Teachers launch strike action at Crosby school

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Crosby High School teachers at picket. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

Crosby High School teachers at picket. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

Teachers at a Crosby school began strike action this week in response to what they say is ‘excessive bureaucracy.’

Picketing began at 7am on Monday at Crosby High School, a school dedicated to catering to students with special needs, after talks between the National Union of Teachers and the head teacher and local authority, which began on October 23rd, failed to produce anything.

Further strike action was held today, with more planned tomorrow. Strike action will also take place for three days next week, with more scheduled to take place in January if the situation cannot be resolved.

Teachers are complaining over what they claim is a system of excessive bureaucracy which has put them in a position where they were no longer able to handle their duties with students effectively, as they are struggling to cope under the pressures of such a large workload.

Staff at the school had initially brought up the issue of such a large workload with the school governors and management in January 2014. But as conditions have not improved, the National Union of Teachers issued a notice of intention to strike on October 23rd.

Peter Middleman, National Union of Teachers regional officer, felt that the teachers had been put in a position where strike action was the only thing they felt they could do.

He said: “This really was a last resort for the teachers. We have been in talks with the head and the local education authority since our notice of intent, but we have had no real movement on the core issues. The staff feel that in order to properly care for their students these issues have to be resolved.”

One of the main issues that staff have with the current school administration is that they feel that there is too much emphasis put on bureaucratic paperwork, rather than student care.

One teacher, who did not want to be identified, told JMU Journalism: “You have time allocated for prep and marking but that’s limited. You find yourself in that time doing other administrative tasks, so often your marking does fall behind and you find yourself at home doing that into the early hours.

“The thing is that our performance is measured by this, rather than performance in the classroom, it’s your ability to fill out documentation correctly.

Placards. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

Placards. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

“You feel awful because you have so little time to spend with them, less time than ever, and instead of getting cool stuff ready for the kids to do, I’m busy with filing. It detracts from the quality of lesson I can give to the kids. It’s not what I came into teaching for, and I could have done this in a bank, it’s crazy.”

Head teacher Toni Oxton-Grant released a statement expressing how difficult the situation at the school is. She said they have been trying to work with the staff to ensure a suitable working environment.

“Throughout this process we have demonstrated that what staff are required do is entirely in keeping with the NUT’s own guidelines,” the statement said.

“The decision to close the school or send pupils home is never taken lightly but, in this instance where staff have elected to take lawful industrial action, the governors have no choice but to take appropriate steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the pupils.”

About Connor Lynch, JMU Journalism