South Yorkshire teachers vote for strike

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TEACHERS at a South Yorkshire comprehensive are set to go on strike from Tuesday in a dispute over eight job losses.

Senior staff at Swinton Comprehensive School, Rotherham, say posts must be cut to tackle a budget deficit and cope with falling numbers of pupils.

Headteacher David Pridding insists there is no need for compulsory redundancies and said consultations had been continuing with staff since January.

But in a ballot carried out among members of the National Union of Teachers 93 per cent voted in favour of strike action.

Joint NUT divisional secretary for Rotherham Paul Colley said a deficit of £712,000 had been identified at Swinton over two years ago following an audit which had revealed significant weaknesses in its financial management.

“The deficit increased to over £800,000 by 2010-11 and governors reported that work was going on between the council and the school to implement a robust recovery plan and improve budgetary control,” he said.

“But this January the school announced this plan included a staff restructure which had the potential for eight teachers to lose their jobs.”

Mr Colley said the union was still willing to reach a negotiated settlement.

“But we are not prepared to sit idly by and see any of our members face compulsory redundancy as a direct result of weak financial planning and monitoring at the school,” he added.

Mr Pridding said the number of students was falling across Rotherham secondary schools and Swinton had been significantly affected.

“In 2008 there were 1,039 students in the school and in September of this year we are expecting to have 876 students. A loss of 163 students is the equivalent of losing £815,000 income,” he said.

“Obviously a school with fewer students needs fewer teachers. In January, we began a consultation process with staff and trade unions regarding a restructure which had the potential for eight teachers to lose their jobs.”

Mr Pridding said voluntary redundancies and allowing staff to work part time and moving staff between departments had removed the need for compulsory job losses.

He added they were saddened by the NUT’s actions.