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Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School shuts as 70 staff walk out
A SECONDARY school was forced to close yesterday after teachers went on strike over plans to become an academy.
About 70 staff belonging to two teaching unions, the NUT and NASUWT, staged a one-day walk-out at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School.
They cited concerns that educational standards could be threatened and they could be pressured into signing new contracts if the school is taken out of local authority control.
In a letter to parents, the headteacher of the high-performing school, Alan Porteous, said that disruption caused by the industrial action meant the safety of pupils could not be guaranteed.
He said: “Given the significant number of staff who are members of these two unions, the potential disruption to learning could be considerable and I do not feel that I am in a position to guarantee the safety of lower school pupils.
“I have therefore taken the decision to close the school to students.”
In a statement on behalf of the governing body, David King, chairman of governors, said: “The interests of the school, its current and future students and staff are best protected by conversion to an academy.
“The governors recognise the legitimate concerns of the teaching staff and in discussions with them and in the governance structure of the proposed academy have tried to address those concerns including a willingness to continue to recognise the teaching unions.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said parents, teachers and the local community were ‘united in their opposition’ to the conversion of the Waterfoot school to an academy.
He said: “Any change of this significance should be about raising standards. There’s no evidence that converting schools to academies raises standards.
“Academy status risks the current high performance of the school.”
John Girdley, the union’s national executive member for Lancashire, said: “The employer has not done anything to convince the vast majority of staff of the need for conversion. This is a dash for cash by governors.”
The school was expected to be open as normal today.