Parent brands teachers' strike 'appalling' after pupils told to study from home

A parent has criticised teachers for going on strike at a Black Country school where concerns have been raised about working conditions.

St Peter's Collegiate School in Wolverhampton
St Peter's Collegiate School in Wolverhampton

The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said the strike action is affecting the education of her child who attends St Peter's Collegiate School, in Wolverhampton.

She said the teaching of her child, who is in Year 10, has already been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and she is considering paying for private tuition, especially as critical GCSE exams approach. During the pandemic, students have been taught over video link.

At least forty members of staff have taken three-day strike action from Tuesday to Thursday over concerns about workload and safety.

Students in Years 10 and 11, alongside those in sixth form, have been told to stay at home on those days, with special timetables given to them, said the school. However, the unnamed parent said her child has only been given one piece of work.

The mother said: "I think it is appalling that teachers have gone on strike. Nurses are working, you have got people going back into work. You just have to get on with it. Just as the whole country opens up, the school closes. That is unforgivable.

"I would understand the strike action if the Zoom calls and teaching was exceptional, I would forgive them for feeling worried about safety.

"But not when they are safe at home, and the standard of education is not where it needs to be. Don't get me wrong, some of the teachers are very good. I know the headteacher has commented saying they are disappointed in the strike action.

"The school is closed to Year 10 and 11 students [during the strike action], Years 7, 8 and 9 are still going in. As far as I am aware, my child has been sent one piece of work. That's it.

"I wouldn't be surprised if my child's grades drop. I am getting myself ready to pay for tuition."

Sad

Readers also shared their concerns on social media. Writing on the Express & Star's Facebook page, one wrote: "These youngsters have spent the best part of a year out of school."

Another wrote: "It’s sad that pupils can’t attend school. It’s sad that teachers feel the need to strike. Such decisions are never taken lightly."

Teachers' union NASUWT said staff had raised concerns over "adverse management practices" including workload, as well as a "failure to consult" and health and safety issues.

St Peter's is overseen by the Lichfield Diocese. It is due to be officially taken over by the diocese's newly formed Three Spires Trust on May 1.

Current headteacher Jonathan Arnold, who took over in September 2020, said in a letter to parents: "The governors, the diocese and I are very disappointed that some of the teachers have taken this decision, especially on the back of a year in which children’s education has been so badly disrupted already."

Dr David Lee, chairman of the Three Spires Trust, said: "The planned industrial action by some members of staff began today and is set to continue on Wednesday and Thursday.

"The school pre-arranged for sixth-form students to work from home on set pieces of their coursework. The rest of the school’s students, in Key Stages 3 and 4, came in as usual after the school arranged a special timetable for them. To ensure that all students’ learning continues, this will happen again on Wednesday and Thursday for Key Stage 3; while Key Stage 4 students, and sixth-form students, will work from home.

"Members of Three Spires Trust are supporting the school through this time as they put these measures in place so that that students’ education is not disrupted. We would like to reiterate our thanks to the staff who came into work, students, parents and the community for their ongoing support and cooperation."

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