School strike plan warning

Heanor Gate Science College Rob Howard headteacher
Heanor Gate Science College Rob Howard headteacher

teachers at Heanor Gate Science College are set to strike over what they claim is the school’s “foolhardy” bid for academy status.

Some staff who are members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) are due toman a picket line at the Kirkley Drive school on Tuesday and Wednesday next week (June 29 and 30) unless a compromise can be reached with the governing board.

The union is opposed to academy schools because they do not have to conform to national terms and conditions of service for teachers. It also fears academies could have their curriculum dictated by private sponsors.

NASUWT members began a continuous boycott of what they claim is ‘red tape’ and ‘unnecessary workload’ in the school from Monday, June 20, onwards.

The union’s national executive member for Derbyshire, Dave Wilikinson, who represents 37 members at Heanor Gate, claims the school’s governing body has gone back on its word since an agreement between the two sides was reached in March that no decision about academy status would be taken until early September.

But NASUWT claims Heanor Gate has done a U-turn after a government document showed the college had submitted its application for academy status already, without consultation.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The school has not kept its agreement with NASUWT and full responsibility for the strike action lies with the governing body.

“All the industrial action will be called off if the governors abandon their foolhardy plans to make Heanor Gate into an independent school.”

In March, the NASUWT threatened strike action, but after discussions, agreed not to take industrial action until June 24. In return the school agreed not to make a decision about academy status until September, he said.

Headmaster Rob Howard said: “In the eyes of governors nothing has changed and there is clearly no basis for any strike action at this stage.

“In fact, no attempt was made by the union to contact me to say that strike action was being considered and could we meet to try and resolve the issue.”

A spokeswoman for the school said exams would not be affected.

If the strike goes ahead the school will close to years 7 and 8 on June, 28, 29 and 30 and to year 9 on June 28 and 30.

The school is open for years 10 and 12 as teaching cover has been arranged, she said.