Teachers and parents of Small Heath School have won an extraordinary victory against forced academy conversion. Contrary to some claims there is clear evidence that forced academy conversion was a real threat. Last week they learned that King Edward Foundation had withdrawn as a potential sponsor of Small Heath School and key figures on the IEB with links to the King Edward Foundation resigned their positions. Peter Hay, Strategic Director for People at Birmingham City Council, went on to confirm that the IEB will be disbanded and replaced, and agreed to union demands that the new IEB would not be comprised of potential sponsors, but rather it should be comprised of independent individuals who have the sole aim of wanting to do the best for the school, its pupils and the community (without the vested interests potential sponsors have) as well as the necessary expertise to do this. Crucially he also stated that the DfE is not, at this time, minded to put in an academy order and furthermore that the DfE is minded to allow the school to improve via school to school support and support from the Birmingham Education Partnership.
However, the fight is not yet over as suspended NUT Rep Simon O’Hara has not been reinstated. NUT members feel very strongly that their union rep was victimised by the outgoing IEB for doing his union job in representing them and fighting academy conversion. The following statement is from the NUT;
Why NUT members are reluctantly striking again at Small Heath School
NUT members at Small Heath School will very reluctantly begin a new programme of strike action on Tuesday 9th February. The strikes are due to the victimisation of longstanding teacher and Small Heath School NUT Rep Simon O’Hara, who was suspended from work on 7th January.
As NUT School Rep, Simon has been active and effective in representing the views of NUT members. He has spoken out against academisation and unreasonable workload initiatives. Simon was suspended two days after his members voted for more action. He has essentially been suspended on what appear to be very flimsy allegations which date back to November last year. The allegations are of a minor nature and in no way constitute gross misconduct. The Union believes Simon’s suspension is disproportionate and unjustifiable. These issues could have been resolved in school by a sensible conversation. We believe Simon was suspended in a desperate attempt by the employer to end opposition to the proposed academy conversion. This has left NUT members at the school determined to support their rep – they are striking until his suspension is lifted and there is an end to victimisation.
Following a magnificent campaign by parents and staff, the academy threat has now been withdrawn and a new Interim Executive Board (IEB) is being established. The new IEB has the opportunity to rebuild relationships with staff at the school but it is impossible for this to happen when an elected union rep is being victimised for carrying out his trade union duties.
In an attempt to prevent further industrial action the union initiated talks with the Local Authority and the employer and we were absolutely clear that members would very much prefer to be in school teaching the children they care about rather than on strike.
The strike action planned to take place over the next three weeks could be suspended if the employer lifts Simon’s suspension. NUT members want to work with the new IEB to agree a school improvement plan that ensures the expertise and professionalism of staff is used to improve the school and give every pupil the best possible start in life.
NUT members at Small Heath School say, ‘We have always had the best interests of students and the community at heart. We don’t want to strike; we want to be able to get on with the job that we love – teaching. Join us in telling the IEB to do the right thing by lifting Simon’s suspension.’
What you can do:
Email to the school to insist Simon’s suspension is lifted: email@example.com
Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign and share the petition online.
Demonstrate your support for Simon and striking staff on the picket lines.