'Would you take a pay cut and do the same job?': Support staff defend ongoing strikes

Strike action

A photo taken from the picket on June 29 as strike action continued at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory school - Credit: John Delaney

Members of an education union have defended ongoing strikes at a Harold Hill school, saying they are "undervalued and underpaid”.  

This comes after Draper’s Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) chief executive officer, Bashra Nasir, published a letter on July 7 in response to ongoing strike action at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory School. 

The school’s striking support staff have now penned their own open letter, where they state they “continue to be deeply concerned” about children’s education.  

Previously Mrs Nasir said the support staff restructure “needed to be carried out to address historical inequality issues” and to maximise learning opportunities and wellbeing of pupils while addressing a fall in pupil numbers in the last few years.    

The support staff, however, claim safeguarding roles have been cut and teaching assistants will no longer be available at the end of the day to assist with pick-up time.  

“This means you will no longer be able to have a conversation with the class teacher at the end of the day, but will need to make an appointment," they wrote. "We know this will be inconvenient for a lot of you.”  

The letter alleges MAT has cut hours and pay grades for the "same job or even taking on more responsibility", with "speech and language hours" also being decreased and teaching assistants to deliver the service.  

It also claims the special educational needs (SEN) co-ordinator's hours will be cut from four days to two days per week.

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The letter asks: “How will this work? We have a high percentage of children on the SEN register.” 

It alleges top earners in MAT earn between £800,000 and 1,000,000 per year.  

“Support staff across the country and undervalued and underpaid," the letter says. "If this can happen at Pyrgo it can happen anywhere.  

“Question - would you take a pay cut and do the same job?” 

The letter ends by saying staff are disappointed to continue striking, but want the best for the children - “we fight for them and ourselves” - it adds.  

MAT did not provide an updated comment, but has previously told this paper it is the pupils who "will suffer most" from the dispute. 

"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," Mrs Nasir said.