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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 school celebrates science win with Ardingly College and their solar car

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Ifield Community College and Ardingly College have won the Times Educational Supplement Science, Technology and Engineering Team of the Year.  

Lead judge Jo Foster said that the project was “absolutely exemplary”. She added:

“From success in international racing events to effective outreach to other schools both at home and abroad, this project goes the extra mile.

Ardingly Ifield Solar has been running for nearly a decade educating hundreds of students in sustainable mobility technologies by designing, building, and racing solar powered cars.

It is a true collaboration between Ifield Community & Ardingly Colleges. In addition, the project works closely with 33 companies and three universities bringing the latest technologies right into the classroom.  

The team’s accolades include driving the solar powered car they made 3000km across Australia, outperforming  Cambridge and Stanford universities in the Bridgestone World Challenge; and racing in France and Belgium in Solar endurance races and being awarded a special ‘Spirit of Albi’ trophy whilst there.

The team were planning on raising awareness of sustainable transport nationally by travelling the length of the UK, but this has been postponed until August 2021 due to current Covid-19 restrictions. This has not stopped the team, who continue to meet twice a week virtually, and are planning their next project: a flat pack solar powered vehicle(a replacement Tuk Tuk).

Miss Sumpter, teacher at Ifield Community College says:

‘I am so happy the team has been recognised for their enthusiasm and dedication to STEM. It is a pleasure to be part of this project, and I am immensely proud of everyone involved. I hope the impact of this project will continue to influence STEM careers.’

For more information on their project, please visit their website: https://www.ardinglysolar.com

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