Derby's Merrill Academy strike: School shut over pay rise dispute

Strike at Merrill Academy in Derby
Image caption The strike on Tuesday closed the school to all pupils except Year 11 students who were studying for their GCSE exams

A dispute over pay and appraisals at a Derby academy could close the school for six days over the next few weeks.

Unions representing striking teachers at the 600-pupil Merrill Academy said refusal to grant pay rises was "unacceptable".

Academy sponsor Derby College said "clear" appraisal and pay policies were agreed by the staff after consultation.

But union spokesman Keith Muncie said the academy's appraisal policies were "punitive".

'Low' morale

Mr Muncie, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), said academy appraisal policies "point out what people are not doing well... and are an endless catalogue of what happens if you don't do this or do that".

"Morale is very low," he added.

An estimated 50 of 60 teachers at the academy walked out during the strike, a union official said.

Image caption NUT representative Sue Arguile said teachers were "slogging their guts out" at the academy

National Union of Teachers (NUT) spokesman Sue Arguile said: "At a time when average graduate starting salaries are £37,000 and Aldi are offering new graduates £42,000, it is unacceptable that loyal and experienced teachers who earn much less than this are denied the pay rise to which they should be entitled," she said.

"Teachers slog their guts out really wanting children to do well and then have management turn around and say they are not worth a pay rise."

College spokesman Bernadette Doyle said about 50% of teachers had not received pay awards but added : "We have got some excellent teachers… very passionate and very committed…. and those teachers have been able to achieve the objectives and standards set for them.

"What we can't sit back and ignore are those teachers who are not helping our pupils to progress."

A recent Ofsted report rated the academy as inadequate but said "strong governance and leadership" were driving significant improvements.

A further five days of strike action was possible over the next few weeks, a union spokesman said.

The school will remain open for Year 11 pupils due to take their GCSE exams this summer.

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