OASIS Media City Salford to strike on Tuesday 22nd November

NUT and NASUWT members at OASIS Media City academy in Salford are on strike on Tuesday 22nd October against redundancies. They have been told that 12 staff are to lose their jobs.

The announcement led to student protests and the annoucement that the staff are to strike.

Messages of support for the strike should be sent urgently to a.gilmore@nut.org.uk and charlotte.metters@mail.nasuwt.org.uk

Debs Gwyn is a former NUT rep at Media City. She reports

“Relations with Oasis were strained from the start of the Academy project.  The staff were told by the then Director of Children’s Services, Jill Baker, that unless we accepted academy status the school would close.”
“When Oasis issued their proposed academy structure in 2008 they were planning to make 18 teachers (nearly 25% of the teaching staff) redundant. The unions negotiated four volontary enhanced packages and no further job losses.”
“When the academy opened in September 2008 there were hardly any policies available to or agreed by the unions.  We were promised a new build by 2010 but the school is not moving into its new premises until September 2012 at the earliest.”
“It became clear to me that Oasis had a business model of how they wanted their Academies to operate and they did not consider local factors or characteristics of the predecessor school.”

While the experience of working in OASIS academies doesn’t appear to be very great, it appears to be different at the top of OASIS. Charity Commission figures for 2008 / 2009 show a marked increase in pay for the top earners

Below we print a letter we received from a member of staff at Media City, it does not tell a story of a happy school.

“Staff morale at the school or should I say Academy is at rock bottom in light of the excessive workload and the pace of change in the last year. When the previous head left we had achieved our best ever GCSE results. However, were told by the new head that we were not as good as we thought we were which totally demoralised the staff. The previous head had kept Oasis at bay and didn’t give in to their demands. It seems the new head is very much an Oasis person put in place to do a job i.e. get rid of people. Indeed he was overheard at a primary school meeting saying he would get rid of the ‘deadwood’. This certainly has happened. On top this lots of new things were introduced such as KPI’S (Key Performance Indicators), new behaviour systems etc., although good and effective systems were in place. The pace of change was relentless and staff morale was increasingly declining because of the oppressive leadership. No one dare say anything because everyone was vulnerable which was the message we were constantly given. Everything was/is imposed, there is no forum for healthy debate-basically we are told what to do- how to plan, how to teach etc..

In the meantime the behaviour of the students was getting worse and it came to a head 2 weeks ago when they staged a protest over the redundancies. There has been very little communication with students or parents and when the students found out who was leaving they were/ are not happy. Since the announcement of the redundancies staff and student morale is at rock bottom.

If the redundancy process had started in March then it would have given staff to look for alternative employment but it has been rushed through and they have waited until the 3 years of safeguarding is over so they can take away allowances (which they have) and they have to pay out less.

It is also quite amazing that despite knowing about the redundancies they appointed another Vice Principal a few months ago who earns the salary of 2 or 3 ordinary teachers. The appointment was quite interesting as he was the only candidate despite a national advert! So we have 2 non-teaching vice principals who are both doing the Future Leaders course and will soon move onto headships. It is very much like an old boy’s network as Sir Ian Hall set up the Future Leaders and recently he was asked to step in at the Oldham Oasis. We had a vice principal last year who stayed with us for some months and then became head at the Immingham Oasis! John Murphy who is the director of education at Oasis is also director of Future Leaders I think. It seems many future leaders are coming from industry.

The ethos of the present leadership has very much been one of divide and conquers. However, in recent weeks staff has become very disillusioned and both unions balloted their members for strike action as the leadership seemed totally unaware of the situation! Strike action is imminent!

The Salford Star has really summed up well what is going on at Media City and the fact that parents have very little idea about what is going on. We achieved our best results last year with smaller classes which ensured that staff could cope. This year we all much bigger classes and are told to get on with it with little support. We are still expected to get outstanding results. The head wants us to be outstanding at everything, no excuses whatsoever! Another reason for the decline in staff morale is the fact that good teachers are now being graded satisfactory or inadequate which has produced lots of tears and disillusionment. This obviously has a big impact on the students and most staff feel they are child minding rather than teaching. In January non-specialists will teach certain subjects and will be expected to get good results. The students are not happy and very concerned as many of these classes will be GCSE classes hence their hostility.

To sum up the running of the school leaves a lot to be desired- it is very robotic and there is no time for reflection. We must do as we are told and there is a complete lack of emotional intelligence.”

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2 Responses to OASIS Media City Salford to strike on Tuesday 22nd November

  1. klaus.c says:

    yes I cannot agree more.

    Nothing wrong with Tories cutting spending to meet budget targets but policy makers must realise that education is an investment that cannot be written off as if its candy pocket money.

    Today’s children will become the pillars of our society in future.
    It is a core investment that any serious government should put into their society if they want a strong, wealthy country for the future.

    In the short term, I am sure the party in power can flaunt their reduced budget and tell every Uk citizen proudly that they have cleared the mess but in the long run… I fear that will not be the case.

    Education should not suffer from cuts and if so, should be the last ones to be affected.

  2. alan monks says:

    This is the tories agenda to bring about privatised education. It is the parents position to reject these Academies before it is to late.

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