Staff suspended at East Ham school: Union plans strike action

Six senior members of staff at East Ham’s Langdon School have been suspended following results of a probe into serious allegations about “management and administrative matters”.

It is understood that the allegations relate to matters at the Sussex Road school between 2004 and 2009.

It is believed the allegations were made to the school in June and an investigation was started. Disciplinary matters have now begun under the school’s conduct procedures. In letter sent to parents and carers over the weekend, Mr David Benn, chair of the school’s governing body, vlnfirmed that the suspensions followed “an intitial independent investigation into serious allegations regarding management and administrative matters.”

Mr Benn’s letter said:”As you know at Langdon School we strive to continually develop and improve the quality of education for our children and young people. When we are made aware of issues that prevent us from doing so, wee take swift and decisive action.”

The six members of staff we informed of their suspensions by head teacher Dr Manuzah Tabassum on Friday afternoon. The pupils are now on their half term break.

A spokesman for Newham Council said: “Six senior members of staff at Langdon School have been suspended following an initial independent investigation into serious allegations. The school has put in place temporary staffing arragements to ensure that the quality of education received by pupils is protected.

“Parents and carers have been made aware of the temporary changes to management at the school and the head will be ensuring after half-term that all pupils understand what has happened. We cannot provide further information while the disciplinary processes continue.”

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The disciplinary procedures began under the school’s conduct procedures.

Members of the National Union of Teachers at the Langdon School announced on Monday night that they are to take strike action next Wednesday and Thursday following a failure to reach agreement at ACAS about a dispute concerning what they call oppressive management and workload.

Members of the Union have already staged a one day strike in July.

An NUT spokesman said: “Following a request from the school, the NUT postponed further strike action, and at the request of the school a meeting was arranged at ACAS. The Union had been hopeful that the meeting at ACAS would result in a settlement of the dispute. A great deal of progress was made in the talks and there was every reason to believe that both sides could reach agreement. However, the school, having persuaded the Union to go to ACAS and suspend its strike action, took no steps whatsoever following the meeting to agree a draft communiqu�.

“The Union believes it has no alternative, given the severity of the dispute, to take further strike action in the school. The Union has now been informed that four of its members, who are in the Senior Management Team, have been suspended. These members of the Union took strike action previously and have also reported, using the school’s whistleblowing procedure, the headteacher in respect of what they considered to be inappropriate conduct.”

Tim Harrison NUT London Regional Secretary said “I am very concerned about the situation in Langdon School. Whilst the Union is ready to find a positive way forward, the Governors and the Headteacher have refused to follow up the constructive proposals discussed at ACAS but instead appear to have rejected any agreement. Many members are working in an intolerable situation which the Union cannot stand by and accept”.

The Union conducted a workload survey in the summer term which indicated, overwhelmingly, members’ concern about their workload and the management style being adopted in the school. The overwhelming response to the survey indicated to the Union the depth of feeling that existed. The Union then engaged in three sets of negotiations and sought to reach agreement to avoid the intensification of the dispute through further strike action. The National Union of Teachers and its members at Langdon School remain determined to resolve the dispute through consultation and agreement, but if necessary will continue to take strike action as it appears to be the only means of bringing the strength of feeling of our members on the issue to the attention of the Local Authority and Governing Body of the School.

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “This irresponsible action will only result in children losing out in their education and further inconvenience for busy parents and carers. The suspension by the school of six staff members, who are now subject to disciplinary procedures, was the result of an initial independent investigation into allegations dating from 2004 to 2009, before the arrival of the new head teacher. The education of children will remain the key priority of both the council and the school.”