Leicester Uplands School still faces strike threat

Uplands Junior School Uplands School is at the centre of a row between staff and management

Strikes could disrupt the start of term at a Leicester school, as a long-running staff dispute continues.

Union members at Uplands Junior School are unhappy about restructuring plans and the way the school is managed, and have staged three one-day walkouts.

Leicester City Council has threatened to remove the governors, who have supported the school's management, issuing a warning notice.

Governors appealed against the notice and Ofsted is considering the appeal.

'Remaining optimistic'

An independent report into the matter was carried out by the former head of Birmingham City Council's school and governor support service - parts of which have now been handed to Ofsted to consider.

Head teacher Tim Luckcock wearing a turban Head teacher Tim Luckcock took a picture of himself wearing a turban

Restructuring that would have led to the loss of eight teaching assistant posts was proposed more than a year ago.

In March this year staff backed a vote of no confidence in head teacher Tim Luckcock and the chair of governors Abid Matak over the loss of the posts and the way the school was being run.

Then in April, staff reacted with anger when Dr Luckcock posted a picture of himself online wearing a turban, with the comment "almost going native" underneath.

He later explained the turban was worn as part of Diwali in a school celebration of the festival and that the comment was a "colloquial" expression.

But the unions said it was mocking different cultures and used it as a further example of grievances aired previously.

Ian Leaver, from the National Union of Teachers, said its members had been pushing for the suspension of the head and a warning notice to be placed on the governing body.

Uplands Junior School timeline

December 2012 - tensions begin to rise over restructuring proposals

14 April 2013 - collective grievance filed by the staff citing "a history of conflict" and calling for the removal of the head

18 April - Tim Luckcock criticised for wearing a turban in a Facebook post

21 May - first of three strikes closes the school

28 May - arbitration service Acas brought in to carry out talks

June - independent report commissioned by the school and the council

July - council places a warning notice on the school that it will apply to the government to remove the governors

August - governors appeal against the notice and the decision goes to Ofsted to decide whether to uphold the appeal

But he added: "I'm remaining optimistic that there will be a resolution before the start of term.

"If there isn't, I'm absolutely certain the teachers will not be prepared to tolerate the situation carrying on as it is and will be joined in any action by the non-teaching unions."

Mr Matak said the independent investigation had "exonerated" the governors but that the council disagreed.

"It's difficult for all stakeholders concerned," he said.

"The safety and the education of our children has to be paramount."

His sentiment of wishing to resolve the problems as quickly as possible was echoed by assistant city mayor for children, young people and schools, Vi Dempster.

"I'm asking officers in the council to chase up Ofsted. It is important that we get a decision quickly," she said.

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