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Thomas Bennett Teachers vote to strike

99% of the voters elected for strike action.

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Thomas Bennett teachers vote overwhelmingly for strike action over funding cuts and job losses

Teachers working at Thomas Bennett Community College in Tilgate, Crawley have voted to take strike action. Members of the National Education Union (NEU), voted by 99% in favour of the action, with a turnout of 89%. The school, operated by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) has threatened to make teachers redundant and make drastic funding cuts to areas such as support for children with special educational needs (SEN).

Regional Secretary, Paul McLaughlin said:

“This overwhelming result shows the enormous strength of feeling that members have over this devastating issue. We’re calling on the employer to come to the table with serious plans to save this school, otherwise we will be forced to take significant action.”

This follows a recent public meeting where 150 members of the school community including parents, pupils and staff came together with local councillors to oppose these plans by the academy trust.

The union has confirmed that any action will be non-disruptive of exams.

Local Representative and English Teacher in the school, Alex Ramiz said:

“Through this ballot result our members are sending a clear message to The Kemnal Academies Trust that they do not accept their outrageous proposals for running our school into the ground. They will take strike action unless TKAT come up with a more workable solution.”

NEU Regional Officer, Glenn Kelly added:

“TKAT have choices. They have £7 million of reserves they can use to save this school; the Chief Executive is paid £165,000 a year and they can renegotiate the terms of their PFI contract which costs £1 million per year. So far, they have been unwilling to consider these alternatives, and prefer to make our members redundant instead. These decisions would leave vulnerable children in the school without adequate levels of support.”

Angela Newman of the Crawley Community Action Group, a parent led body formed to help fight the cuts to the school, stated;

“I am one of the many parents who are concerned about Thomas Bennett and are determined to save the school. I want to speak up to say that we fully support the teachers who have balloted for action. It’s a shame that it has to get to this but, like us parents they are motivated only to save our school and to be able to provide the children with the education they deserve.”

Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council said:

“As the teachers said at the meeting last week, if you want to prevent the cuts to the school we need to be ready to stand together to defend our children’s education.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“It’s perfectly understandable and right that teachers at Thomas Bennett should highlight concerns about the future of the community college and I call on the academy trust who runs the school to respond fully to these worries so that pupils and parents can be assured for the future”

Education

Crawley pupils told they can either accept, use mock grades or take exam when results are announced this week

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West Sussex pupils will receive their A/AS Level and GCSE grades over the next week in very different circumstances this year.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic denied students the chance to sit any of their final exams. They will instead be given calculated grades based on an assessment of a range of their work.

The Department for Education yesterday announced that pupils will be given the option to accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive their mock results if higher, or sit an optional autumn written exam.

Many will be celebrating getting what they need to further their education or training and others will be getting ready to enter employment. As ever there will be those who didn’t get the grades needed or are unsure about what to do next – and for these young people help is available to them from the careers advice service run by West Sussex County Council.

Tania Corn is one of the council’s careers advisors on hand to offer guidance.

Tania said:

“If you receive your results and they’re not what you were expecting or you’re unsure what to do next, it can all feel a bit scary or overwhelming. It’s good to talk things through to see what direction to go in.

“Please do call or email the careers team. You’ll be able to register and receive one-to-one support from one of our advisors. They’ll be able to discuss your situation and help you consider your options.”

A/AS Level results day takes place on 13 August 2020 with GSCE results day a week later on 20 August.

The DfE has announced that it won’t publish results from English schools as normal later this year, including results from primary schools, and confirmed that 2020 grades won’t count in measuring a school’s performance.

Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

“The pandemic has been tough on so many and for young people aged 16 to 18, it has come at a crucial time in their education.

“Much hard work will have gone into preparing to sit final exams, so I thank these young people for being so adaptable, and their schools for supporting them so well. They have even been denied the tradition of going into school to collect results and say goodbye to teachers and classmates.

“These young people have shown remarkable resilience which will stand them in good stead for the future. I cannot thank them, and their teachers enough for all their hard work and flexibility during what has been such a disruptive time.

“I hope that those in need of some guidance get in touch with our careers advisors, who are there to help them.”

You can contact the careers team by calling 0330 222 2700 or email careersadvice@westsussex.gov.uk

More information is available on our BacktoSchool webpages

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