UPDATE SATURDAY 6.15PM: Strike action at Spalding Grammar School “betrayal” of staff

Spalding Grammar School logo.
Spalding Grammar School logo.
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Relations between teaching union members and leaders of Spalding Grammar School threatens to turn sour after a unanimous vote for strike action.

A strongly-worded statement from the Yorkshire/Midland branch of thr National Union of Teachers (NUT) accused senior staff of a “betrayal” of teachers after refusing to give them a one per cent pay rise, in line with the recommendations of the independent School Teachers’ Review Body.

Ken Rustidge, NUT National Executive member for Lincolnshire.  Photo by Adam Fairbrother.

Ken Rustidge, NUT National Executive member for Lincolnshire. Photo by Adam Fairbrother.

No date has been set for strike action on the grounds of an accusation by the NUT of Spalding Grammar School “digging their heels” in and holding out from giving teacher what the union called a “paltry cost of living increase that other Lincolnshire schools have”.

Nick Raine, NUT regional officer, said: “The unanimous ballot result indicates the strong feelings of teachers at Spalding Grammar School against school management unfairly withholding a paltry pay award that other teachers in Lincolnshire are receiving.

“Despite facing potentially days of strike action, school management have never met with me and there are no ongoing negotiations or meetings planned with the school.

“Sadly, this makes strike action inevitable as the school is ensuring that teachers have no other way of expressing their genuine grievances over an unjustified pay cut”

This unanimous ballot result indicates the strong feelings of teachers at Spalding Grammar School against school management unfairly withholding a paltry pay award that other teachers in Lincolnshire are receiving

Nick Raine, regional officer, National Union of Teachers

Teachers at Spalding Grammar School held a formal and secret ballot for strike action on January 19, with a turnout of almost 78 per cent.

The vote in favout of striking was unanimous, a result the NUT called “very high for a postal ballot” and an indicator of “the strength of feeling of the teachers who feel betrayed by the school management”.

Mr Raine said: “I call upon the chairman of governors Reverend John Bennett and headmaster Steven Wilkinson to consider the unfairness of their actions and either find a way to implement the paltry pay award or meet with the NUT who would be happy to suggest ways that the school could find the money as other schools across Lincolnshire and the country have done.

“By ignoring their staff, they are ensuring that days of strike action are likely to take place that will inconvenience parents and affect pupils’ education.

“I believe that this is unfair and irresponsible.”

The NUT also accused the school of allowing teachers to suffer “a 14 per cent pay cut in real terms since 2010”, despite being what the union called “a well-regarded school”.

Senior management were becoming “increasingly isolated” because of its stance on the pay increase, claimed the NUT which also said that Spalding Grammar School’s suggestion that the funds were not available to fund higher salaries was contrary to the truth.

An NUT Yorkshire/Midland branch spokesman said: “The recommended pay increase would mean a one per cent increase for all teachers and two per cent for those on the top of the pay spine.

“Teachers at Spalding Grammar School have suffered a 14 per cent pay cut in real terms since 2010 and teachers are worried that this further cut will mean the school finding it much more difficult to attract the excellent teachers the pupils deserve.

“The NUT believes that the school does have access to funds and that its financial position is much healthier than many other Lincolnshire Schools.

“The union has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the school to ascertain the school’s position and the level of salary and expenses paid to senior leaders and managers at the school.

“The union is also keen to find out whether all school governors are involved and aware of financial decisions made at Spalding Grammar School.

“Management at the school are aware of the unanimous vote for strike action but so far have refused to meet formally with the union to avert a strike.

“The NUT is unsure if the entire governing body is aware of the looming crisis at the school but will seek to inform them.”

At the start of the pay dispute last month, Mr Wilkinson said: “The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) 2015, and the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) 2015 report upon which its recommendations are based, does not place upon schools any requirement to increase the pay of all teachers by one per cent.

“Neither does it recommend it (but) the document does set out ranges within which teachers should be paid and this school’s pay structure has been uplifted accordingly such that it matches with those new ranges.

“The STRB report states that it is for schools to determine individual pay awards, taking account of performance and in line with school pay policies.

“This school’s pay policy allows for all teachers to receive an increase in salary where this is warranted by performance, a principle I am committed to, and many teachers have benefited from it this year.

“I would be delighted to be able to award the increase that the unions are requesting.

“However, in circumstances where per-pupil income is decreasing due to cuts at a number of levels, it would be negligent of me in the long-term interests of the school to do so.

“It is unfortunate that the school is being put in this position of choice (because), if the award is given, cuts would have to be made in our provision in order to finance it.

“If the award is not given, a number of teaching days will be lost to industrial action.

“Either way, it is the students who will be the losers and for that I am deeply regretful.

“I do hope that a solution can be found and that negotiations, held calmly, privately and in full possession of the facts, can begin.”

FRIDAY 3.15PM: Teachers vote for strike action at Spalding Grammar School

National Union of Teachers (NUT) members at Spalding Grammar School have voted unanimously to strike as a pay dispute threatens to worsen.

The result of a secret ballot amongst teachers who are part of the NUT, which closed on Tuesday, was revealed by the union’s Yorkshire and Midlands branch today.

A turnout of just under 78 per cent was, according to NUT regional officer Nick Raine, an indication of “the strong feelings of teachers at Spalding Grammar School against school management unfairly withholding a paltry pay award that other teachers in Lincolnshire are receiving”.

There were claims last week that educational trips at Spalding Grammar School could be under threat after teachers threatened strike action over a refusal to gibe them a one per cent pay rise, as recommeneded by an independent body which reviews staff salaries.

Mr Raine said: “I am disappointed that school management have given parents and the Spalding community the impression that they are acting in line with the pay review body’s recommendations.

“Instead, they are taking the unusual and unreasonable step of ignoring them and treating Spalding teachers unfairly.”

The NUT accused senior staff at Spalding Grammar School of falsely claiming that it could not afford to give teachers the pay increase and that it would put some staff at a disadvantage.

Headmaster Steven Wilkinson said: “Resolutions will be reached through negotiations held calmly and privately and those are ongoing within the school.

“Neither I, nor any of my staff, have any desire to be drawn into a public war of words on what is an internal matter.”

But Ken Rustidge, NUT national executive member for Lincolnshire, said: “Teachers at the prestigious Spalding Grammar School cannot understand why they have been detrimentally treated so differently to teachers in other schools locally and nationally.

“Industrial action is always a last resort and I do hope all parties can now get round the table and negotiate a solution.”

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