Teachers vote for strike over Diss High academy plans

Teaching staff in Diss could become the first in Norfolk to strike over academy plans after union members voted to take industrial action.

Members of the NASUWT trade union at Diss High School are set to go on strike next week following concerns about board of governors proposals to apply to the government for academy status.

The union says that about 50 staff will take a day of industrial action on Friday over concerns regarding future pay and conditions. If the strike goes ahead, the school has warned that some students will miss a day's education.

It comes after governors went ahead with an application to the Department for Education following a consultation with staff, parents, and the public, which would free Diss High from local authority control.

Russell Hammond, NASUWT national executive member for Norfolk, said there had not been enough consultation with members and there were concerns that current pay and conditions would not be adopted under an academy arrangement. He added that the union was prepared to talk with the board.

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'Our members feel very poorly treated by the governors; they don't feel they have been properly consulted and as a result are far from convinced that the change to an academy will be of any benefit to the students, community or themselves.'

'It is a very good school indeed and the headteacher is a good headteacher, so why put this at risk by going down the academy route?'

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Tony Billett, chairman of governors, said the board believed that academy status would help improve the school.

'It is very disappointing when a minority of staff take action which stops the education of our children. Out of 150 staff, less than 18pc are involved in this action.'

'The school has already received its academy order from the Department for Education, so it is difficult to see what the union hopes to gain from this action. The safety of our students is paramount and we have no option but to close the school to some pupils,' he said.

The application comes after the coalition government changed the criteria to allow 'outstanding' and 'good' wishing to become academies. The specialist humanities college was rated 'good' in its last Ofsted inspection in 2008.

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