Teachers prepared to strike over academies

A TEACHERS’ union leader said his members were likely to strike this term after education bosses pressed ahead with controversial plans to form three new academies.

Belmont School, durham academy
Belmont School, durham academy

A TEACHERS’ union leader said his members were likely to strike this term after education bosses pressed ahead with controversial plans to form three new academies.

Despite opposition from parents, school governors, staff and local residents, Durham County Council’s Cabinet agreed to go ahead with three new academies in Consett, Durham and Stanley.

The academies will be created by merging Belmont and Gilesgate schools in Durham, Moorside and Consett Sports College in Consett, and Stanley School of Technology with Greencroft in Stanley.

Although governors at Moorside, Stanley School of Technology and Belmont all appealed to the Cabinet against merging their schools, their appeals went unheeded.

After yesterday’s meeting at Durham County Hall Simon Kennedy, regional officer for the NASUWT union, said his members at Belmont were “very angry” at the plans to merge Belmont with Gilesgate. He said: “Teachers have overwhelmingly endorsed a call for industrial action.”

He had earlier addressed the Cabinet, urging members: “Don’t rush through imprudent change. Belmont is a good school, leave it as it is.”

Belmont resident Jim Cowan, also speaking against the merger of Belmont and Gilesgate schools, said it was “bizarre” that the authority planned to build an academy in Durham when they had no idea where it would be sited. Coun Owen Temple echoed the claims of former education director Keith Mitchell that the authority was being “blackmailed” by the government into accepting academies if it wanted money for new schools.

He said: “The County doesn’t even try to hide it. The government wants 400 academies, so the council is going to deliver three of them in return for being able to rebuild schools in the rest of the county.”

But Coun Claire Vasey, cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services at Durham County Council, said: “The development of academies in County Durham would mean a massive investment in the education of young people.”

In Stanley the academy would be sponsored by New College Durham. It would replace Greencroft Business and Enterprise Community School and Stanley School of Technology. In Consett and Durham City the academies would be sponsored by the Durham University led consortium DEEP (Durham Excellence in Education Partnership). The county council would be co-sponsor for all three academies.

 

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