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Darwen Vale school closed as teachers strike

Lancashire Telegraph: PROTEST Teachers outside Darwen Vale this morning PROTEST Teachers outside Darwen Vale this morning

MORE than 60 disgruntled teachers are protesting outside Darwen Vale High School this morning.

The NUT and NASUWT members at the school demonstrated after claiming management had failured to back up disciplinary actions against unruly pupils.

Cars honked their horns in support of the action as they drove passed the Holden Fold site.

Staff began protesting at 7.30am. Members of the National Union of Teachers met with the school’s bosses yesterday as they tried to avert action.

But last night the staff said they remained unsatisfied and the industrial action would continue as planned, closing the school for a day.

Last week a ballot revealed that members of the NUT and the NASUWT voted overwhelmingly to take strike action to protest against the management’s failure to support staff in dealing with challenging pupil behaviour.

The dispute is supported by members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the support staff’s union, UNISON.

NUT national executive and Blackburn with Darwen representative Simon Jones, manning the picket line, said: "We are delighted with the turnout and the support we are receiving.

"This is not a strike against pupils. It is about management, and management failure to support staff in dealing with challenging behaviour.

"No one wants to demonise the children here, they are no better or no worse than any other.

"The biggest difference between this school and other schools is the management failure to support staff."

He said negotiations would resume after the Easter holidays and it was hoped that further strike action can be avoided.

He said: “Members are taking strike action as a last resort because of the headteacher’s continued denials that there is a problem with pupil behaviour in the school.

"And her refusal to engage properly with staff and unions to find effective solutions to these challenges.”

Hilary Torpey, headteacher of Darwen Vale High School, said: “My main priority is around the wellbeing and education of our pupils and the best interests of the school.

"I want to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

“I am disappointed that the trade unions have chosen to take this action.

"The vast majority of pupils at Darwen Vale behave well and take their education seriously.

“We are in discussions with the unions and with the staff around how we can best resolve this situation so that staff feel well supported when they do need to deal with behaviour issues.”

Outside the school this morning, Harry Devonport, director of education at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, suggested the teachers had been hasty in going out on strike.

"I am very disappointed that, so quickly, teachers have felt the need to take strike action," he said.

"There has only been two meetings to discuss this. The council is working hard to bring the leadership of the school, together with the unions, to clarify what needs to be done."

Click on the links below for our video, photo gallery and previous stories on the Darwen Vale strike.

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