Rawmarsh teachers set to strike again over cuts

Pupils stage their own demo in support of school staff.
Pupils stage their own demo in support of school staff.

TEACHERS at Rawmarsh were set to strike again this week against proposed redundancies, although new negotiations are underway.

At a meeting between NUT officials and Rawmarsh Community School Head Dr Stuart Wilson, it was agreed redundancy notices would not now be served until the end of this month.

This, it was said, will allow a review of applications for voluntary redundancy and more consideration of termination dates.

An NUT spokesman said: “The head is to confirm in writing the precise number of jobs now at risk”.

But although Dr Wilson asked for action on two days this week to be postponed, union members expected to strike again because, said the spokesman: “It remains the case that the matter of substantial job losses has not been resolved”.

Last week’s one-day strike by about 30 NUT members resulted in closure of the school, leading teachers to ask how the school could function following the loss of 30 plus jobs.

A second public meeting for union members and supporters was taking place this week – at which NUT members were expected to confirm their intention to strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

One teacher said the picketing of the school had brought tears to his eyes, adding: “I saw at first hand what happened to these communities after the miners and steelworkers went. It should never happen again”.

Planned redundancies involve over 20 teachers and 10 support staff. Teachers say the “crippling” losses will result in rising class sizes and falling standards.

An initial proposal of 30 redundancies in the middle of the year has now been staggered, but the numbers are unchanged.

National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) spokeswoman Susan Brook said: “NASUWT is still working with the authority to identify the reasons why the school was allowed to get into this unacceptable situation and what can be done to resolve it”.

Dr Wilson said before Friday’s meeting that although he “hoped to avert future industrial action” there was no alternative to redundancies.

He said the school’s difficulties meant a deficit budget had to be set for the next five years, claiming a decision to put back a number of redundancies until the summer, as requested by the governing body after talks with the NASUWT, had cost £400,000.

He said falling student numbers remained the issue to be addressed, claiming the cost of the loss of 219 kids to the school, over the past three years, is £900,000.

After the redundancies, the head claimed class sizes would be 20 for practical subjects and 25 otherwise.

Dr Wilson said: “Every other area we could look at is already cut back too far. If we do nothing in five years time our debt will be half a million pounds and teachers won’t be getting paid”.