STAFF JOIN LUNCHTIME RALLY TO PROTEST AGAINST TEACHER REDUNDANCY AND THREAT TO BUDGETS
At 1.15 today, Friday May 20 2011, staff at Forest Hill School, Dacres Road, SE23 will be walking out of their school gates to hold a lunchtime rally in nearby Mayow Park to protest at the threatened redundancy of a teacher in the English department – who is due to lose his job at the end of the school year.
Staff are taking action to:
• Stand by their colleague who is faced with losing his livelihood
• Stand up for children and families who will see support cut by the loss of a member of staff
• Oppose cuts being made while the PFI contract continues to burn a hole in the school budget
Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary of Lewisham NUT, said:
“Today staff are demonstrating their anger at a job cut that will damage education. Our students need more support, not less.
Jobs at Forest Hill have now been threatened for two years in a row. Staff want to know how many more job cuts are to come as Lewisham Council demands that the school cuts its deficit.
Pupils should not be losing support, nor teachers be losing their jobs, to pay for the costs of PFI”
SUPPORT FOR PUPILS SHOULD NOT BE CUT
Forest Hill Governors will say that the job loss is unavoidable because the English teacher is “surplus to requirements”. But, this year, those ‘surplus’ hours of teaching time have been used to provide additional literacy support by withdrawing groups of Year 7 pupils from lessons. That hasn’t only helped those boys, it has also been a benefit to the whole year group by reducing class sizes.
The Council will be demanding much greater cuts in future so that the school can pay off its deficit. But Forest Hill is a successful school – its pupil numbers aren’t falling. Cuts can only mean greater class sizes, more job losses and less support for students.
LEWISHAM MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
It was Lewisham Council that encouraged schools to sign-up to a PFI contract and assured governors that the costs would be manageable. Now Forest Hill faces rocketing facilities costs that it cannot afford to pay. It is tied in to an expensive long-term PFI contract offering a guaranteed return to the private contractors - while school budgets face cuts.
While teachers’ pensions are being cut by linking them to the lowest CPI inflation index, the PFI contractors are guaranteed annual charge increases based on the highest RPIX index – charges which the school has to pay. It was the Council’s officers that were largely responsible for negotiating this contract – and it is the Council that must now also take responsibility for sorting out the financial mess that they have created. It certainly should not be students and staff who have to to pay for their mistakes.
STRIKE ACTION COULD FOLLOW NEXT MONTH
Today’s action could well be followed by strike action by members of the NUT next month.
56 members of the NUT at Forest Hill will be sent a ballot paper from the National Union on Wednesday May 25th to ascertain their support for sustained strike action to oppose compulsory redundancies.
They could be joined in co-ordinated action by NUT members at Deptford Green School who are also being balloted on the same timescale over the same threat of a teacher redundancy at their school.