By a Lewisham school worker
When the schools closed on 20th March the national union had already asked reps to set up WhatsApp groups for their school groups. In Lewisham we encouraged our reps to do this. The branch has weekly Zoom meetings open to all activists. These meetings enable us to monitor what is going on in our schools, spread best practice and feedback what has been agreed in our discussions with the local authority, it also allows our members to raise issues that they want pursued at local authority level.
In Lewisham we are fortunate that we have been able to stave off most academisations and the vast majority of schools remain in local authority control. We are, along with the other school-based unions, meeting with the local authority (again via Zoom) at least weekly, this meeting was instigated and pushed for by the NEU.
As well as the weekly branch Zoom meeting we are issuing guidance both to our reps and separate guidance to our members, weekly by email. We are also using the opportunity to try to set up school groups where we don’t have them currently and are actively trying to get reps in schools where there isn’t one.