School academy row worsens as new series of strikes announced (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Teachers at Connaught School in Leytonstone are to go on strike again
A SCHOOL is facing weeks of disruption after a union announced a new series of two-day strikes in an increasingly bitter row over its bid to become an academy.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone have said they will walk-out for a total of six days in the next three weeks.
And Waltham Forest NUT secretary Steve White said there could be more strikes "to Christmas and beyond" unless the issue was resolved.
There have already been four days of strikes at the school since September.
Headteacher Ann Betts said some year groups would still be able to attend classes but admitted it was unlikely that Connaught would be fully open on strike days.
Governors voted by eight to six in favour of the school applying for academy status last month.
But the NUT wants the vote to be held again because two governors were absent.
Academy status will allow the school to break away from council control and receive all its funding direct from the government.
Ms Betts said governors were concerned that the council was planning on merging Connaught with another school and they felt becoming an academy was the only way to safeguard its future.
She also claims the school will be £97,000 better off.
But the council says there are no merger plans and academy status will not lead to extra funding.
Mr White said: "The ideal situation is that the governors realise that there's huge opposition and that they reflect that in a new vote.
"If they won't hold a new vote then we ask them to start again and go through the process properly by having a full consultation."
Ms Betts said: "We went for talks with national representatives of the NUT and agreed to guarantees about teachers terms and conditions, and the TUC model policy on academies, but the local NUT threw it out.
"I really feel for the impact this disruption is having on parents and the children - all because we had a democratic consultation and vote which the NUT didn't like the result of.”
Ms Betts indicated that she believed that the two governors who were absent would have voted in favour as well, although the NUT disputes this.
The strikes are due to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday (November 27 and 28), Wednesday and Thursday (December 5 and 6) and Tuesday and Thursday (December 11 and 13).
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