Going Nowhere – teachers strike at Oasis Academy

by - 15th December 2011, 7.00 BST

Teachers at a high-profile, privately-run academy in Salford are taking eleventh-hour strike action to try to prevent 13 staff being sacked, in what NASUWT describes as a serious management failure within the organisation.

The Oasis Trust, which runs the Media City Academy, intends to force through the planned redundancies from tomorrow. The union says the academy will not be able to fulfill the timetable next term and will have to spend thousands of pounds to employ supply teachers – cash which could be used instead to keep the current staff in their posts until April at least.

National Executive rep for Greater Manchester, Karen Hopwood, told UnionNews: “The longer this dispute has gone on, the more concerned I’ve become about how the academy is run.

“When Oasis took over in 2009, they had £8 million in their own reserve funds. They took over a £1.5m debt on the school and that was paid off by the local authority. That money came from the budgets of all the other schools in the area. They’ve had another £1m from central government and now they tell us they can’t find around £23,000 to keep six teachers in jobs till the spring.”

The union has called on Education Secretary Michael Gove to intervene to halt the redundancies. It says management at the academy has made appointments to high-salaried, additional posts despite its financial deficit.

The union is also asking why the Oasis Trust is no longer required to publish its audited finances publicly. NASUWT has been told it cannot file Freedom of Information inquiries into the organistion’s accounts.

Today’s action is the latest in a series of strikes by NASUWT and NUT. There are more details here.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Teachers and pupils face a bleak new year. Most of the teachers being made redundant have no job to go to.

“Had the school still been part of a local authority family of schools, I have no doubt the necessary short-term small financial cushion could have been found. Being part of an academy chain and funded by the YPLA, the quango established by government to fund academies, is clearly no protection for schools in difficulties.”

“Staff have been absolutely solid behind the action,” says Karen Hopwood.

“After today’s strike, we will talk to members about continuing the action into next term, possibly by refusing to fill in behind the teachers who are being sacked.”