Socialist Worker

Education round up: School strikers want head to confess to bullying

Issue No. 2684

Strikers at the south London school

Strikers at the south London school


Workers at St Catherine’s Catholic School for Girls in Bexleyheath began a three-day strike on Tuesday.

NEU union members are in dispute over what they call bullying behaviour by the head teacher, Yvonne Connolly.

This week’s strike follows over a month of walkouts that started on 30 October.

On Friday of last week the school’s trustees, La Sainte Union, announced that Connolly would be taking “a leave of absence for her own health and wellbeing”.

And Barry Connell, chair of governors, stepped down.

Workers say Connolly presided over a “climate of fear” at the school.

Discrimination 

Teacher Emmanuel Nketia left in July 2018 and said, “Bullying, discrimination, unfair treatment and mismanagement were rife.”

Last month 66 workers and 220 parents and former students signed two votes of no confidence in Connolly.

They demanded an investigation into 34 complaints. Striker Rachel Shepherd said, “There remains a culture of fear at St Catherine’s.”

Meanwhile, NEU members at Salford City College began a two-day walkout over pay on Tuesday.

The action follows five strikes last month after bosses refused to implement a nationally agreed deal on pay and conditions.

The NEU said that it would cost the college £117,000 to resolve the dispute.

And workers say last year’s accounts show the college has £16 million in “unrestricted reserves”.

For St Catherine's school send messages of support to [email protected] and for Salford college send messages of support to [email protected]

Two East London schools resist academies scam

NEU union members at two Catholic schools in Newham, east London, were set to strike against academisation on Wednesday.

The schools involved are St Angela’s secondary school and St Michael’s primary school.

The action at St Michael’s was due to close the school, showing solid support for the strike. And strikes in the future could be bigger.

NEU members at a third large Catholic school in Newham, St Bonaventure’s, have also voted overwhelmingly for strikes in an indicative ballot.

A campaign against academisation halted the process for local authority schools in Newham.

But the Catholic schools are run by the Brentwood Diocese, which seems determined to push ahead.

Its multi academy trust took over Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in the neighbouring borough of Redbridge in September, despite a strong parent campaign.

The time, with union groups at three schools showing their commitment to oppose academisation with strikes, there is a real potential to win.

Miriam Scharf

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