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Village School head laments strike action amid academy row – but union says members still have no guarantees

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 June 2018

Placard-bearing protestors gather around the gates of Kingsbury's The Village School during a previous protest. Picture: Brent NEU

Placard-bearing protestors gather around the gates of Kingsbury's The Village School during a previous protest. Picture: Brent NEU

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The headteacher of a school embroiled in a battle with union members has bemoaned the “detrimental impact” of further strikes on its students.

Members of the Brent National Education Union (NEU) embarked on their 12th day of strike action outside the Village School in the run-up to half-term over pay and working conditions.

The Kingsbury special needs school will join Woodfield School to form a multi-academy trust (MAT), starting in September, and NEU members have been seeking assurances over the protection of their salaries and trade union policies.

In response to the strikes, executive headteacher Kay Charles told the Kilburn Times: “Governors have offered to create a harmonised set of HR policies that would apply across both schools and these would then be protected within the trustees’ agreement.

“A similar provision would apply to the trade union recognition and facilities agreement once it is agreed.

“The current strike action by the NEU is therefore felt unnecessary and will continue to have a detrimental impact upon children within our care and their families.”

Strikes were a regular feature outside the school gates, as well as at the Brent Civic Centre, in the six months prior to the Department for Education granting approval for the academy plans in May.

Cllr Jumbo Chan, who has opposed the plans from the start, said: “It was incredibly disappointing that the governing body – despite intense opposition from local campaigners, parents and the school’s dedicated and passionate teachers and support staff – chose to academise.

“To hear that the management has now, contrary to earlier promises, allegedly denied staff full written protection of their existing employment policies, compounded by a failure to offer proper, adequate channels for trade union members to express their opinions, is profoundly shameful.

“I offer my continued solidarity and support to the school’s outstanding staff, who were forced to go on strike to guarantee their long-term job security.

“I also urge the school’s management to not only honour their earlier promises, but to put a pause to the misguided process towards academisation altogether.”

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