Leeds teachers out on strike over academy plans

Teachers from Prince Henry's Grammar School  march through Otley.
Teachers from Prince Henry's Grammar School march through Otley.
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Around half the teachers at a West Yorkshire school have walked out on strike in protest at plans to turn it into an academy.

Yesterday’s (November 10) picket outside Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, saw around 50 teachers take to the streets to highlight their opposition to the conversion, due to take place on December 1.

As a result, around two thirds of the 1,400 pupils – years nine, 10, 11 and sixth form – were told to study at home and only around 500 students were in school yesterday (November 10).

James Babington, a teacher at the school for five years, said staff hoped their stand could lead to further consultation and the changes being postponed.

He added: “Not one member of staff stood out here wants to be on strike or not teaching but this is what we feel is necessary.”

The day-long strike was the first of six planned days of strike action over the next two weeks, co-ordinated by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).

They say there was “almost unanimous opposition” to moving to academy status at two public meetings but the governing body voted 10-9 in favour.

Seven governors have since resigned over the decision, saying the views of parents and the community have been ignored.

Amir Mohammed, Leeds officer for the NASUWT, said members were worried the change could affect their pay and conditions.

But head teacher Janet Sheriff said there was “no intention” of changing terms of employment.

She said the school would remain fully comprehensive, inclusive and non-selective.

She was “extremely disappointed” pupils’ education was being disrupted but dialogue was ongoing with the unions and she hoped they would “be reasonable and call off the other planned strikes”.

A two-day strike is expected to start next Wednesday (November 16) with a three-day strike planned from Tuesday (November 22) the following week.

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