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The Saint Leonards Academy

Staff strike at four Hastings Brighton Academy trust schools

Staff are going on strike at five University of Brighton Aacademy trust schools in East and West Sussex, four out of five of which are in Hastings. Nick Childs reports for the National Education Union.

On the 1 and 2 of July school staff in East and West Sussex went on strike over their workload following school funding concerns across the University of Brighton Academy Trust.

Members of the UK’s largest education union, the National Education Union (NEU) have taken strike action at schools across an academy trust in Sussex in a dispute over workload and job cuts linked to school funding.

The strike across five of the University of Brighton Academy Trust’s schools is believed to be the first academy trust wide dispute of its kind. It follows staff raising serious concerns over the academy chain’s funding model. This has seen more than double the national average amount of funding being held back from schools by the Trust, meaning that in some schools up to 28% of the money allocated did not reach it.

The Hastings Academy

The dispute has arisen out of excessive workload and job cuts resulting from underfunding.

Negotiations have resulted in the Trust agreeing to radically change its funding model for its schools, but teachers and support staff in schools have not got the assurances they need that only the central trust, not the schools themselves, will pay for the changes. Further assurances over support staff numbers have also not been obtained.

Strikes took place on 1 and 2 July at the following schools: Burgess Hill Academy, Hastings Academy, St Leonard’s Academy, Robsack Wood Academy and the Baird Academy. Further strike ballots at Lindfield Primary Academy and Blackthorns Primary Academy are currently also underway.

The Baird Primary Academy

Pickets were planned outside the schools between 7.30 and 9.30am on each strike date. Daniel Kebede, NEU General Secretary, attended the picket at Burgess Hill Academy (RH15 9EA) on 2 July while Phil Clarke, the union’s East Sussex Branch Secretary and NEU Vice President, attended pickets at various schools in the Hastings area on 1 July (for details see number below).

Commenting on the situation, Phil Clarke said:

“We are pleased the Trust has agreed to radically change its funding system to address our members’ workload concerns and to make sure that never again can they take such huge sums of money out of their schools. However, members are not satisfied with how long this will take to correct and the lack of a clear commitment from the Trust that other school budgets will not be raided to pay for this.

“It is also clear that to win back the trust of staff and parents who have shown huge support for our action, there must be an accounting for the decisions taken. These decisions have left thousands of children in schools that have been dramatically underfunded. If schools were still run by the local authority this simply would not be happening”.

Robsack Wood Primary Academy

Emily Ellis, a parent at a University of Brighton Academy Trust School, added:

“I fully support the strike. I am appalled that a CEO on a six-figure salary has made decisions to take money from our children’s schools to fund marketing teams instead of teachers and teaching assistants. The funding crisis caused by the government is already unacceptable. To make that even worse at a Trust level cannot be justified. Special Educational Needs provision, teaching assistants and classroom resources should have been put before executive salaries and corporate branding.”


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Posted 08:19 Tuesday, Jul 2, 2024 In: Campaigns

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