Novelli, Sussex UCU executive

Luke Martell, Sussex UCU

Chloe Vitry Lancaster UCU

Carolyn Downs, Lancaster UCU

Maggie Mort, Lancaster UCU

Jo Grady, Sheffield UCU, NEC elect and GS candidate

John Drury, University of Sussex

Roger Phillips UCU Sussex

Mike Coogan Lancaster UCU

Bob Jeffery, Anti-casualisation officer, UCU Sheffield Hallam, chair of Sheffield trades council

Evangelos Ntontis, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

Fergus Neville, University of St Andrews

Petroc UCU Branch Committee.

Steve Cushion

UCU London Retired Members

Paul Gardner, University of St Andrews UCU member

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Syesha Francis, Sandwell College UCU branch committee

 

Camille Ettelaie

Paul Skarratt

Steve Burwood

Kerry Dobson

David Pennie

(All Hull UCU)

Libby Hudson, RNC UCU

Dennis Chapman
UCU Rep Chair, CU Coventry
Sheila Jervis
UCU Branch Officer Evesham College /Malvern Hills College
Steve H. Davies
Stratford-upon-Avon College UCU
Jennifer Underhill, Sandwell College UCU
Emily Robinson, Sussex UCU
Annie Jones, Sheffield Hallam Branch Officer, Women Members Standing Committee Member