Monday 7 November 2011

Otley Prince Henry’s school to strike for 6 days against academy plan

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“Last week the NUT and NASUWT gave notice of a significant program of strike action at Otley Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, Leeds in opposition to the transfer of their members employment to an academy. The first action will be a one day strike on Thursday November 10th but that will be followed by two and three day strikes over the next two weeks.
The school governing body voted on October 11th to proceed to academy conversion from December 1st. During the consultation period the school convened two very well-attended public meetings. At both meetings votes were held and opposition to academy status was almost unanimous (71 against and 2 for at the second meeting). A survey of all staff carried out by the school showed that around two thirds were opposed. The governing body have been split down the middle and since the decision to convert nine governors have resigned in protest at the decision.
NASUWT members were balloted in July and have already been taking action short of strike action. The NUT balloted in October and both unions decided to move to strike action which would be co-ordinated. The two unions have given notice that beyond this Thursday November 10th we are calling on members to strike;
  • for two days on Wednesday November 16th and Thursday November 17th and
  • for three days on Tuesday November 22nd, Wednesday November 23rd and Thursday November 24th
The scale of the action has been determined by the GB’s insistence on rushing the conversion through by December 1st and the failure to heed any of the consultation responses. We felt there was no value in a token protest and that significant action was required between now and December 1st. Members of both unions are, as ever, being subject to considerable pressure not to support the strike and any and all support for them will help boost morale. Please send any messages of support to the NASUWT at leedsnasuwt@nasuwt.net or the NUT at leedsnut@btconnect.com
thanks
Patrick Murphy                                                      Steve Thompson
Division Secretary,Leeds NUT                           Secretary,Leeds NASUWT
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12 comments

  1. Jean Wood said:

    Go for it! Academies threaten educational standards, accountability and employment rights.

    7 November 2011 at 10:11pm
  2. Simon Harvey said:

    We all understand the purpose of academies: to make a school accountable directly to central government and not to local people. That’s to say, the exact reverse of what the government claims. How, after all, is a headmaster who answers only to the Secretary of State accountable to local people? The pay and conditions of teaching staff are squeezed, while senior managers claim substantial salaries for performing nebulous and questionable roles. If a parent raises a complaint and is dissatisfied with the way it’s dealt with, where does he or she go next? Michael Gove? The academy system is innately insidious.

    7 November 2011 at 10:24pm
  3. Dave Smithy said:

    The unions informed the Governors and Head about the industrial action last Wednesday. The Governors only bothered to tell the parents today, deliberately making it difficult for parents to arrange childcare,whilst using the opportunity to insult the staff and make an amateurish attempt to reduce the overwhelming parental support for staff.
    The sign of a responsible leadership capable of running a successful school? I think not.
    No teacher at the school wants to take strike action, the unions went to great lengths to try and avoid this and negotiate more consultation time but this was rejected. This action is the absolute last resort to avoid the disaster of becoming an Acadamy.
    I hope that other parents will continue to support them in the superb way they have done so far. I know I will.

    8 November 2011 at 7:00pm
  4. Helen said:

    I think the vast majority of people are supporting the striking teachers. The bottom line for me personally was that they did not inform the parents of the full story and have tried to treat us like a bunch of idiots.

    Now we have a situation where this decision is being pushed through with only half a governing body and no sign of any elections for replacements in the near future which is very suspicious to me. We can’t really complain to the LEA because what good will that do – they’re no longer involved in the school and we can’t complain to the government because they want all schools to go this way, regardless if it is the right thing to do.

    They say there will be no sponsorship but down the line the school will have to expand and who will pay for that? I’m aware that Mrs Sheriff’s husband is the head of Harrogate Grammar which became an academy earlier this year. That school has plenty of parents and will have no trouble raising the money to expand but Prince Henry’s is not in that position so it seems inevitable that we will see sponsorship at the school at some point.

    The worse thing about this is that in other areas parents can walk with their feet and send their children to other schools. For the majority of Otley parents this is the only school and therefore to have control taken away and put at the feet of central government is terrifying. At least the LEA had elected councillors in place who spoke for the local community.

    As a parent, I’ve set up a facebook page and have put a link for it above. If you’re a local person, parent of student of the school please please join us and show the teachers just how much support there is for their action.

    14 November 2011 at 8:58am
  5. Chris Baxter said:

    Well done both teachers and parents for standing up to the governers.The school I work in is considering becoming an academy and the vast majority of us are against it.If like minded groups of individuals with the school at their heart get together there is always the chance of reversing the decision of ideologically blinkered governers.

    16 November 2011 at 1:10pm
  6. Alan Percy said:

    There is undue haste being taken here, to stifle debate it would seem.
    With the governors split it would be wrong to proceed without at least a 2/3rds majority. The headmaster should re-open the consultation and try to win over those opposed with all the issues properly answered. It is clear the headmaster is seeking to increase her responsibilities with the attendant salary rise, that is what is driving the move.

    16 November 2011 at 11:23pm
  7. Simon said:

    I am surprised that the Unions have taken so much action at PHGS and disrupted the children’s education to such an extent. I have not seen the same Unions protesting outside the other schools in Leeds which have recently converted to Academy Status or remember any action against the Academy’s which were compelled to convert under the last labour government with the same changes in teachers terms and condensation.
    I now understand the Unions have refused to enter in to discussions with the school and refused mediation with ACAS. The Unions are now showing their true colours this is not about terms and condensation but political action why else would they reuse mediation with ACAS!
    But worst of all it’s the children’s education which is suffering the most and it looks as this is a very low priority to the Unions, Shame on you.

    21 November 2011 at 1:41pm
  8. Jane said:

    Unfortunately, the evidence is that children’s education will suffer even more if teachers do not take action. I don’t know of any teacher who does not put the education of children first. The fact that some teachers do not take action against academisation is an indication of how trusting they are when they are promised that there will be extra money and greater freedoms, but that nothing else will change.

    21 November 2011 at 2:12pm
  9. Andrea Wilson said:

    Jane – where is your evidence that the children will suffer more if teachers do not take this action? Prove it and stop using children’s education.
    I do wish failed ex teachers would retire gracefully.

    21 November 2011 at 6:53pm
  10. Jane said:

    Andrea: I’m afraid you have proved the point about teachers’ commitment to education. How can I possibly “retire gracefully” when I see everything I worked so hard to achieve being destroyed? Perhaps, given your postings, you should come clean about your vested interest?

    There is evidence that, in general, a) academies have not improved education and b) that where exam results have apparently improved this has been as a result of entering students for exams which improve the school’s position in the league tables, and not what may be in the child’s interest. If you look around this site you will find the links to the information you need.

    21 November 2011 at 10:15pm
  11. Guy said:

    I’m an old student and can’t tell you how disappointed I am to hear about the Academy plan. As far as old students go, I’m not alone in this view.

    Support to all those on strike.

    22 November 2011 at 2:55pm
  12. Richard said:

    There is currently no evidence either way about whether converter academy status will be good, bad or indifferent!

    Whilst i can understand why school leaders might not want to go down the route of court challenges to these sorts of strikes against tupe of staff to new employer, i am sure it is only a matter of time! If the new school is honouring existing t&cs then there are no legal grounds for strike action thanks to Thatcher’s excreable anti-democratic anti-union legislation.

    23 November 2011 at 1:15am