Newham teachers strike again against proposals to turn schools into academies

NUT members at Rokeby School to oppose the change of employer that would result from the school obta

NUT members at Rokeby School to oppose the change of employer that would result from the school obtaining academy status. - Credit: Archant

Teachers are striking for the second time this month over proposals to turn three Newham schools into an academy trust.

Members of the National Union of Teachers, formed picket lines outside Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell schools today in strike action which is set to continue until Thursday.

Industrial action is taking place after a proposal was put through to unite Rokeby, Lister and Sarah Bonnell schools under a multi-academy trust earlier this year.

However, a spokesman from Newham Council and a joint statement from the head teachers at Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell schools, called the NUT’s decision not to postpone strike action as “disappointing”.

The second set of strikes follows on from a one day protest outside Rokeby School in Barking Road, Canning Town, on June 2, and it is taking place after talks between the National Union of Teachers and Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell schools fell through last week.

Peter Smith, NUT divisional secretary, said: “Having been engaged in talks for eight hours, we have been unable to resolve our trade disputes with Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell schools despite our best efforts.”

He added: “Despite some progress in certain areas, the schools have called off negotiations and the trade disputes continue.”

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A joint statement from the headteachers at Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell schools reads: “The NUT’s decision not to postpone their strike action is disappointing but the schools will remain open and there will not be any disruption to our students’ education.

“The NUT’s position ignores the realities of the need for schools to find new ways to work together and appears to have no interest in the substance of the proposal to form the Newham Community Schools Trust.

“This proposal is exceptional in its commitment to recognise unions, protect staff pay and conditions, and to maintain our comprehensive and inclusive values.”

However, NUT member Miriam Schaff said turning the schools into an academy trust would be “detrimental”.

She added: “The idea that academies improve schooling is a big sham. It is actually state comprehensive schools that are making the best progress, not academies.

“On top of this we are facing cuts to the education system which means competition will increase between academy schools and this will be detrimental for the education system.”

A spokesman for Newham Council said the schools governors will now vote “on whether or not to proceed with the establishment of the Multi-Academy Trust”.

He added: “The formation of a MAT would not see the terms and conditions for staff employed at the schools change.

“The schools have made a clear commitment to maintaining staff pay and conditions which either match or better those they currently receive.

“In addition, the schools have been working to negotiate a settlement with the National Union of Teachers.”

Teachers also plan to strike for between Tuesday and Thursday next week.