Fight job-cutting academies

Paul Gerrard

The only thing Santa brought the staff at the Oasis Academy, Salford, is P45s. Thirteen staff are to lose their jobs, nine teachers and four support staff.

The Oasis Community Learning is one of a growing number of ‘chains’ of academies, with schools in Enfield, Croydon, Bristol, Southampton, Grimsby, Oldham and elsewhere. It’s an avowedly Christian foundation.

Four years ago Salford’s Hope High School was under threat. Academy status under Oasis was offered as the only alternative to closure.

Staff reluctantly accepted assurances of ‘no job losses’. They were TUPE’ed over and at first all seemed well.

A year ago a new head was appointed by Oasis and about six weeks ago he announced 13 staff redundancies, to take place mid-year, irrespective of the impact on pupils taking GCSEs. When pupils heard, they organised a walkout from the school and set off fire alarms all day.

A process of ‘consultation’ which would normally take three months has been concertinaed into five weeks, and the unions have been sidelined. NUT members balloted overwhelmingly for action. NUT and NAS/UWT have authorised strike days with full pay in the face of Oasis’ intransigence.

The school was closed as part of the pensions dispute on 30 November and there were two strike days over redundancies in each of the first two weeks of December.

The government tries to entice more schools down the academy road but for all the glossy prospectuses and the flashy websites, in this crazy Con-Dem world each school is just another cost centre.