Socialist Worker

Wildcat action over school safety fears

Issue No. 2201

Teachers and students are expected to work in a building site as the private contractors operate

Teachers and students are expected to work in a building site as the private contractors operate

Teachers at St Aloysius school in Islington, north London, refused to begin lessons on Friday of last week.

They feared building work carried out by contactors Balfour Beatty had left the school in a dangerous condition.

Dangers included malfunctioning fire alarms, confused evacuation procedures and water dripping on to electrical wiring.

Teachers took their students to the playground and supervised them there for several hours.


The previous afternoon, 45 teachers at a school NUT union meeting voted unanimously to be balloted on strike action over dangerous working conditions and the poorly designed building.

Staff and students will be forced to move into the new building if an existing building is demolished on the 20 June, as planned.

Design faults at the school, which is being rebuilt under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, include:

  • L-shaped Design and Technology classrooms, which don’t allow the teacher to see the whole room despite it containing dangerous tools and machinery.
  • Rooms with insufficient seating space for the number of students in them.
  • Tiny windows providing very little natural light.

Angry teachers at the school pointed out that this was not what was promised before the BSF project in Islington began.

Ken Muller, assistant secretary of Islington NUT, said, “It is important that the ballot for industrial action begins quickly – in time to stop the demolition of the existing school block that could provide alternative accommodation.”

St Aloysius teachers’ willingness to take a stand over their working conditions should be an example to all.

In coming weeks the NUT, and the trade union movement as a whole, will need to back them to the hilt.

The incident highlights the problems caused by private sector involvement in our schools.

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Article information

Tue 11 May 2010, 17:13 BST
Issue No. 2201
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