Sunday, September 24, 2017
Strikes at Forest Hill School suspended but lobbying in council stand off...

Strikes at Forest Hill School suspended but lobbying in council stand off to be held

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STRIKES at a school which has suffered eight in two months have been suspended by members of the National Union of Teachers to support pupils through the exam period.

Martin Powell-Davies, the NUT London Regional Secretary announced that its union members at Forest Hill School have voted to withdraw the strike action, which included two further days next week, until Thursday June 15.

The union is maintaining its position that a £1.3m cut to the staffing budget will severly damage the school in Dacre Road and is calling on Lewisham council to step in and help financially similar to the way Greenwich council has recently helped to resolve financial challenges at Plumstead Manor School.

Parents have spoken out to express worries over the education and welfare of the children of the school from the eight strike days over the issues since March. There are concerns that the school has become “the piggy in the middle” of “a stand off” between the unions and the council.

Many parents who are supportive of the unions action are organising a protest outside Catford Town Hall on Monday evening in a bid to get the council to help the school financially.

Mum Lynley Oram told SLP: “I am among the parents who support the union’s continuing action. I don’t like the fact there has been eight strike days but the union is battling to save the school which I do agree with. The effect of the cuts to staff posts will be horrendous and parents are worried future cuts to support staff could jeopardise the safety of their boys. We are very angry with the council for not stepping up to help the school and heartbroken really because Forest Hill is a hugely successful school where the attainment is good. But unless the council helps as other councils have around London than our children will not be getting the education they could have had. Like a lot of parents I am also upset that the school and the council are not talking  to us about what is going on.”

Mum Zoe Camenzuli, said: “There are a lot of parents like me on the picket lines supporting the union. I don’t like having the strike days but I don’t know what the option is to prevent the cuts from happening. We are also very worried as the school is not telling us what is really going on. We got a letter from the school saying there would be no changes but we have noticed them already. I am particularly concerned about the impact of cuts to staff on the boys pastoral care which is good at the school. Its really important that children feel safe at school otherwise their learning will be badly impacted. It appears that the mentor roles have gone, there is a big loss of teaching assistants and mid day supervisors. I am also worried about the restructuring of the performance department which was one of the school’s strengths.”

Mr Powell-Davies, said: “The NUT, with the support of the Forest Hill Parents’ Action Group, has spent the last two months campaigning, leafleting, lobbying councillors, holding rallies and meetings, and also having to take eight days of strike action. All of this has been done to try and persuade Lewisham Council to recognise the damage that £1.3 million of staffing cuts is going to do to Forest Hill School and to act to prevent that damage. As a consequence nearly 40 posts will be being cut from the school from September cutting vital support for Forest Hill students.”

Head teacher Mike Sullivan told SLP he and the governors are working hard to address the school’s substantial budget deficit.

He said: “We have formulated a reorganised school structure for next academic year which has kept a high quality of student experience at its core. NUT members are striking because of issues around teacher workload in our reorganised structure. It has been necessary for financial reasons to increase the time that teachers spend teaching classes, but this is within statutory limits.”

He said to meet the unions demands extra teachers  would need to be employed “at a cost of at least £200,000 per annum.”

Reporter | Resident of Lewisham for more than 25 years and studied sociology at Goldsmiths. Previously worked for many years as a picture researcher for book and part work publishers and joined The Mercury after studying for a NCTJ at Lambeth College. Big yoga and walking fan – not just in the country but also along the River Thames. Love South East London and wander around Lewisham town centre, Deptford High Street and Greenwich Town Centre at least once a week. Mandy has worked for the Mercury for 14 years.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have 3 boys . Forest hill school has been a fantastic nurturing environment where the staff have understood all kinds of boys and how to motivate them. Not always easy with teenage boys.
    That is being lost, decimated and the dedicated teachers totally demoralised by trying to squeeze themselves into the measures the school is forced to take to cope with the deficit that Lewisham will bare no resonsabiliity for.
    Please look at the facts presented by the nut and see how reasonable the teachers requests are and how close lewisham is to destroying one of its fee well performing schools.
    Parents want this school !

  2. As a parent I support totally the actions of the teachers at FHS. I chose this school because it is the top school in the borough. As a lecturer I am disgusted at the lack of urgency towards a open discussion from the council and the lack of consideration for the pupils and teachers, it is outrageous. During these strikes I have to find childcare as currently my son is ill and cannot be left alone, as teacher this has an impact on MY students I teach who have classes rearranged due to FHS strikes. This stress to all students, parents and teachers at FHS is unacceptable and there needs to be a priority for the council to sit and have open discussions with the NUT. Education is important so please put our boys first Lewisham council and sort out this funding with the NUT TODAY. Our boys needs routine and good teachers so stop the strikes and keep our teachers and support staff at FHS!!!!

  3. The situation at Forest Hill School is heart breaking. The school is without doubt the best in the Lewisham Borough and this is down to the exceptional staff whose dedication to the boys is second to none. We have to invest in the education of the next generation. Parents are becoming very anxious, not only are their children’s educations being taken away but their safety is seriously compromised with such severe staff cuts. There will be an incident – maybe then we will be listened to.

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Strikes at Forest Hill School suspended but lobbying in council stand off...