Strike action at John Cabot Academy suspended after breakthrough in talks

A breakthrough in the dispute between teaching unions and the John Cabot Academy today brought a halt to six days of threatened strike action.

In a statement the school, which is run by the Cabot Learning Federation, said it was “extremely pleased” that strike action originally planned to begin tomorrow had been suspended by the NUT and NASUWT unions.

The CLF said: “The Academy has agreed to continue to work to address the issues raised by staff via their unions and we are confident that these will be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties over the coming weeks.

cabot“The Academy would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and students for their patience and support.  We would also like to thank the staff for this positive outcome.”

It is understood that more than 70 teachers had been on the verge of taking industrial action. Tomorrow’s walkout would have been followed by five days of more industrial action during January.

Industrial action had looked likely up until talks resumed today. At the end of last week, Steve Taylor, chief executive officer of the Cabot Learning Federation, accused the NUT and NASUWT of being “determined to strike at all costs” even though 80% of concerns had been resolved by then, and accused the union of introducing new demands.

But last Friday the union reps dismissed that claim as a “complete misrepresentation of the situation”, saying the remaining issues were the “core” ones – workload, performance management objectives, drop-ins and safety in science labs.

They were demanding a directed time budget for teachers from September, including all that they do during the school day, by reducing teaching hours in line with other schools. In terms of performance management objectives, they wanted them reduced to three, which they said was “the norm”.

They said they have moved a long way on the matter of managers dropping in unannounced to observe teachers’ lessons: “We agree to a review of them being conducted by the whole staff provided that the unions can monitor how this is done and the outcome to protect our members’ interest.”

And they admitted that safety in science labs had “moved up the agenda in terms a settlement” at the insistence of members, saying: “Science classes are too large at JCA for the science labs. Teachers are obliged to use practicals to teach science but cannot do so safely. We have put forward a sensible solution with a reasonable timescale. It has become one of the terms for settlement because we cannot accept any more vague promises. It is a question of children’s safety.”

Tonight Wendy Exton, National Executive Member of the NASUWT, and Nigel Varley, secretary of the South Glos branch of the NUT, said in a joint statement: “After lengthy negotiations, we have reached sufficient agreement with the management of John Cabot Academy to suspend strike action.

“We have accepted assurances that they have given on reducing workload and the pressures of performance management which we accept in good faith in the hope that positive working relationships can be restored at the John Cabot Academy.”