Royal Docks Community School staff strike over academisation plans

Teachers on strike outside the Royal Docks Community School

Teachers on strike outside the Royal Docks Community School - Credit: Archant

Staff at Royal Docks Community School have gone on strike today over plans for it to become an academy.

The Prince Regent Lane secondary school is set to join the Burnt Mill Academy Trust (BMAT) from January 1.

The trust, which is based in Harlow, was established in August 2013 and currently operates eight schools across three Essex towns.

In July this year, a letter signed by Royal Docks headteacher Wendy Bower was sent out to stakeholders, outlining the proposal for the school to become an academy.

She wrote: “Through a multi-academy trust we can collaborate with, learn from, and support other schools.

“We also believe that by working together we can make our money go further and keep school funding focussed on teaching and learning.”

The National Education Union (NEU), whose members are involved in the strike, say that parents were not consulted and that staff were told they have no choice but to accept the takeover.

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The union’s Newham branch secretary-elect Louise Cuffaro said: “Staff want their school to remain a local authority community school.

“There is no good reason to hand over our schools, their buildings and land to multi-academy trusts who have no connection or interest in the local community and the children who attend or will attend our schools in the future.

“Our members have been forced to strike because our employer won’t listen to them and our views against academisation are being ignored.”

A trust spokeswoman refuted the NEU’s claims and said: “Staff and parents have been consulted about academy conversion. A meeting was held with parents in June 2017.

“Royal Docks School and BMAT have been working together in partnership for the last 6 months to support in the school.

“We are looking forward to further improving the quality of teaching at Royal Docks School so that pupils can achieve much higher standards. We know that our support will ensure that Royal Docks becomes an outstanding academy.”

The Royal Docks Community School has been contacted for comment.