Teachers to strike?

TEACHERS could strike at the start of next term in protest against plans to turn The Kimberley School into an academy.

An informal ballot for industrial action at the school was ‘overwhelmingly carried’ at the end of last term and an official vote will be carried out at the start of the new term, a campaigner has said.

Ian Stevenson, chairman of the protest group Save The Kimberley School, also said more than half of the teachers at the school signed a petition against the plans for the school to be turned in to an academy.

The group was set up to fight the proposals after headteacher Chris Teal registered an interest in securing academy status for the school at the beginning of last month.

Under the plans, the school would be run by a board of governors – as opposed to the local authority – and they would be able to change everything from the curriculum, to teachers’ salaries and pupil selection criteria.

Mr Stevenson is Yorkshire and Midland Regional Secretary for the National Union Teachers but is also a parent of children at the school.

He said: “A school belongs to its community and an academy trust enables a small group of people to control the only school that Kimberley has got.

“It will operate as a private company and if it gets into debt there will be no help from the Government, which could mean staff cuts or pay cuts.

“It’s a bit like Victorian times,” he added. “Local authorities were brought in to solve the problems with schools trying to set different criteria with fees and terms and conditions. We have gone full circle.”

But speaking when the plans were unveiled, Mr Teal said there was a ‘political will’ for schools nationwide to become academies, and he did not want to be left behind.

He admitted the move had caused uncertainty amongst the teaching staff but he vowed there were no intention of changing pay conditions.

And he believes this action will ‘more than likely’ mean they could secure more cash which would help to ‘protect’ the school’s reputation.

“We want to secure the position of this school,” he said. “If we have autonomy we can protect what we have here.”

However, he stressed no decisions had yet been made and said a public consultation will begin next month.