Sunderland school hit by strike action as teachers walk out

Staff at a city school will walk out on strike tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27th June 2018, 12:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th June 2018, 12:58 pm
Staff at Washington Academy are to strike tomorrow

Members of the NASUWT Teachers’ Union at Washington Academy will be taking the first of six planned days of strike action.

The union says the action is as a result of the failure of management to respond to 'the deep concerns of teachers at the school about the culture in which they are expected to work, which is having an adverse impact on their working conditions, their health and well-being.'

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: "NASUWT members are dedicated and committed teachers who care about the pupils they teach. Taking strike action is the last thing they want to do but they have been left with no choice.

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"Their deep concerns over pupil indiscipline and excessive workload remain unresolved.

"The NASUWT has attempted at every stage to work with the employer to resolve the issues, however, members have been left with no option other than to take strike action.

"Employers have a legal duty of care for their employees. They should ensure that their health and well-being are safeguarded and they are treated with professional respect and dignity in the workplace. This is not happening.

"We hope that the employer will agree to engage meaningfully with us to fully address members’ concerns so that further strike action can be avoided."

John Hall, NASUWT National Executive Member for Sunderland, added: "Teachers, like all workers, have a right to be treated with dignity and fairness at work, but currently members at Washington Academy do not feel respected and valued and their health and welfare appear to count for little.

"We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience this action causes pupils or parents, but teachers are now at a point where they feel strike action is their only option."

Washington Academy Principal Mike Beverley said: "While we are obviously saddened that union representatives feel the need to commence industrial action, we have to respect the fact that, whatever our own views are, it is the democratic right of the unions and their members to strike.

"What we do find particularly disheartening, however, is that they have raised the behaviour of our students as one of the causes of the grievance.

"In our latest ‘no notice’ Ofsted inspection, which is just a few months old, the inspectors found that 'students’ behaviour appears purposeful and polite. In the lessons they visited, students were calm, courteous and focused on their work.'

"The inspection team also noted that: 'The way you (The Principal) have ensured that staff are given further training in building positive relationships with students, for example through learning how to de-escalate difficult situations, has helped them to converse and relate to students in a calm, considered and positive way.'

"We await evidence and examples of what the union means by 'the bullying of staff' and think it is wrong to disadvantage our students by raising workload as an issue that is apparently solely related to our academy.

"We make no apologies for the need to continue to drive up educational standards in our school; it is something every parent or carer would want us to do. Ensuring a better work life balance for all of our staff is an issue that the education sector as a whole is addressing. Anything we can do support our staff in this area we would gratefully welcome and adopt.

"Washington Academy will be open tomorrow, albeit with a reduced service to our community as we feel passionately that we should continue to support our students. The academy will open as usual at 8am (Breakfast Club) for Year 7 and for specific year groups.

"We will firstly look to ensure some of our more vulnerable students are looked after and then support those getting ready to go into Year 11 from September.

"Our strong desire, however, is for us to be able to have an open and constructive dialogue with the unions that will ensure our students’ education is not adversely impacted."