Teachers had 'no choice' but to strike at Chesterfield school as 'ongoing concerns have not been resolved'

Teachers at a Chesterfield school with concerns over staff treatment and ‘lack of discipline’ said they had ‘no choice’ but to engage in strike action again this week.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 2:17 pm
The strike action took place on Tuesday and closed the school for a day.

Hasland Hall Community School was forced to close for the day of action which involved NASUWT union members, parents and pupils on Tuesday (October 22).

This is the second strike at the school this year after a two-day protest in July in a row over the same issues.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of the NASUWT, the Teacher’s Union, said members were striking due to ‘continued failure’ by senior school staff to take professional concerns seriously.

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Ms Keates added: “NASUWT members first took strike action in July and, despite the best efforts of the Union to work with the employer to find a resolution to these issues, unfortunately the problems remain unresolved.

“We regret any disruption this strike action has caused to parents or pupils but teachers have a right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace and to have working conditions which reflect their role as skilled professionals. We again urge the employer to work with us to find a resolution to these issues so that further strike action can be avoided.”

But in a letter to parents, headteacher Miss R N Moore said there had been a ‘very positive start to the year’ at Hasland Hall with new students ‘settling in very well’.

Miss Moore added she was ‘disappointed’ by the strike action, as school chiefs had met with senior personnel from Derbyshire County Council, together with country representatives of the NASUWT during the first week of term.

She said: “We were, at the meeting and previous ones, able to outline all the actions we had taken to address the concerns of the NASUWT had raised over staff workload and student behaviour with the clear aim of resolving any dispute.”

Miss Moore added that school bosses would ‘continue to work together’ with all staff and parents to ‘provide the best education for young people in our care’.

It is understood that Ofsted carried out an inspection at the school last week.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins also visited the school to discuss concerns.

He said: “Parents are understandably angry and frustrated that their children are missing more vital days at school due to strike action.

"I have spoken to the Interim Director of Schools at Derbyshire County Council to express my concerns and urge for intervention to help resolve these issues.

"I am sure everyone will agree that teachers have a right to work in a safe environment and the fact that they have taken this extraordinary action shows the scale of the problems that we saw at the school last term.

"A new behaviour policy has been introduced and I am hoping it will lead to the genuine change that parents, teachers and pupils can believe in so that the school can begin to rebuild confidence.

"Last year’s GCSE results were disappointing but not disastrous and there are new staff in place, so there needs to be a relentless focus on ensuring that every child at Hasland Hall is in a consistent, supportive and disciplined environment to maximise their potential.

"I am aware that Ofsted have recently inspected and I will be looking with great interest at their findings.

"I have tried to speak to representatives from the NASUWT on a number of occasions and have been frustrated by their lack of engagement with me, though some teaching staff have given me their personal perspectives.

"It is difficult for me to comment on this week’s strike action as I have not heard their view on what their outstanding concerns are.

I will continue to pursue this and offer my services in trying to help to resolve the problems at the school and end the current industrial action.”

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said there was a ‘wide feeling of distrust’ towards the running of the school.

Another told us: “There is support from parents towards striking teachers as they generally recognise the working conditions are often unsafe.”