STRATFORD ACADEMY CONCERNED PARENTS PRESS RELEASE
TEACHERS SUSPEND FURTHER STRIKE ACTION
After nine days of strikes, teachers at Stratford Academy, Newham, have suspended further strike action. Following talks facilitated by ACAS, on Tuesday 27 November, the NUT and NASUWT teachers’ unions and Stratford Academy management agreed a joint press release: “Following constructive talks facilitated by ACAS, all sides have agreed to a process of further discussions to deal with outstanding issues.” The teachers will be reintroducing their unions’ joint national action (short of strike action) measures in opposition to excessive workloads.
It was the Academy management’s outrageous demand that staff must individually promise not to take part in their unions’ joint action that provoked the strike in the first place. Staff who refused to repudiate their unions’ campaign had their wages cut by 15%, with further threats of monthly pay cuts. Nearly half a million teachers, in 23,000 schools, are taking part in the unions’ actions but only Stratford Academy management decided to take punitive action against teachers. Faced with this, teachers took strike action on 25 October, followed by eight more days of strikes, over the next three weeks.
We hope that the final outcome of negotiations will confirm an important victory for the teachers. This would also be a tremendous result for parents and pupils! Our children can then return to school full time and our teachers can return to teaching unbowed and confident they have the full support of parents.
The ‘Stratford Academy Concerned Parents’ group was formed after parents’ views were completed ignored by the Head and Governors. We organised mass leafleting to bring the real facts about the strike to parents and the local community. We held our own packed meetings of parents where it was unanimously decided to condemn the actions of the Head and Governors and to call on senior management to negotiate with teachers, to allow our children to return full time to school.
Under our continuous pressure, eventually the Head Teacher was compelled to call a “meeting of parents” on 20 November. Two hundred parents attended and loudly condemned the confrontational and reckless actions of school management that led to the teachers’ strike. Last Friday, 23 November, a delegation of Concerned Parents met with senior management and presented a motion of ‘no confidence’ to the Head.
Within days, the combined pressure from teachers and parents forced the Head and Governors (the Employers) to negotiate with teachers’ unions.
Areas of concern for parents remain
While teachers’ continue to negotiate over their issues, areas of concern for parents remain, in particular the heavy-handed management culture. But parents have found their voices! Stratford Academy Concerned Parents will continue to campaign for real representation and accountability. We will work to be represented by parent-governors that actually reflect our views on the Board.
We are confident that our example of firm parents and teachers’ unity in the face of bullying senior management will give encouragement to staff and parents in other schools facing similar problems with management.
The experience at Stratford Academy also serves as a warning to staff and parents at other schools where attempts are being made by senior management to turn them into academies, about the sort of regime that might await them. Many parents at Stratford now question the rapid process and minimum so-called “consultation” that led to Stratford becoming an Academy in 2011.
We will endeavour to ensure the magnificent struggle at Stratford Academy is widely known at schools across the country!
StratfordAcademy Concerned Parents