Letter to Leathersellers’ Federation parents & carers on the upcoming industrial action from NEU members:
National Education Union members in the Leathersellers’ Federation have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action against the proposal of the Governing Board to form a Multi Academy Trust from September 2023. The reason we were balloted at this time is because the governors are meeting on May 3rd to decide whether to go through with becoming a Multi-Academy Trust: the dates are not arbitrary.
o Context on the strike ballot
The YES vote was over 95% across the Federation’s three schools on an 81% turnout. Our
members – the teachers and support staff of these schools – are resolute that they do not want a MAT to be formed and want to stay within the Local Authority Family of Schools. It is critical for parents to be aware that our support staff colleagues have also balloted and it is looking increasingly likely that they will be joining our industrial action shortly.
The announcement for NEU industrial action came on the final day of the six week consultation during which the NEU reps and Governors met multiple times throughout. The Governing body knew precisely what was at stake. However, they have chosen not to make reasonable adjustments within that time frame which has left teachers with no option but to take industrial action. We have repeatedly put our points across many times: these strike dates were a last resort.
o The impact of the ballot
We hoped the ballot result would encourage the Governing Board to recognise that their proposal does not have the support of the school communities, and that it is an unnecessary distraction at a time of year when our members want to be focussing on supporting students, many of whom are about to sit public exams. We were told by governors that Spring Term was chosen for the MAT consultation as it would be the least disruptive time in the academic year. The Governing Body decided the timing of the consultation in the knowledge that any strike action (which they themselves anticipated) could impact on the student examination period. Teachers at LSFed schools are 100% committed to supporting our students through their exams. There will be dispensation for any members needed for practical exams. In response to being quoted by the Governing body in its communications to staff and parents, Dr Mary Bousted (General Secretary of NEU) responded: “I said that I thought members would not take national strike action during the exam period. The situation is different if there is a different local timescale for forced academisation. They are deliberately mixing up two disputes.”
o ACAS mediation
On Thursday 20th April 2023, we were invited to negotiate with the Governing body. We
welcomed these ACAS mediated talks which lasted 7 hours. Our position was made clear from the onset and was based on the aforementioned vote. We showed flexibility and were prepared to compromise by suggesting a meaningful delay in which the MAT proposal could be properly explored and alternatives suggested. However, the Governors did not offer flexibility in their suggestions – in fact their proposals were insubstantial and did not in any way reflect our members’ will. Had the Governors suspended their proposal, we would have willingly suspended our strike action. However, we now have no option but to strike.
Industrial action is not a decision that we have taken lightly. We do not believe that conversion to a MAT is in our students’ best interests and will continue to oppose this proposal. The NEU staff have requested to put out a statement similar to this on ParentMail, but have as yet not received a response.
We thank you all for you continuing support.
Prendergast NEU members