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Rotherham teachers stand up to bullying head
If your school has 21% of students with some form of special educational needs, would you sack your Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)? If you needed to get rid of eight teaching posts to save money but eight teachers have resigned, three non-teaching staff have resigned and six teachers have agreed to work part-time, would you continue to make your SENCO compulsorily redundant? Of course not, but that's exactly what the headteacher at Swinton Comprehensive school in Rotherham is doing.
And that's why two dozen teachers at the school, members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), took a second day of strike action today, Friday 27 April, to stop compulsory redundancies.
Significantly a lot more teachers came to protest at the school gates compared with the first strike ten days ago.
Whilst still cautious and hesitant about picketing, they were angered by the Head's intimidatory attitude, standing at the school gates with the estates manager taking photographs of them.
Apparently the Head had boasted that on the first day's strike no-one had stopped at the picket line.
Well the school was shut that day and it wasn't a picket line, because NASWUT colleagues are supportive.
But the Head kept the school open today to try to defy the strike, so NUT branch and regional officials did picket, despite the Head's threats of calling the police.
School students asked for leaflets from their striking teachers, I saw one confiscated by the Head. He is seen as a bully who has succeeded in demoralising staff to the point where nearly a third have left in just over a year.
However, NUT members are standing together and growing in determination. As one teacher said: "We've got to win this." As we were leaving, Chris, the school NUT rep said "see you next time". We know there will be a next time!
Please send messages of support to Ralph Dyson (Rotherham NUT joint divisional secretary)
firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 07759853915.
Alistair Tice and Chris Bingham
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 27 April 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.