Cornwall Council "disappointed" by planned Heamoor School strike action
4:40pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
Cornwall Council has said it is “extremely disappointed” that some teachers at Heamoor Community Primary School are planning to strike tomorrow.
The teachers that are members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are following joint industrial action agreed with another teachers’ union, in protest over workload issues.
An NUT spoksman said: “This action aims to ensure that the teachers’ contractual conditions of service are adhered to and that in operating performance management, reporting to parents and other duties which they perform as part of their jobs they are not subject to excessive workload.
“One aim of this action is to free teachers from bureaucratic tasks so they can concentrate on teaching and it is intended to have only a positive impact on students.”
A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said this afternoon that it was disappointing teachers had chosen this action rather than “continue with the dialogue” brokered by the authority between the school and the union, saying this could “only damage the education of the pupils who attend the school.”
The spokesperson added: “Heamoor School is working within the guidance provided by the Department for Education and by the authority and is operating in exactly the same way as every other school in Cornwall. “Unfortunately the NUT members at the school have decided to take an aggressive and wholly unhelpful approach to the discussions, preferring to make ‘non negotiable’ demands rather than entering into meaningful discussions.”
She added that governors and the local authority had met with the staff and the NUT on “numerous occasions” over the past few months and had offered to continue to do so.
“Regrettably the regional official from the NUT has declined to have further meetings at the school,” she said.
“The NUT continues to demand that the staff have the right of veto in how the school is run and are demanding that the headteacher must agree in advance with the staff before either she or members of the governing body are allowed to visit any of the classrooms. This is obviously something which no headteacher could agree to.
“The head and local authority have tried to give assurances to staff about visits and are committed to continuing discussions on this issue but, sadly, the NUT would not compromise in its demand.
“Both the Local Authority and the school feel strongly that this dispute is entirely avoidable and is being used by the NUT as part of their national campaign. It is very regrettable that children and local communities should suffer as a result of this situation.”
She said the local authority would continue to support the headteacher and governors and we remain open and willing to meet with the NUT at any time should they wish to continue discussions.
Governors have written to all parents to explain that the school will be closed to the majority of pupils on a number of days in January and February.
The seven days of proposed strike action are Thursday January 31, Tuesday February 5, Wednesday February 6, Thursday February 7, Tuesday February 12, Wednesday February 13 and Thursday February 14.
As six out of the seven class teachers at the school are members of the NUT the strike action will affect the majority of classes.
In a statement the school’s governing body said it recognised teachers’ current professional concerns and frustrations in relation to pay and pensions, but had “significant reservations” about the NUT’s current campaign of action, as those most affected (pupils, school leaders and governing bodies) were not in a position to resolve the dispute as it was with the Secretary of State for Education and not with them, the employer.
“We have attempted to enter into negotiations with staff and regional representatives of the NUT throughout this process. Unfortunately, however, this has not proved successful and as the school is not equipped to look after children without teaching staff, we have no choice but to ask parents to make alternative arrangements for the seven days of industrial action.
“We recognise that this will cause inconvenience to parents and carers and would like to apologise for this,” added the governors.