Staff at Newton-le-Willows embark on three-day strike while in Stourbridge teachers begin second week of action

Tim Lezard
NASUWT members striking at Stourbridge

NASUWT members striking at Stourbridge

NASUWT members at two schools are today taking strike action.

Teachers in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands are continuing the action they started last week as part of a sustained campaign against plans to turn Redhill School into a privately-operated academy.

And staff at Newton-le-Willows Primary School in Merseyside today begin a three-day strike over a new appraisal policy that subjects teachers to unlimited classroom observations.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “No teacher objects to professional, supportive and developmental lesson observation. It’s quality, not quantity of observation which makes a difference.

“The NASUWT is committed to an appraisal system where those who manage teachers engage in a professional dialogue with them, respect them as professionals, and make decisions about their work openly and fairly.

“Unfortunately, the policy adopted by St Helen’s Council is the fallout from the government’s 2012 Regulations, which are used as a punitive management tool to pressurise and intimidate teachers.

“Our members at Newton-le-Willows Primary are hard-working and dedicated. They have sought to avoid taking this action, but have been left with no choice.”

Mick Burrows, National Executive Member for the North West, said: “We have always sought to resolve this by negotiation and remain open to sitting down with the council. This strike action could be avoided if the council and the school ended their dogmatic approach to discussions.”

At Stourbridge, the union is concerned by plans to bring forward a governor’s meeting to increase the chances of a vote for academy status being passed.

Two years ago governors rejected the plans out of hand; late last year they voted 10-8 to proceed with an application to apply for academy status. The vote whether to accept the plan was scheduled to take place in March, but there are discussions to bring it forward to February, so it becomes the last meeting on the cycle for sitting governors, rather than the first meeting of the new cycle.

This would allow pro-academy governors to vote ‘Yes’ before they retire, and would deny anti-academy governors  standing for election the chance to vote ‘No’.

NASUWT executive member Victor Aguera told UnionNews: “If the anti-academy governors get elected, it’ll pretty much be the end of the project, so our concern is the head teacher is bringing forward the meeting to make sure that doesn’t happen. So much for democratic accountability.”

The picket line was this morning visited by NASUWT president Paula Roe, who told UnionNews: “We’ve got a really good turn-out. The spirit is very strong, very supportive. Very few staff have gone into work, and those that have have ben admin staff – the teachers are out.

“Going on strike isn’t something we want to do. It’s against our professional instincts but it’s a last resort because the head isn’t listening to our concerns, and is pushing ahead with disenfranchising governors who want to vote against becoming an academy.

“Nobody wants this to become an academy – the staff don’t, the parents don’t, the community doesn’t because Ofsted tells us this is an outstanding school, with outstanding staff, yet the head is going ahead with it because it gives him more power.”





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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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