Brecon High School teachers to strike over jobs

Brecon High School
Image caption The industrial action starts on Thursday with further strikes planned in March and April

Twenty-eight teachers at a Powys school are to stage six one-day strikes amid concern over compulsory redundancies, says their union.

The NASUWT union claimed six jobs were under threat at Brecon High School, which has 800 pupils and 45 teachers.

The industrial action starts on Thursday, while further strikes are planned on 30 and 31 March and 5, 6 and 7 April, said officials.

Head teacher Ingrid Gallagher said the school had more staff than it needed.

The chair of the school governors said he was "dismayed" by the decision to take strike action.

Parents have been told that the school will be closed to all pupils on Thursday, apart from sixth form students and staff not involved in the action.

The NASUWT has accused the school's governors of financial mismanagement and said they had turned a £100,000 surplus into a projected £650,000 deficit in three years.

The school denied poor management saying action had been taken for a number of years to get to grips with an expected deficit caused by "reduced funding and falling school numbers".

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The decision to resort to compulsory redundancy rather than manage the budget deficit through voluntary means demonstrates contempt for the livelihoods of the teachers who have provided exemplary service to the school and the local authority.

"The NASUWT will not stand idly by and allow any school or local authority to treat teachers in this way.

"Financial mismanagement has caused the problems at the school. The local authority must now find a financial solution."

Rex Phillips of the NASUWT in Wales said its members could pay for the school's problems "with their jobs and their livelihoods".

He added: "The NASUWT is clear that the situation can be managed over the three-year budget cycle without the need to resort to compulsory redundancy.

"The school has failed to exercise the necessary prudence over its management structures and its budget."

Vacant posts

Head teacher Ingrid Gallagher said "positive action" had been taken to tackle an "anticipated budget deficit caused by reduced funding and falling school numbers".

She added: "Teaching costs have been cut by more than 10% over the last three years despite year-on-year pay increases, and vacant posts have not been filled where possible.

"As a result the school has reduced its staffing levels by more than 10 since 2007.

"Brecon, alongside many others in Powys, is having to deal with financial cuts and the impact of having significantly less students in the secondary sector.

"Regrettably this means the school has to lose teachers, but with fewer pupils this can be done while maintaining standards and providing excellent quality achievements.

"Strike action will not disguise the fact that Brecon High School has more staff than it needs and has to take positive action."

Chair of the school governors Paul Martin said he was disappointed and questioned whether the strike was legal.

Powys council is proposing a shake-up of secondary education and under its plans schools could merge and sixth forms could shut.

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