Castle Vale Performing Arts College in Birmingham is braced for further closures as teachers staged the first of three walkouts over claims of poor management and bad behaviour from pupils at the school.
Members of staff belonging to the NASUWT teaching union manned the picket lines outside the Castle Vale school on Wednesday amid a row over leadership at the secondary school.
The union has called for an investigation to be launched into management at the school, which it claims has led to job losses, “inappropriate staff restructuring” and poor behaviour from pupils.
Castle Vale recorded one of the lowest GCSE results in the city last year, with just 29 per cent of students gaining the benchmark five or more A*-C grades including maths and English.
This is compared to the Birmingham average of just under 58 per cent.
The 800-pupil school was closed to all but Year 11 pupils, with union leaders warning that further action was planned on March 20-21.
Anne Brimacombe, the NASUWT’s national executive member for the West Midlands, said 50 teachers had taken to the picket line after two years of negotiations had “got them nowhere”.
But head teacher Clive Owen said he was “disturbed” by the action and accused the union of “damaging the education” of GCSE students ahead of their GCSE exams in the summer.
Ms Brimacombe said: “Teachers are out because of a lack of support over behaviour management and adverse management practices.
“We’ve been in negotiations with the school for over two years now and it’s just got to the point where some action has to be taken.
“They’re not happy to change and don’t accept there are any problems.
“The school has got the lowest GCSE results in the city and had an inadequate interim Ofsted report in February.
“We want the local authority to do an investigation into the governing body and management to find out what’s going on.”
The industrial action comes three months after a protest by students at the school descended into chaos when a thug threw a firework which narrowly missed a member of staff.
Around 100 pupils took part in a demonstration against changes to an English GCSE course, which eyewitnesses say was “hijacked” by youths from outside the school who began throwing eggs and fireworks.
Mr Owen said of the strike: “I am disappointed and disturbed that the NASUWT union has chosen to damage the education of our children in this way, and this at a time when many students are close to taking their important GCSE examinations. A number of meetings with the union have been held to avoid this.”
Castle Vale was deemed satisfactory in a Ofsted inspection in April 2010.
An interim inspection which took place in January found that while behaviour around the school was good standards were “not rising fast enough”.
Inspectors noted that while the attainment of students in Year 11 was better than the previous year in English, mathematics and science, they raised concerns about behaviour in lower years.
Behaviour was found to be “poor” in three lessons which were observed, and inspectors said children’s learning was affected by persistent low-level disruption in those classes.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, called on the local authority to launch a formal investigation into the school, and use its statutory powers to issue a warning notice of improvement on the school governing body.
She said: “They [the teachers] regret the disruption that pupils and parents will face but their action is about securing management practices and a staffing structure that will enable them to focus effectively on teaching and learning.
"They are committed to improving pupil achievement but their efforts are being undermined by poor management practices.
“If the local authority agrees to do this in an appropriate timescale, further strike action can be avoided.
“The ball is now in its court.”