Poll: Teachers at Harwich & Dovercourt High School to go on strike tomorrow

NASUWT members at Harwich & Dovercourt High School are poised to take strike action.

NASUWT members at Harwich & Dovercourt High School are poised to take strike action.

Teachers are taking strike action at a north Essex school tomorrow leading to its partial closure.

Members of the NASUWT union at Harwich and Dovercourt High School are walking out in a dispute over management practices.

Tomorrow is the first of six days of strike action over the next three weeks, scheduled to also take place on January 20-21 and 27-29.

The school has said it will remain open for pupils in years seven and 11-13, but students in years eight to ten will have to complete online learning at home.

Union officials said the dispute centred around mandatory targets for staff based on student achievement which were unfair and had been imposed without consultation.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The strike action at Harwich and Dovercourt High School could have been avoided.

“The teachers are all dedicated and committed members of staff but the failure to enter into genuine discussions to address real concerns has left them with no choice.

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“The NASUWT has made every effort to secure an agreed way forward through negotiation, but the employer has refused to listen to the concerns of teachers at the school. The NASUWT stands ready to withdraw the strikes if teachers’ concerns are taken seriously.”

Dan McCarthy, NASUWT national executive Member for Essex, added: “These are dedicated professionals who have no wish to disrupt their pupils’ education and are absolutely committed to the children in their care.

“It is therefore regrettable that senior management at the school insist on trying to implement policies that have not been agreed by teachers and which will not enhance teaching and learning.”

Mr McCarthy added that he hoped members of other teaching unions would join them in future actions in the dispute.

The school is currently rated as requiring improvement by Ofsted.

A school spokesman said: “Whilst this is a continuation of their national dispute the action is focused upon Harwich and Dovercourt High School.

“The dispute is in relation to adverse changes to pensions, workload and conditions of service, including pay and pay progression and job losses. We have not revised any of our policies in this regard.

“We are saddened the NASUWT is using this action to promote its on-going dispute with the Secretary of State without regard for the damage it can cause to pupils and to the image of the teaching profession.

“We have a duty to raise educational standards on behalf of our students and we value the efforts and impact good teachers have on the lives of their pupils. To this end we have adopted Performance Management targets which are fair yet challenging and we continue to be committed to supporting every teacher in achieving them.

“We have acted no differently from many of our immediate neighbours or schools nationally. Harwich and Dovercourt High School invests heavily in the training, coaching and professional development of all its staff and is at a loss to understand why it has been targeted in this way.

“We are committed to looking at how we can resolve all disputes and improve working conditions for all. However we must improve standards on behalf of the parents and community we serve.

“It is hoped that any disruption caused by this action will be minimal. All staff not involved in industrial action will work to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible to our student’s education.

“We will assess arrangements for the other days and due to health and safety grounds decisions may need to be made as events unfold.

“We will contact parents directly should the action affect their children directly and post news on our website.”