Worthing High School teachers strike over academy plan

Teachers at a school in West Sussex are on strike over plans to turn it into an academy.

Staff at Worthing High School said they had not been consulted over the plans and the governors refused to meet them.

They also said they were worried about possible changes to their terms and conditions.

Head teacher Alison Beer said they had been consulted and the governors believed converting to an academy was best for students.

Academies receive funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority, giving them more freedom over their finances, curriculum and length of school terms.

'Intransigent employer'

They also do not have to follow national pay and conditions for teachers.

Members of two teaching unions, NASUWT and the NUT, voted to go on strike for the day.

Eric Skyte, NASUWT national executive member for West Sussex, said: "Any move to take strike action is never taken lightly but our members are taking this step because they don't feel they have a choice.

"This action has come about as a result of an intransigent employer who has steadfastly refused to listen to or meaningfully discuss its proposals with teachers.

"They do not wish to see any conversion to academy status because they do not believe that the potential changes it may bring to their working conditions will benefit pupils."

Dave Thomas, from the NUT, said the teachers were hoping to try to persuade the governors to think again.

"It's pretty obvious that this academy is deeply unpopular, not only amongst members of staff but also parents and members of the local community," he said.

'Right decision'

Ms Beer said some staff members had found it difficult to accept the planned change owing to "external union pressure".

"The chairman of governors has been constantly reassuring staff that their primary concern over pay and conditions is unfounded both at face-to-face meetings and also in writing," she said.

"Our staff had many opportunities and offers from myself and the governors to sit down and discuss any concerns.

"My focus is on ensuring the needs of students always come first and the governors believe that converting to an academy is the right decision to make for this school and our students."

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