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Teachers to walk out at failing Willenhall E-ACT Academy

By Alex Ross | Willenhall | Education | Published:

Teachers at a failing school are set to take part in a walk-out tomorrow - but the school will remain open as normal.

Willenhall E-Act Academy

Willenhall E-ACT Academy, which received a damning Ofsted placing it in special measures, will bring in teachers from elsewhere to avoid closure.

The strike is being carried out by members of National Union of Teachers (NUT) and NASUWT Teachers Union over 'unreasonable' management and the safety of staff.

They have also announced two further walk-outs next month, and are not ruling out more if demands for better support are not met.

Unions bosses said around 60 teachers at the school were members. The school is run by academy sponsor E-ACT, which sponsors 23 other state-funded academies.

MORE: Willenhall E-ACT Academy pupils pelt Ofsted inspectors with food as school put in special measures

A spokesman for E-ACT said the strike action was 'extremely disruptive' and revealed it had offered to delay bringing in a new timetable as part of a deal for the walk-out to be called off, but to no avail.

Russ Bragger, secretary at Walsall NUT, said: "Our members have had strong concerns over the past nine months over the constant changes in systems which keep coming in with every new person.

"The staff are very keen to improve the school for the current and future pupils but unfortunately E-ACT are not listening to them.

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"We are very concerned about the safety of staff, the school’s behaviour management systems and unreasonable management demands.

"They need the support, or we will keep seeing the high turnover which is damaging any prospect of this school improving."

The Ofsted report published in May rated the school 'inadequate' - the lowest rating - in every category.

MORE: How was school where Ofsted inspectors were pelted with food allowed to get into this state?

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Now in special measures, the school will be monitored more closely by the education watchdog to ensure improvement.

The report found 70 per cent of teachers left the school during 2015 and 2016.

It also found over a third of pupils in Years 7 to 11 are persistently absent, and Ofsted inspectors were pelted with food by misbehaving children during the visit.

Students felt unsafe because of repeated poor behaviour and teachers are regularly interrupted by pupils during lessons, the report added.

In a statement from the NUT, the union said: "We have been unable to get E-ACT to address the staff’s concerns and suggestions for improving the school that have been put forward over many months.

"We therefore have no option but to sanction strike action."

The spokesman for E-ACT said: "Strike action can be extremely disruptive to both students and carers. Naturally, we have been keen to avert the strike action, and to this end, we offered to delay the implementation of a new timetable if the NUT and NASUWT agree to call off the strike.

"Sadly, the unions have rejected this offer. We can confirm, however, that supported by colleagues from elsewhere in E-ACT, the academy will be opening as normal on Tuesday."

He added: "We take seriously the concerns raised by union members, and believe that these are being addressed at pace and with urgency. Raising the expectations at Willenhall is the absolute top priority for E-ACT and a raft of changes and improvements are already under way."

The unions said further walk-outs will take place on July 5 and 6.

More dates could be announced 'if the issues are not addressed', added the union.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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