NEU brands restructure 'detrimental' while trust says union 'not putting pupils first': Harold Hill school strikes resume

Members of the National Education Union were striking over a cut in hours and pay

Members of the National Education Union were striking over a cut in hours and pay - Credit: John Delaney

Strikes at a Harold Hill school over pay grades and hours cuts have continued amid a restructuring dispute between a union and the multi-academy trust. 

Teachers and support staff from Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory School who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) first went on strike on May 17, with several more dates also scheduled to take place. 

These included May 24 and 25, and while the earlier date was postponed, yesterday union members were protesting outside the school. 

It is understood the NEU offered to suspend the strike in return for a postponement of the restructure, but this was refused by Drapers’ MAT. 

Bushra Nasir, Drapers’ MAT chief executive, said the school remained open to the majority of pupils, and the principal was in contact with families to advise them on which classes and year groups would be affected. 

The former headteacher of Plashet School Bushra Nasir

Chief executive of the Drapers’ MAT, Bushra Nasir - Credit: Ken Mears

She said: “It is our view the NEU are not putting the interest of our students first. They have already faced huge disruption in recent years during the pandemic. These strikes will only make the process of catching up even harder. 

“The Drapers’ MAT remains committed to continued dialogue and discussion with the NEU and their members in the hope we can avoid the proposed strike action after the half-term break.” 

The NEU says it is asking for more information on how the MAT decided upon the reductions in pay grades and hours. 

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John Delaney, NEU district secretary for Havering, said: “The lack of information means this is not a meaningful consultation. We need much more detail about it.”

National Education Union members striking outside Drapers' Pyrgo Priory School on May 25

National Education Union members striking outside Drapers' Pyrgo Priory School on May 25 - Credit: John Delaney

He added staff at the school have raised safeguarding as a key issue under the restructure. 

“The proposal will have a detrimental impact on the safeguarding of pupils in the school," Mr Delaney alleged. "Staff are concerned that the proposal is neither workable, viable or safe."

As well as Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory School, Drapers’ MAT also runs Drapers’ Academy, Drapers’ Brookside Infant School, Drapers’ Maylands Primary School and Drapers’ Brookside Junior School. 

Further strikes are scheduled to take place on June 7, 8 and 9.