Tensions simmer: Harold Hill school brands strike disruption as 'unacceptable' while NEU slams restructure as 'irresponsible'

Strike action

A photo taken from the picket line this morning (June 29) as strike action continues at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory school - Credit: John Delaney

Strike action has continued today at a Harold Hill school amid a dispute.  

Teachers and support staff in the National Education Union (NEU) who work at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory school went on strike again today and are set to do the same tomorrow (June 29 and 30) over a restructure which the NEU says would mean cuts to hours and pay grades. 

But the chief executive of Draper’s multi-academy trust (MAT) has warned the strikes will "severely hamper children’s education and future life chances”.  

Future dates have been set for further strike action, including July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14.  

It follows strike action last month and most recently on June 8

NEU district secretary for Havering, John Delaney, said: “There has been a shocking absence of movement from the management of the Drapers MAT, who lack either the will or the expertise to find a solution." 

He alleged the 12 highest earners across all three primaries and one secondary in the MAT school earn between £800,000 and £1million, adding: "It is this leadership who cannot find the £12,000 to settle the dispute.   

“The support staff are the lowest-paid workers in schools and it is socially irresponsible to ask them to pay the price of falling pupil numbers.”  

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Chief executive of the Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust, Bushra Nasir, said the continued strike action following two years of school disruption due to Covid is “extremely sad for all concerned”.  

She said: “This small core of union leaders are calling strikes to cause maximum disruption to our children and their families, it is unacceptable. 

“Whilst we absolutely recognise and respect the rights of individuals to take such action, we very much hope that the NEU will be pragmatic and engage in meaningful dialogue.”  

John Delaney

Further strike action will take place tomorrow (June 30) - Credit: John Delaney

Mrs Nasir said she feels the MAT has done “everything possible” to resolve the dispute and hoped strike action would be called off.  

She added: “The NEU, and some of their members, seem to be entrenched on such strike action and have offered little in terms of compromise.”  

Mrs Nasir stressed it is the pupils who "will suffer most” but added that the school is “planning to remain open for the majority of children”.  

“The MAT remains absolutely committed to resolving this dispute so we can move forward for the benefit of the children in our schools and our community.  

“We have offered further discussions with the unions and their members,” Mrs Nasir added.