NUT and NASUWT teachers in Newham are challenging 15% fines imposed on them by the school’s governing body

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Teachers in east London today begin a key battle in what could be the first of several days of strike action.

Members of the NUT and NASUWT at Stratford Academy in Newham are challenging fines which the teachers say have been unfairly imposed on them by the school’s governing body.

It follows the national ballots by both unions in the summer, in their dispute over pay and workloads.

Teachers have been working to rule in schools across England since the start of a campaign of industrial action short of a strike last month.

Individual schools and branches have the option to escalate this to local strike action if the work to rule triggers a dispute with the school’s management.

At Stratford Academy, teachers have refused to undertake tasks which the unions say distract them from their core role of teaching, and which do not require their skills as qualified teachers.

The headteacher has responded by deducting 15% of their salaries.

NUT general secretary, Christine Blower, said:“The teachers at Stratford Academy are dedicated and committed to the young people they teach.

“Instead of penalising and punishing them, the governors should focus on pressing the Secretary of State to resolve the national trade dispute and end his relentless attacks on the teaching profession.”

The teachers themselves say they have no wish to disrupt classes at the school – and they point out that not a single pupil has had their education compromised by anything the teachers have done prior to being forced to take strike action.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said:“The teachers at Stratford Academy have been seeking to defend their pay and conditions, as part of a national trade dispute with the Secretary of State in which the overwhelming majority of teachers across the country are engaged, without any disruption being caused to pupils and parents.

“The teachers deeply regret the disruption pupils and parents now face but it is entirely due to the hostile and vindictive actions of the governors and school management.”

Staff at Stratford Academy have continued to prepare for and teach lessons, mark and assess pupils’ work and carry out all tasks which they believe assist them in focusing on teaching and learning.

All clubs and activities which teachers run voluntarily in their own time are continuing.

It is likely such strikes may spread.

Similar disputes at schools in Lewisham and Buckinghamshire are thought to be close to triggering strike action.

Having conducted ballots on industrial action, the teaching unions now only have to give a minimum of seven days notice for a strike to take place.

Activists point to last week’s successful withdrawal of a threatened ‘mock inspection’ at a school in the London borough of Tower Hamlets school after notice was given, but without strike action taking place.


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