Strikes over job losses after managers take prize for insensitivity at sports day

17th July 2009 at 01:00
Colleague fury as one of six teachers to be made redundant is reduced to tears

Teachers are staging a series of strikes in protest at redundancies after a colleague was told she was losing her job in front of pupils at a school sports day.

Staff and union officials are outraged at the way job losses at Haggerston School for Girls in Hackney, east London, have been handled. The teacher who was told of the school's decision at sports day is said to have been reduced to tears by the news.

The school has issued an apology: "Redundancies are distressing for everyone," a spokeswoman said.

"It's not how we would have wanted to tell her and we have apologised to her for making a difficult situation more distressing."

Six teachers are losing their jobs at the school, which has a significant number of surplus places, in a bid to cut costs. The school also claims that a staff reorganisation is needed to drive up exam results, which headteacher Maggie Kalnins said have been "stubbornly static" for a number of years.

But the NUT has reacted angrily to the imposition of compulsory redundancies and has already staged three one-day strikes over the past week, causing the partial closure of the school. A further four days of strikes are planned for the beginning of the new term in September, the union said.

Mark Lushington, a spokesman for Hackney NUT, said: "The situation raises serious questions about the professionalism and judgment of the headteacher and other senior managers. To inform a teacher of redundancy while officiating at a sports day is bizarre and grotesque.

"We will not accept compulsory redundancies. The school has not explored alternative options and we have not been properly consulted. If someone can explain to me how cutting these posts will improve teaching, I'd be delighted to listen."

The school is going to become co-educational from September 2010, but will only accept boys into Year 7, meaning it will take a number of years for the surplus places throughout the school to be filled.

Staff had been told that decisions on who would be made redundant would be announced on the date of the school sports day.

"Unfortunately one staff member didn't come to school, but went straight to the sports track, where her line manager later told her the news and advised her to contact the headteacher and that she didn't need to remain on duty," a school spokesman said.

"We are offering career support, financial advice and personal counselling to all affected staff for the duration of their six-month notice period till the end of December."

Misconduct upheld

The former headteacher of a primary school that teaches one of the children of London mayor Boris Johnson has lost an appeal after he was fired for gross misconduct.

Jay Henderson was sacked from Canonbury School in Islington, north London, for failing to carry out proper background checks on staff. He also faced allegations that he watched pornography in his office.

Mr Henderson said: "I am now considering legal action against the governors, who have a responsibility for the welfare of headteachers."

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