Friday 25 November 2011

Fight goes on to save Otley Prince Henry’s school

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copied from Wharfedale Observer

A packed public meeting has backed votes of no confidence in the headteacher and governors of Prince Henry’s Grammar School.

The vote, supported by the vast majority of a 260-strong crowd on Tuesday, comes as teachers prepared to begin their sixth day of strike action over the school’s plan to become an academy. The meeting, held at Otley All Saints parish Church, also agreed to:

  • Stage an anti-academy march and rally in Otley, starting outside the school at 11am, on Saturday.
  • Send a deputation to London to raise the community’s concerns over the change, which was passed by one governor vote despite staff and parent opposition, directly with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.
  • Bombard Mr Gove, headteacher Janet Sheriff, and school governors with e-mails stating their opposition.

Otley’s Vicar, Rev Graham Buttanshaw, has also weighed into the row. In his letter to Prince Henry’s, Rev Buttanshaw claims the remaining governors – nine resigned – have no “moral authority” to proceed while the community is so divided over the issue.

The school’s management team, meanwhile, has hit back at critics by hailing the financial boost it will receive for its first 12 months as an academy.

Prince Henry’s will receive just over £42,000 a month extra if it converts, as scheduled, on December 1 – enough, according to Mrs Sheriff, to save ten teaching jobs.

Academy opponents, however, claim the extra funding will end after only a few years.

Mrs Sheriff also claims to have offered to provide written assurances over teachers’ pay and conditions under the academy regime, only for them to be rejected by the NASUWT and NUT.

But both unions insist they would have suspended this week’s three-day strike if the school had agreed to its request for a pause in the academy process to allow a parental ballot – something denied during the academy consultation.

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