Consign dispute to the ashes

12th January 2007 at 00:00
What a shame that a compromise cannot be reached in the increasingly bitter TLR dispute at Swansea's Penyrheol comprehensive (page 3). As more strike action is threatened, it is surely time for both sides to put an end to the hostilities that must be casting a cloud over both staff and pupils.

When their school was reduced to ashes last March, the recovery was nothing short of miraculous. It was down to the team spirit, dedication and hard work of staff, parents and pupils. They worked tirelessly together to get their school community back to where it was before a teenage arsonist struck.

Pupils' coursework had gone up in smoke just weeks before their exams and, with no base, the unfortunate candidates must been left feeling apprehensive and fearing the worst. But the brilliant teamwork shown by staff then appears to have crumbled in the face of the current dispute.

Teachers' pockets have been hit and, after all the upheaval, who can blame exhausted staff for feeling their efforts over the past year have been ignored, even taken for granted. But there are always two sides to a story.

Heads who have been faced with opposition to their restructuring plans - and there have not been many in Wales - have not taken decisions lightly.

Faced with the prospect of redundancies, they see lower salaries as one way of keeping jobs going. Others, like Alan Tootill, say they have simply taken away responsibilities that teachers should not have been doing in the first place.

It is unfortunate that Penyrheol's senior leadership is twice as big as those in schools of similar size, meaning more experienced teachers have been hit. If what the NUT Cymru reports is right, some of those teachers have decided to leave or retire. Others remain in the hope that the threat of strike action will lead to a change of heart.

Mr Tootill has said he will sit down and talk once more. But, after the year from hell, it is doubtful that he will have much sympathy for strikers. We only hope the united front shown last year by staff will rise like the phoenix from the ashes once again.

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