Teaching union halts school strike action

Heanor gate science college unveiling of monument in memory of the fire. Back, Josh Warne, Andrew Collington chairman governors, Simon Kent artist, headteacher Rob Howard, Angela Williams PTFA, Levi Tabbron, Holly Dixon, Front, Alice Brassington, Katie Short, jess Hughes, Charlie Potter and heloise Crofts.
Heanor gate science college unveiling of monument in memory of the fire. Back, Josh Warne, Andrew Collington chairman governors, Simon Kent artist, headteacher Rob Howard, Angela Williams PTFA, Levi Tabbron, Holly Dixon, Front, Alice Brassington, Katie Short, jess Hughes, Charlie Potter and heloise Crofts.

STRIKE action over a controversial move to consider academy status at Heanor Gate Science College has been put on hold.

Teaching staff who are members of the National Association of Schoolmasters’/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) planned to hold a strike at the college on Tuesday morning.

The union is opposed to the ‘outstanding’ Ofsted graded school, which has many pupils from the Ilkeston area, becoming an academy as academies are not bound by national pay and conditions policies.

More than half of all the lessons on the day would have been cancelled as nearly 40 teachers were due to take their place on the picket line.

But strike action was averted after negotiations between school governors and union representatives on Friday, March 11.

The school’s governing body agreed to extend the consultation period over the academy bid, which is yet to be formally submitted. However, National executive member for NASUWT, David Wilkinson, who is acting spokesperson for the union members at Heanor Gate, said the strike had been delayed, but will almost certainly happen at a later date if the academy bid continues.

He said: “We made progress in our discussions with the school’s board of governors on Friday. We agreed to hold off the strike action if they were prepared to extend the consultation period.

“We will resume again if the governors do not postpone the consultation period and the potential of an academy bid exists.”

The school could have switched to academy status at the beginning of a new academic term in September, but extending the consultation means the earliest it could now make the change would be January 2012.

Becoming an academy means it would receive its funding directly from the Government and would be responsible for its own curriculum.

Headteacher Rob Howard was glad the strike had been averted.

He said: “Certainly from the children’s point of view it is good news.

“The key issue is that this gives us more time to consult and to discuss teachers’ pay and conditions. There is still a great degree of uncertainty and we have not agreed anything yet.”

l On Wednesday of last week the school unveiled a memorial to the fire which destroyed the art and technology block there a year ago. The wooden structure was carved by artist Simon Kent.