Introduction & Posting Guidelines - Please Read First
Industrial action in schools is always regrettable as it disrupts the education of pupils and the work committments of parents, as well as increasing divisions within the school, leading to lower morale and an unsettled atmosphere. Not good for anyone.
In such situations it is advisable for all parties to try to achieve absolute clarity when negotiating or imparting information.
As a general principle, it is also important not to impute or project motives onto individuals or organisations in communications to parents where a) those individuals or organisations have not been able to issue any statements to parents, and b) where they have no right, nor mechanism, of reply.
This arises because the NASUWT has called for industrial action at the school on Tuesday April 5th based on their understanding that the school has made the decision to proceed towards Academy status.
This is understandable because of this letter issued to parents on 28th Feb by Mr Ibison, chair of governors, in which he writes:
"Therefore, I can report that the Governing Body of Garstang High School recently convened an Extraordinary Meeting at which all the pros and cons of our prospective academisation were discussed. Subsequently, the Governors passed a resolution that the school should proceed towards Academy status, as they felt that this would best serve the interests of our school community."
Read the Full Letter
The union has, as have I, and many other parents, taken this to mean that a final decision had been taken and that the school will proceed towards making an academy application.
This now seems to be contradicted in this communication to parents from the headmaster Mr Birch on 31st March. Here he writes concerning the unions industrial action:
"The background to this strike action is our school’s consideration of converting to an academy at some stage in the next academic year. As you may have read in last week’s Courier, we are still at a relatively early stage of our consultation process, and no definitive decision on the school’s future has yet been taken.
It is evident, therefore, that strike action is being used pre-emptively, rather than as a last resort, to disrupt and undermine our stakeholder consultations."
Read the Full Letter
To avoid any further confusion, it would be helpful, for all concerned, if the school could put together a consultation document (here is an example), explaining what the consultation process will be, when it will run from and to, who will be consulted, what meetings will be held and when a final decision will be taken.
Without this, it will be difficult to achieve the sort of clarity needed to deal with this very sensitive issue. Everyone needs to know exactly what the process is and for there to be total transparency with everything, as much as possible, in the public domain. Without this, it is most certainly not fair to slur the unions' reputation, nor by implication, the integrity and responsibility of any teachers who may take part in any industrial action.