UNISON members in local government and schools have voted for industrial action over pay. Britain faces one of its biggest days of industrial action for decades after hundreds of thousands of local government workers have now decided to strike on Tuesday October 14th.

The employer’s side of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, refuses to renegotiate on its 1% final offer. NJC workers in local government have seen an 18% drop in basic pay in real terms since 2010. This is a consequence of the government's pay freeze, failure to pay the promised £250 to the one million local government workers earning below £21,000 and the longer-term decline in NJC pay.

The trade unions are seeking a minimum of £1 an hour for employees on NJC terms and conditions to make the living wage rate the bottom pay rate in local government and - because everyone on NJC pay is low paid for the jobs they do - the same flat rate increase on all other pay points.


What does it take to be a great Science technician?

It’s arguably easy for a teacher to know if they do a good job or not. Success is measured by the number of A or B Grade Students that pass their examinations or perhaps the number of awards or accolades that a school or teacher achieves during the course of the doing their job. Teachers also are heavily scrutinised by their own line management. They are regularly appraised and both line management and their school subjected to the close, regular & rigourous inspections of OFSTED

But how do technicians know if they do a good job? Any technician questioning his or her abilities may have wondered: “Am I a good technician?” or “What does my line management think of me?” and beyond, “How do I go from good to great?”

Interesting article which has appeared on the TES website. I am reproducing it here below. I have expressed my opinions on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/seamus.smith.9083) and elsewhere. Your views are encouraged and welcomed!

By: Sir John Holman Royal Society Stem

Sir John Holman, member of the Royal Society’s Vision for Science and Mathematics Education Committee, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of York and senior education adviser for The Wellcome Trust and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, writes: 

In the past year, great strides have been taken towards making sure all young people continue to study mathematics in some way until the age of 18. This is an important step in making sure the education we provide to students equips them to succeed in life, because mathematics is something that everyone needs, whatever their job.

But we can do more and make sure that everyone studies some kind of science to 18 as well. The skills learnt in science are desperately needed by employers in the UK. The CBI has said that 39 per cent of businesses struggle to recruit those with appropriate skills in Stem subjects.

HSE is the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illnessAs we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act this summer, the Daily Telegraph has published an incisive article acknowledging the importance of the Act.

This is an extract from Philip Johnston’s opinion piece, which you can read in full on the Telegraph website link to external website.

‘Health and safety has become synonymous with nanny statism, interfering jobsworths, ludicrous litigation and risk aversion. And yet the Health and Safety at Work Act, which is 40 years old this summer, has arguably saved more lives than any other piece of legislation, including the ban on drink driving or the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars. It may well have reduced deaths by 5,000 or more.

‘So how did an Act that was by any measure a milestone in social reform turn into one of the most disparaged statutes of recent times? Partly it has to do with the way the law is interpreted – and often wrongly blamed for absurd restrictions imposed on perfectly innocuous practices. But it also reflects an absolutist view that it is possible to avoid accidental injury or death, rather than simply to reduce the circumstances in which they might occur.

Mentos Coke Bottle Science demonstration. National Science Learning Centre. York.

This article is comes from an interesting Blog by Yvonne Baker (@ScienceVoice on twitter).

You may – or may not – have noticed a bit of a furore developing recently around practical science, or more specifically the assessment of it.

For A level in England, Ofqual have announced that assessment of practical science will no longer be included in the final grading, with a separate pass/fail for defined practical techniques reported alongside. 


Unsurprisingly, this has excited a range of science based organisations including the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society, SCORE (Science Community Representing Education) and the CBI, all of whom have criticised the proposals, calling it a ‘backward step’ which will damage British science. [Read more of this article here.....]

See also
@ScienceVoice  on twitter


This post has been copied from the National STEM website community area. I thought this might be of interest to colleagues on the TecHKnow website. if you are keen to explore this any further then please follow the appropriate links contained in the article below

The author of the post runs a high school project called 'Horizon'. Each year the author recruit a team of pupils who build and launch autonomous, high altitude probes into the Stratosphere (carried by Helium or Hydrogen filled weather balloons).

You can see the footage from their recent year's launches here (watch it full screen for best effect):

On behalf of Janette O' Connell I wonder if you could help with completing the attached survey about technician support. You will find the survey in our DOWNLOADS areas in the "Surveys, Application Forms & Flyers" area

Jenette is looking to see if there is an increase or decrease in the amount of support in schools. Once completed could you please email your responses to Janette DIRECTLY via the email address on the form itself. Do not send them to us here on TecHKnow. Thanks in advance.

This survey is also available on the School Science technicians Facebook area

CLEAPSS is carrying out a survey of the noise levels from existing fume cupboards to see if noise needs to form an important part of new guidance to replace Building Bulletin 88. 

Click here for the Survey & details..

This is the second version of the survey that CLEAPSS first carried out in March 2014. If you completed the first version, there is no need to complete this one. Whilst the first version gave some useful results, we’d like to cover a larger number of schools/colleges and as a result of findings from the first survey we have been able to simplify the procedure.

Please test one or two fume cupboards in laboratories (not prep rooms). If you have both ducted and filter (re-circulatory) fume cupboards, try to include one of each. The rooms should be empty (except for yourself) and there should be no other noises such as building works going on at the same time. 

You need to have either a sound meter or data-logger (many physics departments have them) or you can use an app on a mobile phone (for example, Sound meter for Android phones or SPL meter from iTunes). Just pick one, please.

You can download the questions to either print off or complete via email or post from our website - www.cleapss.org.uk.

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