New petition on mental health to sign and share

Hi everyone,

Just found a petition online called ‘We need an urgent inquiry into the mental health impact of the new GCSEs, SATs and the exam factory culture in schools’

Here’s the link to sign: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/we-need-an-urgent-inquiry-into-the-mental-health-impact-of-the-new-gcses-sats-and-the-exam-factory-culture-in-schools .

Please please sign and share if you can. Education should set you up for life, not bring you down forever!!!

Strikes against academisation in Maze Hill

Hi everyone.

Just to let you all know, tomorrow until July 12, all at 7am, is a picket line at The John Roan NEU, Maze Hill, south-east London, against forced academisation. 5 more days of strike action planned to STOP the forced academisation and overturn the unfair OFSTED inspection of The John Roan School; the oldest school in the country, 1677, which is still comprehensive.

They are now beginning to gain the attention of national media, so an even bigger presence at the next strike would really make an impact. So, please please attend if you can and share it if you wish!!

Education is to be for the many, not for the few!!!

NHS demo tomorrow

Hi everyone,

Just to let you all know, tomorrow, at 12pm in Portland Place, central London, is the national demonstration marking the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS). The march will continue until Parliament Square, via Regent Street and Whitehall.

I – Joe Booth – and others, including Jon Ashworth are part of a deputation on it delivering a petition to Theresa May. The petition is here: https://t.co/KDvhQxa8F?amp=1.

Please please, attend and share if you can. Tory attacks on the NHS are a damage to both our health and our lives!

Public meeting a week on Saturday

Hi everyone,

Just to let you all know, there is a public meeting on Saturday 7th July 2018 at 2pm until 5pm at Marcon Court Community Hall, Hackney Central. It is organised so we can all talk about how stressful education has become and the ways forward in campaigning. It’s a public event so everyone is welcome. But we don’t want the young people attending to be outnumbered by the adults coming, as it will be structured around a friendly and welcoming environment.

The Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/213954136068438/.

Please please attend if you can, and share it around social media and elsewhere.

 

In solidarity, Joe Booth, JoePLBooth@gmail.com

 

Report of the last NEU/NUT conference

Hey everyone,

Here is a written report of the last conference of the National Education Union (NEU), and everything regarding support for the TSOS campaign.

 

The last National Union of Teachers’ conference: all words and no action to Take the Stress Out of Studying!
The last ever National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) conference took place over the Easter weekend, 29th March to 3 April 2018. From next year the union is part of a new union formed with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which will be called the National Education Union (NEU).
The NEU will be the largest education union and the NUT has been the largest teachers’ union and certainly the most radical. This makes it one of the key arenas where we can forward the struggle to ‘Take the Stress Out of Studying’ (TSOS).
Several of the NUT branches (which are called divisions) passed a motion to go to conference to support TSOS. However, disappointingly, it was not prioritised by enough divisions for the motion to be taken at conference. Despite this the NUT continues to make all the right noises on student stress. They regularly note the terrible affects on students (and education workers!) mental health of the current education system. They support campaigns called ‘More than a Score’ and issue reports called ‘Exam Factories’.
I personally believe that all testing in schools is unnecessary. It is about labelling the students and making ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ for our unequal society not about learning, it also tells teachers nothing they do not know already. Teachers under the pressure of having to justify themselves to management and management having to justify the school to Ofsted and the government, value test outcomes far above any other measures of the students welfare or learning. The pressure passes from government to management to teacher to student. It is particularly disgusting in primary schools where children as young as 5 and 6 now can face up to 6 weeks testing out of a 39 week academic year. As a primary school teacher and a parent of primary school children myself, I consider this abuse. The acceptance of this as abuse is widely held by delegates at the NUT conference. Now the government is suggesting testing 4 year olds when they enter school, baseline testing!
But, despite a strong and vocal minority in conference, which calls for the union to take decisive action; firstly by boycotting all testing in primary schools, the conference voted to commit to little more than consulting its members and a campaign conference. That is essentially the same strategy the union has had for years. The most basic thing we can do to stop the abuse and regain our dignity as a union of education workers is to ballot to stop administering the abuse. The campaign to make that a reality will continue into the new union.

Duncan Morrison,
Assistant Divisional Secretary of Lewisham Division NEU (NUT), personal capacity

Advice to revise 7 hours a day for GCSEs over Easter ‘unbelievable’

Head of an independent school organisation has recommended that pupils study *7 hours a day* over the Easter holiday period, putting massive stress on pupils and perpetuating the idea that they shouldn’t have the genuine time off for rest and relaxation.

Worth having a read: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/mar/30/advice-to-revise-7-hours-a-day-for-gcses-over-easter-unbelievable

This is on top of the stress that pupils already face through exams and day-to-day work. And it must not continue! How are you enjoying your learning if you’re expected to have no rest?!!

Please leave a comment if you wish and we will have a discussion about how to fight this stress.

 

In solidarity, Joe Booth,     JoePLBooth@gmail.com

Speaking to the council about stress in studying

Last week, Joe Booth (young activist in Hackney) gave a speech to Hackney Council’s Health & Wellbeing board about youth mental health and cuts to Special Needs support services.

Here’s what he said:

My name is Joe Booth. I’m a 16-year-old autistic student at Mossbourne Community Academy. And I’m so concerned about school kids’ mental health that I have launched a campaign about it. The campaign is called Take The Stress Out Of Studying. TSOS for short. It has a website (tsos.blog), it has supporters around the country and has a petition signed by over 120 people. 

I want to make 3 points: *Firstly, the extent of stress and mental health problems amongst students. *Secondly, how school conditions contribute to this. *And thirdly, how important special education needs support is in dealing with this.

Firstly, one of the main things that prompted me to start this campaign was the suicide of my 16-year-old family friend last year. But lots of school-age kids experience mental health problems, and I myself have been taking daily anti-depressants since November. I know of students who have eating disorders, insomnia, distress, anxiety and other mental health problems. 

Secondly, school contributes to these mental health problems. For example, I’ve submitted a list of 5 concerns to the Vice Principal of my school. And what they are are: *Students are given so much homework that we have to spend hours every night doing it. We’re given at least 10 pieces of homework a week. Students stay up doing homework until midnight, 1am or even 2am. *Students are frequently kept in detention, often for trivial reasons. Students are often anxious about asking teachers for help with homework because they may detain them. Detentions until 6pm result in demoralisation and overwork. As a result, we become tired and stressed, and our family and leisure time is disrupted. *The academy is too strict and unsympathetic with us. Students are anxious about admitting to teachers if they have forgotten to bring equipment, or cannot complete or do homework, because the teachers will shout at them or detain them. As a result, students suffer anxiety about being sanctioned by teachers and can struggle to sleep. *Students have told teachers that they feel unwell (mentally or physically) and teachers have told them to ‘pull themselves together and keep learning’. As a result, students do not get the help they need with their health issues and become more unwell. *Special Needs students have become distressed and angry due to detentions and examination pressure. Sometimes, learning support staff have increased the lengths of their sanctions as a form of punishment instead of trying to understand what’s making them distressed and showing sympathy. As a result, Special Needs students are not getting the learning support they need, and are becoming excessively distressed.

Thirdly, particularly for students with Special Needs the extra support we need is crucial in helping us to deal with these stresses. E.g. through my Education Health & Care Plan (EHCP), I get a Teaching Assistant (TA) who can explain things to me so I don’t get distressed and somebody who I can talk to when I get upset. And I get Speech & Language Therapy which over the years, have helped me navigate social interaction and make friends. Any cut to Special Education Needs support in Hackney will lead to worsening students’ mental health. We should be improving the school environment for all our kids, especially all with special needs, not making it worse. We should be increasing support, not reducing it. 

To summarise, there is a real crisis in young people’s mental health. Conditions in schools are contributing to this crisis and we need the council and the government to increase support to kids with Special Needs, not taking it away.

 

Thanks for reading