Teaching unions threaten industrial action over Harlesden school’s plans to become an academy

Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College has voted in favour of controversial status

Teaching unions have vowed to fight for a fair consultation after another school in the borough voted in favour of academy status.

The Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College in Crownhill Road, Harlesden has voted in favour of the plans following a consultation process with governors and staff.

But Hank Roberts, joint secretary of Brent teachers association, has branded the consultation a ‘farce’.

He said: “Staff, union members and parents should all be entitled to a full consultation about this, at the moment governors are not listening to staff and that has to stop.

“The parents and staff should all be entitled to a secret ballot.”

It was claimed that, during a meeting on Friday (20) less than half of the school’s staff had voted for fear of being found out and that many only heard the ‘pro-academy’ line.

Most Read

Schools which convert to academies break away from the local authority and are able to manage their own finances.

However, the move is often met with criticism as it results in funding being taken away from other schools in the local area.

Mr Roberts continued: “I have been involved with three schools wishing to convert in the borough, Claremont High School, Kingsbury High and now Convent of Jesus and Mary.

“Our ballots showed staff at Claremont were 72 per cent against and at Kingsbury were 84 per cent against, if the trend continues that would mean 96 per cent of staff would potentially be opposed to these plans.”

However, a spokesman for the Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College said that Governors agreed a ‘full and comprehensive consultation process’ that was in line with other diocesan schools.

He added: “The ballot of the staff was 83 per cent in favour of conversion.

“The unions are making a case to prevent the conversion but the governors have made the decision following the consultation process.”

As the Times went to press a ballot had been sent to all staff and union members.