Swansea Valley School 'disappointed' by six-day strike threat

South Wales Guardian: Ysgol Maesydderwen faces strike action next month. Ysgol Maesydderwen faces strike action next month.

A SWANSEA Valley secondary school has said today it is “extremely disappointed” that it is being singled out by a teaching union which could see its members strike for six days next month.

Ysgol Maesydderwen, in Ystradgynlais, has received notice from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers that its members will be striking on six days during March. The action relates to a schools pay policy which has been adopted by the school's governing body.

A Powys county council spokesman said the pay policy was devised at a regional level by ERW, the school improvement partnership for mid and west Wales, and negotiated in a series of meetings between representatives of councils in the improvement partnership and recognised teacher trade unions – including the NASUWT.

"Following the consultation, 95 per cent of the pay policy was agreed, but some teacher unions remained dissatisfied with parts of the policy," he added.

"The school has written to parents informing them of the strike action and if it does go ahead, the school will be closed to pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. It will remain open to pupils in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 and pupils in these year groups should attend. External examinations will continue to run and pupils who are sitting examinations must attend."

In a joint statement, Chair of Governors Hugh Pattrick and headteacher Sally Speedy said: “We are extremely disappointed that Ysgol Maesydderwen is being singled out for possible strike action by the NASUWT.

“Any strike action will cause major disruption to the education of our pupils and at a crucial time for our learners who will be sitting exams shortly.

“Ysgol Maesydderwen is not the only school to adopt this policy and it has already been adopted by the majority of the 500 schools that are in the ERW region. However, we are the only school being singled out for any strike action to date and at this moment in time, we are not clear why we are being singled out.

“At this stage, decisions regarding strike days are provisional as we are continuing discussions with the trade union and it is possible that the action may be called off. We will be meeting the NASUWT next week and hopefully the position will become clearer.”

The possible strike days will take place on March 5, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20.

Responding to the statement issued by the local authority, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said it was "alarmist, inappropriate and unnecessary".

He added: "While it is correct that notice of escalation of the national action has been given to the governing body of Ysgol Maesydderwen, the NASUWT does not court publicity on such issues where discussions are ongoing.

“It is deeply regrettable that Powys Authority and the governing body have failed to accept the same level of responsibility.”

Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said: “There was no need to issues any public statement on this matter at this time.”

Comments (1)

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12:10am Fri 21 Feb 14

celtwin says...

This is a slightly different response to that previously given to the BBC, which read: -
"We have not singled the school out for industrial action."

Mr Phillips said six schools had adopted the pay policy, but Ysgol Maesydderwen was the first where members had asked the union to escalate industrial action"

Whilst there maybe a national mandate for industrial action, the specific action is directed only towards one school. Is this at the volition of the member teachers at that school? If so I am disappointed, as this places their loyalty to their school and the children they teach in some doubt. This is a critical time for many pupils with examinations. Let us be clear the proposed action is for six days at one school, which is highly damaging to those childrens' education and wholly disproportionate. I remain mystified as to why, if there is a national mandate for this action, massively disruptive action is constricted to this one school?

The issue of pay portability is not reasonable in any other profession, rather if you apply for a job elsewhere, you do so with eyes wide open as to the salary and package for the job where you apply. To transport favourable salaries from an affluent area to an area where such a salary would also be disproportionate is quite frankly ridiculous in the present envrionment, and to place chilren's education at risk on this issue I leave to others to comment upon. How many teachers at Mysydderwen plan to leave and want to transport their salary? How many children's education is at risk as a result of this action? I urge those involved to revisit their conscience.
This is a slightly different response to that previously given to the BBC, which read: - "We have not singled the school out for industrial action." Mr Phillips said six schools had adopted the pay policy, but Ysgol Maesydderwen was the first where members had asked the union to escalate industrial action" Whilst there maybe a national mandate for industrial action, the specific action is directed only towards one school. Is this at the volition of the member teachers at that school? If so I am disappointed, as this places their loyalty to their school and the children they teach in some doubt. This is a critical time for many pupils with examinations. Let us be clear the proposed action is for six days at one school, which is highly damaging to those childrens' education and wholly disproportionate. I remain mystified as to why, if there is a national mandate for this action, massively disruptive action is constricted to this one school? The issue of pay portability is not reasonable in any other profession, rather if you apply for a job elsewhere, you do so with eyes wide open as to the salary and package for the job where you apply. To transport favourable salaries from an affluent area to an area where such a salary would also be disproportionate is quite frankly ridiculous in the present envrionment, and to place chilren's education at risk on this issue I leave to others to comment upon. How many teachers at Mysydderwen plan to leave and want to transport their salary? How many children's education is at risk as a result of this action? I urge those involved to revisit their conscience. celtwin

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