Monday 18 July 2011

Kingsbury High could face strikes over academy vote

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A KINGSBURY school will apply for academy status but could face strikes and risks becoming a “cause celebre”, teaching unions claims.

Kingsbury High School governors voted in a meeting yesterday to push ahead with proposals to cut their ties with Brent Council, according to a joint statement from three teaching unions.

The move comes after a ballot of staff organised by governors showed around 85 per cent were against the proposals and parents are said to be forming their own opposition.

Hank Roberts, junior vice-president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “I think it’s inconceivable with an 85 per cent vote against that there won’t be a strike unless they back off on this.

“I cannot see it with that degree of opposition to what’s going on.”

The unions have for some time been vowing to hold a formal ballot for strike action in the event of a decision in favour of applying for academy status.

Mr Roberts said they intend to ballot and the process will start before the end of term and it is thought it will close on September 8.

A joint statement from the ATL, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and NASUWT says the school is acting undemocratically and is not consulting.

It warns: “To press ahead with all their stakeholders clearly and overwhelmingly against would turn Kingsbury into a cause celebre for all those who hold democratic values.

“It would be unprecedented – not just in Brent but nationally. To risk this would be a step too far for a Head or Governor who values their reputation in the school and community.”

No one at the school was available for comment.

from Harrow Times

Joint Union statement

Over 4/5th of staff vote AGAINST ACADEMY STATUS

STAFF VIEWS IGNORED AS HEAD INDICATES HE WILL PRESS FOR ACADEMY STATUS IRRESPECTIVE OF PARENTAL OR PUPIL OPINION

ñ        At the Governors meeting Thursday night (14th July) the Head concealed from Governors the fact that he had received formal notification from the Teacher Unions of a ballot for industrial

action if the vote to apply went ahead.

ñ        In advance of the meeting he refused requests by the Local Secretaries for a meeting to seek a mutually agreeable way ahead to avoid a ballot for industrial action. Even on the day he failed

to respond to repeated phonecalls.

ñ        The Head broke his promise to parents that he would tell them in advance of the Governors meeting whether or not he would advocate a pause in the process and a parental ballot.

ñ        He misled parents by saying they would be told the result of the staff ballot. They have not been told. They clearly should have been told before the vote to apply.

ñ        The Head advocated going ahead with no business plan having been provided, with no risk assessments having been done or provided, with no parental ballot having taken place and no

proper pupil consultation.

ñ        The Head of the Finance Committee said that they had ‘chosen to have a deficit’. This despite the Head telling parents that the deficit was due to Governors failure to ‘grasp the nettle’

regarding the school’s financial situation.

ñ        The Head said that becoming an Academy, that is doing what Gove wants the school to do, would put Kingsbury in a better position to fight Gove if necessary. This despite the fact that the

Secretary of State will ultimately have sole control of the school and its finances.

ñ        The Head misled Governors by saying that the staff’s only real objections were the loss of the requirement for national pay and conditions and it being part of the privatising of state education

agenda. He did not state that the prime concern of staff is the long-term harm this would do to the education of Kingsbury pupils.

ñ        Unions were accused of scaremongering about the potential loss of pay and conditions.

ñ        Statements were made about long-term financial gains to the school (‘for the life of this Government’) on the basis of no supporting evidence.

ñ        The main and longest speakers at the meeting were the Headteacher (in favour), a so-called ‘neutral’ advisor (clearly in favour), ‘Associate members’ of the Governing Body (members of the

SLT – in favour). All of these people are paid by the school. It is not in the spirit of good governance to have non-volunteers with such influence on such important decisions. Those who asked in

advance of the meeting to speak against were told ‘no’.

We believe a good Headteacher:

ñ        Would not ignore the views of the overwhelming majority of their staff.

ñ        Would have properly and democratically established parent’s views (as he did teachers) before pressing ahead.

ñ        Would not have concealed from Governors that the school had received formal notification for a ballot for strike action if the Governors went ahead at this time.

The situation is now becoming ludicrous. How can any school be considered normal, consultative and democratic where a small group of individuals propose such significant changes, without the

support of any of their stakeholders?

The literally thousands of staff, parents and pupils who ARE the school.

All pretences of consultation and democracy have now been exposed as the sham they clearly always were. For the Headteacher to expect any member of staff to accept his ‘guarantees’ on pay

and conditions when he has acted so dishonourably on this matter would be absurd.

In light of Mr Waxman’s behaviour we suspect that he may also:

ñ        Like Claremont, seek to bring forward the date for conversion despite promises to the contrary.

ñ        Seek to rush and manipulate the parental ballot (if one occurs at all).

ñ        Not have any proper and democratic consultative process with pupils.

Despite this, we believe, Kingsbury WILL NOT become an Academy. It will  be too difficult to resist staff opposition, industrial action and united parental and pupil opposition.

To press ahead with all their stakeholders clearly and overwhelmingly against would turn Kingsbury into a cause celebre for all those who hold democratic values.  It would be unprecedented – not

just in Brent but nationally. To risk this would be a step too far for a Head or Governor who values their reputation in the school and community.

The democratically untenable position of the Head and Governors cannot be sustained. Together we will ensure democratic values prevail.

Hank Roberts NUT/ATL Secretary & Shane Johnschwager NASUWT Secretary

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