Teachers plan strike action over ‘hostile takeover’ of Stevenage school

PUBLISHED: 08:24 06 December 2018

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Strike action will be taken by teaching staff at a Stevenage secondary school “to defend it from a hostile takeover” by a multi-academy trust.

More than 1,100 people have signed a petition against January’s planned forced academisation of The Barclay School.

The school was rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2016, placed in special measures and put under an academy order by the Department for Education.

But under a new headteacher and senior leadership team it has progressed to requires improvement, with elements of good, and parents are desperate to maintain the status quo.

With a 96 per cent vote in favour of action, National Education Union members will strike on Wednesday, with Barclay teaching staff creating a picket line outside the Walkern Road school.

The union is calling on Herts County Council to halt plans and conduct a public consultation, including a community ballot.

NEU school representative Jill Borcherds said: “Barclay is now fully staffed with a great team of specialist teachers and support staff. We are proud of the improvements, but are now facing a period of great uncertainty.”

There is no evidence academies improve outcomes for pupils, Paul McLaughlin, eastern regional secretary of the NEU said.

He added: “Academy trusts are non-accountable private bodies that can employ unqualified teachers and pay excessive executive salaries, diverting public money away from the classroom and badly-needed school resources.

“At a time when Government funding of schools is inadequate, we should not further risk their future by placing The Barclay School out of community control.

“We are forced to take action to defend the school from a hostile takeover.”

Peter Hawkins, for parents’ campaign group Hands off Barclay, said: “We fully understand the teaching staff’s uncertain situation and lack of options, so wholeheartedly support their proposed strike action to safeguard the future of the school.”

Chair of governors Nicky Clarke said: “We continue to wait for a response from the Department of Education to our request to meet to discuss our concerns.

“The unions have kept us fully informed of their intentions and we hope the DfE will react swiftly to prevent this action.”

HCC said it is not involved in the decision, which is down to the regional schools’ commissioner.

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