Talks are due to be held today in a bid to stave off more teacher strikes and resolve a dispute over plans to overhaul a Staffordshire town’s secondary education system.
Members of the NASUWT and National Union of Teachers are expected to meet Staffordshire County Council chiefs after the authority’s new leader, Coun Philip Atkins, agreed to review the council’s position on the controversial Building for Staffordshire’s Future plans.
Both unions have staged several day-long strikes at Tamworth’s secondary schools in protest at plans to close all the sixth forms, open a post-16 centre and turn Woodhouse Business and Enterprise College into an academy. And yesterday the NASUWT staged another strike at four secondary schools – Woodhouse, Belgrave, Rawlett and Wilnecote – as well as a rally and march through the town centre.
Richard Sidley, NASUWT executive member for Staffordshire, said: “We went ahead with yesterday’s action because we thought it important to keep the issue formally in the public eye and keep the pressure on the county council.
“The people of Tamworth applauded us as we marched through the town centre. We hope the county council will come up with positive proposals.”
The NUT was also due to take part in yesterday’s strike but called off their involvement as a “gesture” to the new leadership after it agreed to the review.
Midlands regional officer Rob Kelsall, said: “We are hoping for a constructive dialogue with the new council and hope it will engage with unions in finding a solution to the current situation that teachers, the community of Tamworth and the public don’t like.”
The council’s deputy leader Coun Ian Parry said: “I’m disappointed the NASUWT took strike action a day before a pre-arranged meeting with union representatives to discuss the way forward. The council’s cabinet has only recently announced we are reviewing the council’s position.
“Part of this review will involve talking to those involved to get a feel for the issues around this investment.
“We need to ensure any policy decisions will be based on what we all wish for, achieving the best future educational and career outcomes for the young people of Tamworth.”