Long Stratton High School staff could take industrial action as expulsion of pupil in blade row is overturned

Deborah Sacks, chairman of governors at Long Stratton High School

Deborah Sacks, chairman of governors at Long Stratton High School - Credit: Archant

Teachers and staff at a high school could take industrial action after governors over-ruled a decision to expel a boy who allegedly brought a blade onto its premises.

John Wilson, headteacher of Long Stratton High School

John Wilson, headteacher of Long Stratton High School - Credit: Archant

Long Stratton High School headteacher John Wilson permanently excluded the teenager, who is currently on police bail after he was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a 'bladed article'.

However, governors over-ruled his decision, sparking a furious reaction from some staff, who wrote to them, describing their decision as 'utterly concerning, to say the least'.

Scott Lyons, joint division secretary for Norfolk NUT, described the alleged incident as 'very worrying', and called for a policy of zero tolerance of weapons at the school.

He confirmed the union was offering advice about possible industrial action.

Long Stratton High School. Photo: Nick Butcher

Long Stratton High School. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

The school's chairman of governors, Deborah Sacks, said she could not comment on the individual case, but said behaviour at the school was 'usually extremely good', and it was reviewing matters concerning pupil expulsions.

The boy was allegedly caught with the item, believed to have been concealed in a book with hollowed-out pages, on November 6.

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The dispute between staff and governors over his presence at the school culminated last week when staff, supported by the NUT, NASUWT, ATL and Unison unions, sent the formal letter outlining their feelings. It said: 'The decision to overrule this particular type of weapon-related permanent exclusion clouds the message and ethos of the school of ensuring the safety and well-being of all students and staff.

'All staff feel that our school must have zero tolerance to knives with a policy stating that 'if you bring a weapon into school you will be excluded' as any grey areas will surely lead to confusion.

'This puts staff into a very difficult position when questioned by students and parents.

'Staff feel vulnerable and are fearful for their security within the school.

'This is caused by the fact that the school does not implement a weapons policy with clear definition of consequence in terms of breaching this policy.'

Mr Lyons said: 'There were opportunities for the governors to step up and use their duty of care to support staff and pupils.

'They feel very let down and worried. The head supported the staff and believed the staff could possibly be at risk.'

Mr Wilson was not available for comment, and the school said no other members of staff wanted to say anything.

Ms Sacks, chairman of governors at Long Stratton, said they wanted to work with staff to ensure they have 'fullest possible confidence in matters concerning pupil expulsions' and was setting up a working party with senior teachers to see if changes needed to be made and to review its complaints and behaviour policies.

She added: 'We have a very clear behaviour policy and behaviour in our school is usually extremely good, and we have relatively few permanent and temporary exclusions, but we do have some.'

Asked about possible strike action, she said: 'I think it has crossed the minds of some people, but it is not going to happen.

'We have had discussions with the relevant staff and unions, and that is not going to happen.'

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk