Hastings teachers take strike action

Teachers on the picket line outside of ARK Helenswood Academy. Photo by Jonathan Lee.
Teachers on the picket line outside of ARK Helenswood Academy. Photo by Jonathan Lee.

Teachers at a Hastings school are expected to begin a two-day strike action today (Wednesday, May 16) due to a dispute over working practices.

According to ARK Helenswood Academy, members of the NASUWT teachers union are taking strike action today and tomorrow (Thursday, May 17), leading to the closure of most of the school.

The union is understood to in a dispute with school leaders over working practices, workload and the "withholding of pay entitlements for teachers at the bottom of the main pay scale" at the Ark Academy Trust school.

In a letter sent to parents earlier this week, Ark Helenswood principal Tracy Dohel said: "Our main concern is, as always, the safety, health and wellbeing of our students. Year 11 to 13 students will be within the busiest period of exam preparation and we will endeavour to ensure that this strike will not have a negative impact on their studies at this crucial time.

"In order to support them, the school will remain partially open for both days - to Years 11 to 13 only. Year 11 to 13 students will be expected to attend school, in school uniform."

In her letter Ms Dohel says the school has been told the union is to hold four further strike days on May 23 - 24 and June 7 - 8.

Ms Dohel said: "We are committed to supporting our students, who deserve the very best education that we can deliver. We are enormously grateful for the dedication and commitment of our staff at Ark Helenswood, and feel it is vital that we continue to work together to address the school improvement priorities and improve the outcomes and life chances of our students.

"I would like to reassure parents/carers that we will continue to listen to the union, working together to resolve the remaining issues. Thank you for your patience and understanding."

Earlier this year a planned strike action was called off at the last minute after the union and the academy trust returned to the negotiating table. Five other strike days - which had been scheduled for April and the beginning of this month - also did not proceed.