Littlehampton teachers strike over ‘Big Brother’ fears

Some of the teaching staff and union representatives on strike during a protest at The Littlehampton Academy, on Wednesday (April 17) PHOTO: Liz Pearce
Some of the teaching staff and union representatives on strike during a protest at The Littlehampton Academy, on Wednesday (April 17) PHOTO: Liz Pearce

“SIGNIFICANT disruption” was caused at a Littlehampton school yesterday (Wednesday, April 17) as dozens of teachers went on strike in response to a growing row over working conditions.

A picket line was formed at the Fitzalan Road entrance of The Littlehampton Academy as teaching staff staged a rally in an attempt to voice their mounting concerns over what they claim is an “oppressive” Big Brother-style regime of regular staff inspections.

A total of 43 out of the academy’s 123 teachers took part in the morning action, which was called by both the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT union, which together represent around 75 per cent of staff at the school.

A spokeswoman from the NASUWT said many teachers were being forced to face around 45 Ofsted-style inspections, by leading figures at the academy, every year – which far exceeds the suggested national framework of just three per annum, suggested by the Government.

However, this is something the school’s principal Steve Jewell has disputed, saying he was “surprised” at the figure, and pointing out that a recent assessment at the academy, between September and April, showed the average amount of inspections per teacher was around six.

Maggie Bremner, the south’s regional organiser for the NASUWT, said: “You cannot teach under that kind of stress. It’s like having someone constantly over your shoulder nagging you.

“Teachers need to be able to have the flexibility to teach. They need to be able to find creative solutions to help their students.

“The method employed by the management team at the school is far too oppressive and doesn’t allow teachers here the flexibility to do what they do best.”

Teachers face 10-minute inspections by members of the school’s “Quality Assurance Team”, a combination of management staff and subject leaders.

However, the key subjects of English, maths and science have been hardest hit, with some teachers claiming that in a single lesson, one member of staff could face up to three inspections from three different people.

Mr Jewell said that he was “disappointed” by the action as it had caused a “significant level of disruption” to learning at the school.

He said he was willing to listen to the demands of those on strike but added that the school needed to continue its work in driving up standards. “Since opening we have raised standards at the academy significantly, however, there is no room for complacency and there is still much more to be done in order to provide the standard of education our students deserve.

“Our priority always has been and remains to provide outstanding education in a nurturing environment for the young people of Littlehampton.”

David Thomas, West Sussex secretary of the NUT, promised more action would follow, with up to five more days of strikes if concerns were not listened to.