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 The school needs a new culture of collaboration between leadership and staff

The three teacher unions have taken a total of 5 days strike action against academisation. Staff and parents are against the school becoming an academy but the leadership and the IEB refuse to rule it out. Now the school management has seized the opportunity to suspend the NUT rep. He should be defended and reinstated, and the school should work together to deal with the real problem – getting the school out of Special Measures.

The school has been in Special Measures for a year since it failed its inspection in January 2015 and it still is in Special Measures today, a year later, having been failed again by Ofsted in November. The report, published on 16 December, makes a devastating critique of the school. It shows how damaging the failure to improve has been for the academic progress of the pupils. The Ofsted report places the responsibility squarely with the school’s leadership and management. This is what its headline judgement says: ‘Having considered all the evidence I am of the opinion that at this time: Leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.’ It continues: ‘Leaders do not have a detailed view of the strengths and weaknesses in teaching across the whole school, in different subjects or for individual teachers. As a result, support and training is not targeted at the areas, subjects and individuals where it is most needed, and therefore teaching is not improving.’

Suspending a union rep is a distraction from tackling this problem. And becoming an academy is a dead-end, not a solution – all the evidence shows that on average academies are less successful at improving than local authority schools are. The cause of the problem is the failure of leadership and management to create a collaborative trust-based culture with the staff. This is the foundation on which a rapidly improving school could have been built, getting it back to the standards of only a few years ago. But the leadership and management have chosen instead to create a deeply damaging culture of mistrust because of their failure to put to rest staff (and parent) fears about forced academy takeover.

The unions and the local authority should say to the leadership and management of Small Heath: Drop the charge against the NUT rep, it won’t help the school deal with the real problem, it’ll simply aggravate the situation even further. Instead, resolve to make a new start working with staff and parents instead of against them. Create a new culture of collaboration with the aim of showing Ofsted that the school is on the road to rapidly getting out of Special Measures.

Sign and share the petition to lift Simon’s suspension and to maintain Small Heath as a Local Authority school.  Over 1,000 signed in the first 24 hours.

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