Lessons hit as Sheffield teachers strike

General view  of Westfield Sports College, Sothall, 4/11/12
General view of Westfield Sports College, Sothall, 4/11/12
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TEACHING at a Sheffield school is set to be disrupted by six days of strike action in a dispute over working practices.

A spokesman for the National Union of Teachers said 37 members of staff at Westfield Sports College had walked out during the first day of action yesterday.

But Andy Ireland, headteacher, said only 17 out of 80 teachers were missing and pupils experienced as normal a day as was possible. Senior staff had stepped in to teach where necessary.

If talks fail to resolve the issue, further strikes will take place on December 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20.

Ben Morris, Sheffield NUT joint divisional secretary, said there was a ‘climate of fear’ at the Sothall secondary school.

He said there were a number of issues behind the dispute, but the key matter centred on the observation of lessons as part of teachers’ appraisal process.

The school tells teachers which day they will be observed, but not which lesson.

Mr Morris said: “Our guidelines state there should be a maximum of three a year at an agreed time. The college will not agree to tell teachers in advance when the observations will take place and is breaching the guidelines.”

Teachers felt not knowing exactly when the checks would occur was creating unnecessary stress and distracting them from their work in the classroom.

But Mr Ireland said: “It is difficult to understand the reasons why the NUT objects to the level of lesson observations. The governors feel three 25-minute observations a year when the teacher knows which day these will occur in advance is not unreasonable.

“What we don’t want is to observe an exceptional lesson clearly planned a long time in advance - we want a normal snapshot.”

Mr Morris said his members would receive the full support of the union.