Friday 19 December 2014

Academy Strike Ballot: 98% YES for strike action

Over the last fortnight, Lewisham NUT members in five schools threatened with being turned into an Academy have been voting in an indicative ballot to judge the support for strike action to oppose any such change of employer.

The results of the secret ballot show overwhelming backing for taking a program of 'discontinuous' strike action in each of the five schools:

Bonus Pastor Catholic College:   YES 14   NO 0 
Prendergast Hilly Fields College:   YES 23   NO 1
Prendergast Ladywell Fields College:   YES 24   NO 0
Prendergast Vale College:   YES 21   NO 0
Sedgehill School:   YES 40   NO 1

Overall result across all five schools: 
YES 98.4%, NO 1.6% 
on a turnout of 73%.

As was explained in the covering letter sent to NUT members, "if the outcome of the ballot is successful and the dispute remains unresolved (i.e. we are not given a guarantee that the school will not be converting to an Academy), a formal ballot of members may then be necessary early in the New Year". 

None of the schools have responded to the NUT with the assurances that we were seeking that there will not be a change of employer:
  • At Sedgehill, Lewisham Council have gone ahead in the teeth of overwhelming public opposition to submit an application for an IEB - a step towards forced academisation of the school which has already seen the existing Headteacher announce his departure. 
  • The Governing Board of the Leathersellers' Federation ( for the three Prendergast Schools) have set up a Working Party to report on a possible Academy conversion. This is due to report back in the New Year. 
  • Bonus Pastor's Principal has written back to the NUT confirming that she has "submitted our interest to convert to an academy within the Catholic Diocese of Southwark"
Given the clear danger of a rapid move to Academy status in some or all of these Lewisham schools - and the clear backing for strike action shown in all five ballots - then Lewisham NUT will be immediately requesting that the National Union proceeds to issue formal ballots for strike action as soon as possible in the New Year.

The NUT is liaising with other teaching and support staff unions with the aim of being prepared to take strike action which is not only co-ordinated if necessary across all five schools but also across school staff unions too.

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