NASUWT COMMENTS ON SPRING STATEMENT

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The forthcoming full three-year spending review is needed urgently to tackle the serious financial pressures affecting delivery of education and other vital public services for children and young people.

“The Chancellor’s speech today may provide promises for future government spending but it provides nothing to meet the pressing needs of schools today.

“The era of austerity will continue despite the Chancellor’s statement. Teachers and headteachers will be looking to the government urgently to address the years of real-terms cuts to school budgets and the drastic erosion of teachers’ salaries which has contributed to the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

“The NASUWT welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to fund access to free sanitary products for pupils in secondary schools from next year. However, it is vital that this scheme is extended to cover all primary schools and colleges to ensure that no girl misses out on her education or has her dignity compromised due to period poverty.

“The fact that so many families cannot afford sanitary products for their children is in itself a reflection of the shameful indictment on the Government’s policies, which have hit the poorest hardest, and especially children and young people. 

“The Chancellor would do well to poverty impact assess any future government spending priorities and decisions.”

NASUWT WELCOMES VERDICT IN UPSKIRTING CASE

The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has welcomed the guilty verdict against a pupil who took covert upskirt photos of two NASUWT members at a school in Fermanagh.

The pupil, who was aged 14 and 15 at the time he captured the footage of two female teachers at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School in 2015 and 2016, has been found guilty on all counts of committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency.

The NASUWT pressed for the Public Prosecution Service to take action against the pupil and has been representing and supporting the members involved since the incidents came to light.

While welcoming the verdict, the case has highlighted the inadequacy of current legal protections in Northern Ireland. The NASUWT is calling for legislation to be enacted to create an offence of upskirting in criminal law. This would bring Northern Ireland into line with legislation in England and Scotland. The Department of Justice last week launched a consultation on making upskirting a criminal offence in Northern Ireland.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Our members have had to endure not only the violation of knowing that a pupil took intimate images of them while they were teaching, but also several years of anxious delay before this case could be brought to court. It was only due to the persistence of the NASUWT and the strength and resolve of the members that it did so at all.

“We very much welcome today’s verdict which will hopefully provide the teachers with a sense of closure and allow them to move on from these distressing events. It also sends out a clear message to pupils that engaging in such degrading behaviour is completely unacceptable.

“Today’s verdict sends a message to teachers that they do not have to put up with sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace. Where teachers are experiencing such abuse they can know that the NASUWT will act to protect their right to work in safety.

“This case has highlighted the inadequacy of current laws around sexual harassment in Northern Ireland. Legislation has failed to keep up with the advent of mobile technology and it is clear new powers are needed to create an offence of upskirting, which would bring Northern Ireland into line with the laws in England and Scotland.”