Teacher’s strike battles headteacher sacking

Seven members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Listerdale Primary School in Rotherham have taken two days of strike action (2-3 December) against the unjustified suspension of their headteacher.

The head was suspended by the Academy Trust in September at 8am one morning without union representation. The reasons for the suspension still haven’t been made clear, even the head himself doesn’t know!

Rotherham NUT branch secretary Fred Sprague told me: “The Trust have said its not for safeguarding reasons, he hasn’t run off with the school fund and he can’t impede the investigation because he doesn’t know why he’s being investigated. So this suspension is unjustified and we are demanding his re-instatement while any investigation continues.”

The head has been in post at the school for six years and is known to speak his mind. The school was “Academised” last year and is in budget deficit so the suspicion amongst staff is that the head’s suspension is related to all this.

The NUT members began action short of a strike in late October against job cuts and reduced hours of teaching assistants and school support staff and the increased workload due to the head’s suspension. But the Academy Trust had refused any negotiations and stated that “the services of ACAS are not required”.

Most parents are supportive of the action – they weren’t even informed that the head had been suspended until after half-term. 75 people, mostly parents, attended an NUT called public meeting last night (Dec 3).

One striking teacher told me: “We’ve been in a bit of a bubble. Nice cosy little school where everybody gets on. Although I was in the union I always wondered why any teacher would need to go on strike. Now I know.”

Another said “Just out of interest I googled ‘teachers strike’ and was shocked by how many are going on around the country. But then felt re-assured that its not just us then.”

Two days strike action, closing six out of ten classes, has forced the Trust to agree to meet the union at ACAS tomorrow night, Dec 4. Depending on the outcome of that, the NUT are prepared to take more strike action next week if necessary.

Messages of support to Fred Sprague, email: [email protected]