It was reported at the time that over 1,000 extra voter codes were used to cast votes for ‘Believe In Oxford’, supposedly all from the same location.Last year’s OUSU President Tom Rutland, who was in charge of the student union at the time of the referendum and led the ‘Yes to NUS’ campaign, told Cherwell, “It’s frustrating that the University hasn’t publicly said anything since it was referred to them. Students deserve to know the outcome of the investigation into evidence that the vote was intentionally sabotaged.”Last May, following the announcement of the referendum being declared void, Jack Matthews said to Cherwell, “I welcome the result of the Junior Tribunal – it is absolutely right that the entire Referendum has been voided.“We must now wait for a response from other investigations which will seek to discover who perpetrated this crime.”Other students also expressed their frustation at the lack of news.Third year Hilda’s student Helena Dollimore said, “Either the University is incompetent and hasn’t managed to work out how the referendum was fiddled and which IP address was responsible, or they’re deliberately keeping the results of the investigation secret. If the latter, it sends out completely the wrong message for a university to effectively not punish serious electoral fraud, which gets you jail time in the real world.”Louis Trup, who was then OUSU Presidentelect, remarked at the time, “I am genuinely shocked to hear of the electoral malpractice that has led to the results of the NUS referendum being declared void. It’s obviously a terrible thing to happen, but I just can’t really believe anybody cared enough to go to the trouble of sending off so many votes.”Rutland took a motion to OUSU Council in 7th Week of Trinity last year to reaffiliate to the NUS after the news that the referendum had been tampered with was revealed to the general student population. OUSU then decided to vote through his motion.The Oxford University Student Handbook reveals that the Student Disciplinary Panel, the University body to which the case was referred, can punish those who break regulations in several different ways. The body can issue punishments ranging from “a fine of any size” to rusticating students for “whatever period of time it [the SDC] thinks fit” or even expulsion from membership of the University.Second year chemist Harry Bush told Cherwell, “The actual NUS referendum sort of passed me by really, although my friends talked about the fact it might have been rigged quite a lot. It does seem a bit bizarre that we haven’t been told anything about what’s been happening since the investigation was launched.”Another student said they hoped “the entire University would be informed of the developments soon.”The student conduct section of the University regulations makes clear that complaints of this nature are supposed to be dealt with in full confidentiality.The same section also maintains, “All those who are involved in procedures for investigating an allegation, including witnesses, representatives, and persons providing evidence and/or advice, have a duty to maintain confidentiality.”It is unknown if any actions have been taken towards any students and whether any more information will be made public. THE UNIVERSITY PROCTORS have refused to announce whether there are any results from the Student Disciplinary Panel’s (SDP) investigation into the “serious irregularities” discovered in May’s OUSU referendum on its affiliation to the National Union of Students (NUS).The University’s regulations state, “No complaint made by the Proctors shall be heard by the Student Disciplinary Panel more than six months after the date of the first interview, unless the Chairman or ViceChairman sitting on that occasion decides at his or her discretion to allow the complaint to be heard on the grounds that there is good cause for the delay.” Cherwell understands that it has now been more than six months since the complaint was made and interviews began.OUSU President Louis Trup told Cherwell, “It has been a long time since the NUS referendum, and I am frustrated with the lack of response from the Proctors on the issue. On many occasions I have asked the Proctors for more information about the current status of the investigation, but they have not told me anything. I understand that if the Proctors do make a decision, this will not be made public, which for me is a highly frustrating element to the way in which they operate. This concern can now be voiced by OUSU officers, as we have this year managed to get OUSU representation on the university committee which oversees the work of the Proctors’ Office.“I have made it clear at many OUSU Council meetings that if the investigation finds that individuals engaged in electoral malpractice, then I believe they should be held accountable for their actions.“OUSU has adopted a new voting system to ensure that any future referendum or election cannot be manipulated in the same way.”A University spokesperson responded, saying, “The subjects and outcomes of all Proctors’ investigations are confidential and are not made public.”A Junior Tribunal declared the referendum, which was held to determine whether or not OUSU should remain affiliated to the NUS, void on Monday 26th May 2014. This was after the leader of the campaign to disaffiliate, Jack Matthews, highlighted misuse of the Unique Voter Codes (UVCs) issued for the online voting system mi-vote.com in an official complaint. Matthews declined to comment when Cherwell approached him on the expiration of his complaint.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds will clearly set out how the Government will “trust school leaders to get on with the job” by clarifying who schools are accountable to and boosting development opportunities for new teachers.In an address to more than 350 school leaders at the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) annual conference in Liverpool on Friday (4 May), the Secretary of State will set out plans for a clearer system of accountability that will let good schools get on with their job, free from the “spectre” of multiple inspections by making it clear that “the only people who should go to schools for inspections are Ofsted”.Mr Hinds will announce a consultation to replace the “confusing” system of having both floor and coasting standards to measure school performance, with a single measure to trigger support for schools. This will be backed by a clear statement on when schools convert to academy status to drive improvement.In a pledge to the profession, published today, the Secretary of State will underline his commitment to give school leaders the confidence to raise standards in their schools and free up teachers to focus on what really matters in the classroom.The Education Secretary is expected to say: The department’s initial response to the consultation on Qualified Teacher Status; A £5 million fund to support more teachers to take a sabbatical – such as a year working in industry relevant to their field – and a research project to introduce more flexible hours in the profession; More detail on the recruitment and retention strategy announced at the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference in March; More support, offered proactively, for schools that are in danger of failing; and The launch of an external advisory group and working group with teaching unions to help develop the department’s strategy. The pledges made today follow on from the Secretary of State’s speech in March, during which he made clear that his top priority is to ensure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession, underpinned by a commitment to tackle unnecessary workload. A myth buster video on school inspections featuring the Secretary of State and the Chief Inspector for Schools, Amanda Spielman – launched at the ASCL conference – has had more than 75,000 views to date.Today’s announcements build on measures already supporting teachers’ development and efforts to attract the best and brightest recruits into the profession, including a Flexible Working Summit with business and education leaders to explore how the profession can be more flexible – including through part time roles – which resulted in a number of pledges.In full, the Education Secretary will announce: Extending on-the-job training and support for trainee and new teachers to two years, so they get the best possible start to their career; Creating early career development opportunities for teachers through a new framework that schools will follow, developed in partnership with teachers, school leaders and education experts; and Introducing more flexible working practices that will put the profession on a par with other industries, with a £5 million fund to help experienced teachers take a sabbatical. The announcements the Secretary of State is making today will be widely welcomed by NAHT’s members.Accountability is an essential part of our publicly funded education system but it is also one of the main driversof workload; a big reason why many talented people leave, and often a limiting factor on the ambitions ofschools. It’s absolutely right that there should only be one agency with the remit to inspect schools. Clarity about thestandards that are expected is just what we’ve been calling for. Removing the coasting and floor standards will do much to address the confusion felt by many school leaders. Itwill be important that the new support standard is set at the right level and helps direct rapid, high-quality,funded support to the schools that need it most. We have a track record of working with the government on improvements to the system and we look forward toworking with them to help define the detail behind these new proposals and to make sure that these jointambitions are realised. The Secretary of State will continue: Accountability is vital. Children only get one shot at an education and we owe them the best…where they arebeing let down we need to take action quickly – so no one ends up left behind. But what I’ve found from speaking to many of you these last few months is that there is also real confusion withinthe sector… I believe school leaders need complete clarity on how the accountability system will operate. I’m clear that Ofsted is the body that can provide an independent, rounded judgement of a school’sperformance. This means we will not be forcibly turning schools into academies unless Ofsted has judged it to be Inadequate. I believe strongly that becoming an academy can bring enormous benefits to schools. Hundreds of schoolsevery year voluntarily choose to become academies and I want this to be a positive choice for more and moreschools as we move forward. We must also have a system that does more than just deal with failure… But we will do so in the right way, andthere will be a single, transparent data trigger for schools to be offered support – which we will consult on. I intend this to replace the current confusing system of having both below the floor and coasting standards forperformance… I have a clear message to schools and their leaders: I trust you to get on with the job. All of us have a shared goal of making sure teaching remains an attractive, fulfilling profession. We will take an unflinching look at the things that discourage people from going into teaching or make themconsider leaving… and we will also look at how we support teachers to get better at what they do and hone theirexpertise and career progression. We will be introducing an enhanced offer of support for new teachers – including extending the induction periodto two years – and we will work with the profession to develop a new early career content framework that will setout all the training and mentoring a teacher is entitled to in those first years. I want teachers to be able to develop and progress through clearer career pathways, including for those whowant to stay in the classroom … and I want schools to be attractive 21st Century workplaces. Today’s announcements will be backed by the NAHT, as the Education Secretary’s address marks the beginning of two days of speeches and debates on the development and improvement of the teaching profession.General Secretary of the NAHT, Paul Whiteman, said: There are a record number of teachers working in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and increasing numbers are returning to the profession. Thanks to the efforts of this talented generation of teachers, alongside the government’s bold reforms, there are now 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.To build on this, the Education Secretary will set out plans to improve early career support and development.Working with school leaders, new high-quality training opportunities will be developed to boost career progression and support the record number of teachers in our schools to become leaders in their field, including: