Teachers at a Northumberland school have gone on strike, saying harmful management practices are having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
Members of NASUWT – the teachers’ union – began the first of a fortnight strike on Tuesday over what they call “adverse management practices” at Bedlington Academy.
The union also claims that management has not put in place effective measures to manage student behavior.
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The school said it would remain open throughout the strike to ensure disruption to children’s learning while preparing for exams is kept to a minimum.
The NASUWT said the teachers, who picketed the school between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, are facing an “excessive and unacceptable” workload.
Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT, said: “Excessive and unnecessarily workload-intensive grading and planning approaches are imposed on teachers in the school, which seriously impede their ability to maintain a work balance. / reasonable life.
“It not only undermines their professionalism as teachers, but also impacts their mental and physical health. This limits the time and energy they have to focus on meeting student needs, which defeats the purpose of providing a high quality learning environment for students.
“This is exacerbated by the employer’s failure to put in place a student behavior management system that helps teachers maintain good order and ensures students can focus on their learning without undue disruption.
“We ask the employer to recognize the seriousness of the problems at the school and to commit to working with us to genuinely and concretely address the concerns of the members.”
Dan Lister, NASUWT national executive member for Northumberland, said the decision to strike was taken as a last resort after the employer failed to resolve the issues.
He said: “Our members just want the right to dignity in the workplace and to be treated with respect.
“We have done everything we can to avoid calling a strike, but the employer has failed to act to effectively address the workloads and working conditions that are detrimental to the well-being of our members.
“The employer must act to fulfill its duty of care to Bedlington teachers and to uphold their right to a healthy work environment.”
However, the North East Learning Trust (NELT), the academy trust that runs the school, criticized the strike for disrupting pupils in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Lesley Powell, CEO of NELT, said: “I am extremely disappointed that after a long period of disruption to children’s learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASWUT and its members have chosen to follow this course of action. .
‘When we sponsored the school Bedlington Academy was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, since then rapid improvements have been made across the board.
“Children in this community, like all children, deserve an exceptional education and our Trust has clearly succeeded in turning the situation around for schools. We therefore cannot in good conscience suspend the policies and procedures that we believe are necessary to support the education of the young people of this academy.
“The teachers at the Academy work an average of 30 hours per week under the direction of the director, which is significantly below their contractual obligations.
“It provides a degree of flexibility that we know many employees appreciate when balancing work and personal commitments. Remuneration and conditions of school teachers.
“We have made every effort, over the past few months, to avoid this action, but unfortunately we are in this position and our attention must now be focused on the young people and ensuring that the school remains open.
The NASUWT said more strike days are scheduled for March 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31 and April 5, 6 and 7.
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