Blue Coat School set for strike action

The National Education Union (NEU) has announced “deep frustration and disappointment” that the employer of The Blue Coat School staff has rejected signing the resolution document submitted by NEU members.

The union claims that despite extensive communication via emails, letters, and negotiation meetings—some facilitated by ACAS—the employer’s refusal to engage constructively has left NEU members with no choice but to take action.

As a result, almost 70 NEU members are set to take strike action, commencing on Tuesday, 14 May, with an additional five days of action scheduled throughout May and June.

Bora Oktas, regional officer of the NEU, said, “NEU members are entitled to a degree of legitimate workplace democracy over decisions which affect them. Our dedicated staff tirelessly contribute to providing the best education for pupils.

“They are the heart of the school, not the current management regime, which seems to enjoy consistency only in bringing a previously prestigious educational establishment into increasing disrepute.”

Mr Oktas continued, “Our members proposed a model where both Trustees and staff, including NEU members, collaborate to produce the best conditions possible for great teaching and learning. Despite initial interest expressed by the employer, this approach unfortunately was not adopted.

“NEU members believe that a lack of transparency and accountability persists within the management structures – allied with a culture of aggressive and unnecessary top-down command. Instances of bullying, harassment, and victimisation have been systematically documented, stemming from the employer and its management practices.”

Peter Middleman, regional secretary of the NEU, said, “While senior managers enjoy six-figure salaries, pupils endure broken furniture, leaky corridors and out-of-date or poorly maintained equipment. NEU members often resort to purchasing supplies from out of their own pockets, highlighting the stark contrast in resource allocation.

“The creation of additional top management roles without consultation or staff participation has raised concerns which we know are shared by many parents and carers.”

Mr Middleman further commented, “The school has built a reputation for educational attainment which our members are determined to preserve, if only there was an effective mechanism for having their collective, professional voice heard. It speaks volumes that those overseeing the chaos of recent years have adopted a we-know-best-approach which has been demonstrably bad for standards and for the fulfilment of staff”.

The NEU cis calling on The Blue Coat School’s Board of Trustees to reconsider their stance, prioritise staff well-being, and work towards a fair and transparent resolution.

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