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Posted on 23 June 2011 at 10:58 GMT

Forest Hill school strike, Lewisham, June 2011, photo Martin Powell Davies

Forest Hill school strike, Lewisham, June 2011, photo Martin Powell Davies   (Click to enlarge)

'No redundancies!' say Forest Hill school teachers

Thursday 23 June was the first day of strike action taken by National Union of Teachers (NUT) members at Forest Hill school in Lewisham, south east London, to protest against compulsory redundancies.

Over 50 were on strike and over 30 were on the lively picket line at 8am.

This follows on from a successful lunchtime protest a month ago.

The teachers are fighting to stop the sacking of a teacher - in August an English teacher is set to lose his job. This is the second year in a row that the school is cutting jobs.

Lewisham council argues that cuts are necessary as the school is running at a deficit.

Yet as the NUT leaflets explained, just as with the pensions dispute nationally, staff are being asked to pay for the mistakes of others. The deficit at Forest Hill is not caused by falling pupil numbers but mistakes made over the cost of sports facilities and the high cost of the private finance initiative (PFI) contract for the new school building.

It was Lewisham council that encouraged the school to sign up to an expensive £23.5 million PFI deal when it was rebuilt in 2008.

The support from staff - and from the public - was tremendous. Striking teachers handed out leaflets at local train stations and to parents at local feeder primary schools.

The teachers' message was: "Forest Hill is a good school - let's keep it that way - No redundancies!"

One local mum responded: "Good on you - someone's got to fight".

The teachers are determined to fight these cuts and to make sure that the national pensions strike on 30 June is just as solid.

Martin Powell Davis and Chris Newby

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 23 June 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist under the title "Forest Hill school teachers strike".

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