Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry teachers strike over schools' academy plans

Staff at two Coventry schools are on strike over plans to turn their institutions into academies.

Tile Hill Wood and The Woodlands School are both closed to pupils.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the strike was in protest at a decision to consult to change from maintained schools to academies.

A spokesman said the change posed a threat to the terms and conditions of employment. The Woodlands said its application would not be withdrawn.

'Financial freedom'

While Peter Wall, chairman of the governors at Tile Hill Wood School, said the consultation had been extensive.

Neil Charlton, head teacher at the Woodlands, said: "One of the primary considerations for this school is the financial imperative and because of that I do not intend to withdraw my application under any circumstances."

He said there were a number of reasons for schools to become academies.

He added: "The critical one for this school is the financial freedom by being funded directly from the government as opposed to via the authority.

"We would find ourselves several hundred thousand pounds better off in a year. That's the most significant factor in our decision to apply for academy status."

Academies have greater control over their budgets and can set their own pay and conditions for staff.

Jane Nellist, joint secretary of the Coventry Association of the NUT, said members were unhappy about the plans.

Pay and conditions

She said: "Our members are very angry about the way they are being treated by governors.

"The consultation has been virtually non-existent and some of the claims that are being made are totally distorted, especially around extra money.

"If these changes take place, our members' pay and conditions will be under threat as governors have failed to give any guarantees."

Picket lines were set up at 0730 BST at both schools.

In a letter to staff at Tile Hill Wood, Mr Wall said: "In our view, governors and the school leadership group have been more open and inclusive in communicating and consulting about the academy process than many other schools in the city.

"We have listened carefully to all of the feedback and comments that we received. This was extensive and covered a wide range of topics."

He added: "We have made it clear throughout the process that we have absolutely no intention of changing terms and conditions to the detriment of staff, now or in the future."

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