Talks taking place today to try to avert series of strikes at John Cabot Academy in Kingswood

john cabotSenior leaders at an outstanding Kingswood school were today trying to ward off a proposed series of walk-outs by teachers starting next week.

The Cabot Learning Federation, which runs the John Cabot Academy in Woodside Road, says it is “disappointed” and “confused” by the action of the unions. It has invited the conciliation service ACAS and the NUT and the NASUWT to a meeting today to try to resolve the dispute which we understand is over issues including excessive workload, performance management and directed time.

The first strike next Tuesday would be followed by five more days of industrial action.

The CLF says it was informed by letter on 11th December of the unions’ intention to move to strike action. In a statement, the CLF said: “This was the first time the unions had made the Academy aware of its concerns.

“Immediately the Academy leadership team responded by setting up a meeting with union representatives on 17th December to discuss these concerns and, in the interim, worked hard to find solutions for the concerns raised in the unions’ letter. At the meeting on the 17th, of the 14 points raised in the letter, nine were successfully resolved and two were partially resolved, with time allowed for the leadership team to put further solutions in place.

“This felt like a very positive outcome of the meeting, given that this was the first meeting with the unions following the letter received six days earlier. However, with three key areas as yet unresolved, the unions informed us at the end of the meeting that it would be still their intention to move straight to strike action and we were further informed of six dates in January on which the strikes would take place.

“Understandably, the leadership of John Cabot Academy is very disappointed and in many ways confused as to why the unions wished to escalate the dispute immediately to strike action, in spite of the short time that the issues had been live and the considerable headway made in in our first meeting on these matters. In the circumstances the Academy believes this action to be unnecessary, bringing with it the potential of impacting unfairly on many families and adversely affecting students.

“The perspective of the academy is that the areas on which we have found resolution are local JCA matters, whereas the remaining open items are taken from the unions’ national strategy; while this also affects colleagues at JCA, of course, these items seem to be less specifically about our academy and more part of a broader national agenda.”

The CLF said it was hopeful that the strike could be averted “as we recognise that our colleagues would only want to strike as a last resort. If, in spite of our best efforts, the strike looks likely to go ahead next Tuesday, we will consider how possible it will be to keep the school open or partially open to students and communicate this with parents in the middle of this week, so that they can be made aware as far enough as possible in advance.”

The Academy, which opened in 2007, replaced the old John Cabot City Technology College. It is rated as outstanding by Ofsted.

The Week In has invited both the NUT and NASUWT to comment.