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Posted on 16 January 2014 at 16:15 GMT

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14, photo A Tice

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14, photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Rotherham teachers strike against threatened redundancies

Alistair Tice

Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, is a special school for pupils aged 7 to 16 with "moderate learning difficulties and complex needs".

Its 2011 Ofsted report was: "good with outstanding features".

The school is not in financial difficulties.

So what does Rotherham Labour local education authority do? Appoint a new executive headteacher, imposed from a neighbouring secondary school, with no special schools experience.

And what does this head, Roger Burman, do? Introduce a restructuring plan in which all staff have to apply for their own jobs, and reduce the number of teaching posts from 18 to 12 threatening six compulsory redundancies.

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14, photo A Tice

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14, photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

At the same time, advertisements for some of the new senior posts have already appeared on the Rotherham borough council website indicating that special school experience is not essential.

That's why the 12 classroom teachers that are members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) took strike action today, and if a position of 'no compulsory redundancies' is not guaranteed, they will strike again for two days next week and three days the following week.

Teaching assistants (TAs), members of the GMB union, are also striking on Monday 20th January, against the restructuring programme itself.

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14

Strike at Abbey school in Kimberworth, Rotherham, 16.1.14   (Click to enlarge)

Except one who was ill, all the striking teachers were on the picket line outside the school entrance, chanting "Keep Abbey special". Morale was high, as TAs and office staff showed support for the teachers as they came to work. The school was shut.

Pat McLaughlin, the school NUT rep with 34 years' teaching experience, said: "The children we teach deserve better than this".

Fred Sprague, divisional secretary of Rotherham NUT said: "These are dedicated teachers who educate and care for pupils with very complex and specific needs. Sadly, Rotherham council and the present interim management of the school seem willing to sack many dedicated professionals and throw a school judged by Ofsted as good into chaos".

Email messages of support to NUT rep Pat McLaughlin: ppmac@talktalk.net


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 January 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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