Birmingham primary school teachers balloted over academy issue

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Teachers at 13 Birmingham primary schools are being balloted for strike action over plans for them to become academies, a union has announced.

Members were angry that "the change of employer" may have a significant impact on terms and conditions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it was "very disappointed" unions were balloting teachers to consider action.

The city council said alternatives to academy conversion were considered.

NUT Midlands regional secretary Kit Armstrong said "significant pressure" was being put on the head teachers of the 13 schools to "jump" before being "forced" by the DfE to become academies.

'Consistently underperforming'

She said: "I believe it is the only option being proposed to these 13 schools. They are at different stages, but we are confident we can resist it."

The union said NUT members have asked to be balloted, alongside colleagues in other unions.

The DfE said it was working with local authorities on how best to improve underperforming schools.

A spokeswoman said strike action would "not achieve anything positive" and "be hugely damaging to the children's education".

She added that getting help from an academy sponsor was the "best way to improve schools that are consistently underperforming and letting pupils down."

Academies are funded directly by central government rather than through their local authority and they have more freedoms to opt out of the national curriculum and change term and even day length.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said the city had a number of underperforming schools and a "radical response" was needed.

He added: "Becoming an academy or working with a network of academy schools may be the best way of ensuring sustained improvement."

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