Teachers to strike for five days at school over plans to join academy

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Nottingham Post

Teachers at a secondary school have decided to strike for five days over plans to convert into an academy, The Nottingham Post reports.

Friesland School, in Sandiacre, has sought an academy order to become a member of the The Two Counties Academy Trust.

However, the members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NUSUWT) have said the plans could affect job security, teachers’ working conditions and educational entitlement for students.

As a result a number of teachers will be striking on the February 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 and a picket line will be in place in Nursery Road outside the school gates.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, said the teachers were “forced” into taking action.

She said: “There is no educational or financial benefit to converting Friesland School into an academy.

“Teachers’ pay and conditions of service are inextricably linked to high standards of education for children and young people and there is a real concern that academy conversion will result in a deterioration of conditions.

“The NASUWT and its members deeply regret any disruption which will be caused to pupils and parents.

“The teachers at Friesland School are all dedicated and committed members of staff, who have been forced into this position because of the threat of unnecessary structural change which the NASUWT does not believe is in the best interests of either pupils or staff at the school.”

The head teacher of Friesland School, Peter Monk, said he was “disappointed” that a number of teachers were striking for five days as it would “deprive” children of their education.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed that the NASUWT union has decided to take what is significant strike action at Friesland across the next two weeks.

“The governing body has followed due legal process in conducting an extremely robust consultation on the conversion proposal to join The Two Counties Trust and voted on November 30, 2017 to pursue an academy order.

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“That process is still taking place and currently we remain a foundation school. The governing body firmly believes that joining The Two Counties Academy Trust is strategically the best route forward for Friesland School at this point in time both for the students and staff.

“Strike action on academisation is extremely rare on a national basis and we are very disappointed at the action the NASUWT is taking and the disruption that this will be causing families.”

But Mr Monk has confirmed that no jobs are at risk and pay will be honoured by the trust.

He said: “We have already held a series of meetings with an area representative and a national executive representative of the NASUWT to try to prevent the strike action and this dialogue will continue during the period of action with the hope of reaching a resolution that will avert or reduce the action.

“With regards to the reasons given above for the action, the Two Counties Trust have been very clear that no jobs are at risk with the conversion, national pay and conditions of service will continue to be honoured and all trade unions are recognised within the trust.”

Mr Monk added: “We are particularly concerned about examination classes at this crucial point in the school year. The school therefore remains open to Years 11, 12 and 13 currently during strike days and we will be doing all we can to ensure that their education does not suffer during the action.

“It is extremely regrettable that students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 are being deprived of their education during strike days.”

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the planned strike action at Friesland School on Wednesday and this matter is being managed by the school’s leadership team.”

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