NEU Strike Action on 25 and 27 June 2019
Revoke the academy order and stop the forced academisation of The John Roan
We understand that the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) has imposed the Multi Academy Trust United Learning Trust (ULT) as the sponsor who intends to take over the assets and the running of the school on 31 August 2019. We have produced some information for staff and parents about United Learning. If this goes ahead we will lose one of the oldest state schools (342 years) to an unaccountable private organisation and the John Roan will no longer belong to the community is has served.
As NEU Joint General Secretary Mary Bousted said in The Guardian on 5 May: “Despite the academy programme supposedly being about choice, parents now realise they actually have no say whatsoever in who runs their schools.
“This has led to a great deal of anger resulting in an increased amount of parent-led campaigns against forced academisation. Parents now fully understand that there is no hard evidence that shows putting a school into a multi-academy trust (MAT) will lead to improvements”.
As both teachers and trade unionists that value education, we have considered carefully as to whether and when to take strike action, as we appreciate that it may disrupt you and your children. Our action will not affect the Y10 and Y12 exams that are currently taking place as our responsibilities do not include invigilating exams. However, where there are NEU members who are directly involved with the administration of an exam, we are asking for dispensation by the NEU from the action so that staff can support students in this situation. This is also the case with trips when they have been planned months in advance.
As NEU members, we want to continue to be employed through the Royal Borough of Greenwich and not through a Multi Academy Trust as will happen unless the Secretary of State revokes the Academy Order. If staff are forced to transfer, our conditions will worsen. We have concerns about the impact this will have on our workload, staff morale and staff turnover in the school.
We hope that parents and carers will support our stand. We believe that the best way for improvements to continue to be made at The John Roan is by it staying as a community school, rather than being forced to become part of an academy chain. United Learning (ULT) in correspondence with staff have indicated that they intend to restructure the staffing of the school in September which will lead to post reductions and course cuts.
We believe that this will have an adverse effect on our students' access to the subjects they want to study and that fewer staff will mean that we cannot deliver the quality of provision our students deserve. Our working conditions are the students learning conditions and we fear the impact academisation will have on the curriculum offer too. We have made it clear that we will challenge any attempt to cut the provision for our students at The John Roan.
We never take the decision to strike lightly, but we feel too much is at stake for both our current students and the future of the school to do nothing. We ask that parents join us.
We will be organising our community picket at Maze Hill on Tuesday 25 June and Thursday 27 June from 7.30am until 10am.
We are also supporting the Lobby of Greenwich Council at Woolwich Town hall on 26 June at 6.30pm to protest at their decision to agree to the conversion of John Roan to United Learning Trust.
We will be taking strike action on Tues 25 June to stop the forced academisation of our school. If United Learning takeover, there will be cuts to courses, cuts to teaching staff and larger class sizes across the school. @JohnRoanResists @steveoakes1234 https://t.co/2hzvDbVaJz— thejohnroannut (@thejohnroannut) June 21, 2019
A Message from John Roan Resists - Parent and Community Group
John Roan Resists.
NEU Statement in response to the UST withdrawal
UST BACK OUT OF JOHN ROAN TAKEOVER
Parents and staff at The John Roan School were informed yesterday that the UST (University Schools Trust) had withdrawn from their attempt to forcibly academise the school. In June the UST was named as the DfE’s preferred sponsor on an academy order issued after the school was contentiously rated “inadequate” by OFSTED.
Over the past six months parents and staff have been campaigning against the forced academisation with particular concerns over UST’s financial viability. These fears were confirmed yesterday when UST’s CEO, Grahame Price wrote in a letter to parents that the trust’s “resources alone will not be enough to address the challenges that the school faces.”
Anni Harrison, a parent and spokesperson for John Roan Resists, said in response to the news “What the community of parents and carers have achieved today in resisting academisation is hugely significant. We have seen off the UST through our own research and due diligence. What we need now is a united parental and community stance against any new sponsor."
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests conducted by parents have revealed that the USTs ‘flagship’ school Saint Pauls Way Trust (SPWT) has experienced high staff turnover of 21% year on year. Recently parents from the SPWT primary school contacted John Roan parents with their concerns about the safeguarding of their children and stonewalling by the UST when they made complaints. These complaints have been raised with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) in Tower Hamlets and are on-going.
In addition further research uncovered articles, dating back to Grahame Price’s Headship at Wilmington Enterprise College in December 2008, revealed that Grahame Price had left the school under a ‘cloud’ and a few months later the school was plunged into special measures, closed and then academised the following year.
Kirstie Paton, NEU co-rep at The John Roan School explained, “We are relieved that the UST has finally agreed to withdraw. We remain implacably opposed to this forced academisation. The whole academisation process has been extremely disruptive to our school where considerable amounts of public money have been frittered away on consultants who have had very little impact on those that count – our students.”
Greenwich NEU Secretary, Tim Woodcock, responded to a letter from Dominic Herrington, Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), by adding “The RSC has stated that the DfE are now looking for a new sponsor. We will continue to lobby both Dominic Herrington and Damian Hinds (Secretary of State) to listen to parents and rethink this proposal. We are now part of a growing number of schools nationally that will continue to challenge the rationale that academies deliver a better education compared to LAs. We believe that The John Roan and other schools like us are better placed in the family of LA schools rather than forcing unaccountable MATs (Multi-Academy Trusts) on communities that don’t want them. This will only serve to disrupt the education of our students.”
NEU Teachers support their GMB Colleagues... Watch HERE
The GMB at The John Roan have called the strike days this week on 11,12,13 December. The reason for this is because the financial mismanagement of the school has led to projected in-year deficit of approx £674K. This has swallowed up all of our reserves of £648K and left the school in an overall deficit. From a tentative look at the budget which we received having made a FOI request, over £989K has been spent on 'bought in professional services' (consultants fees) since April 2017. Over £551K has been spent and £438k committed on 'bought in professional services-curriculum' (consultants) - giving a total of £989K. This essentially has led to the deficit. The NEU think this is a grossly irresponsible use of public money. The UST and other consultants have siphoned off just under a million pounds and we are not convinced this has had a positive impact for our students. On top of this the UST would demand a top slice of 5% of our budget which would mean at least another £500K being sucked out of the school every year. Bare also in mind, that as an Academy, this information on how budgets are spent will be harder to access.
Because of this deficit staff (most likely support staff in the first phase but possibly teachers as well) are looking at losing their jobs. We are extremely concerned that in the planned transfer of employment to the UST, the restructure will lead to cuts to essential provision and seriously effect staffing and therefore the quality of education that our students receive. Many teachers in the NEU have decided, in support of our colleagues threatened with job losses, to stand by them this week and to respect the picket line. We cannot afford to lose staff and we are requesting that the Local authority support the school financially to avoid cuts and that we withdraw any further financial commitments with the UST and other consultants. We believe there is enough expertise in the school with LA support to move forward. It is our view that the UST will damage our school should they take over and therefore we demand they withdraw as sponsors with immediate effect.
When we have analysed the implications of the deficit fully, as well as other information we have received recently about the UST's conduct in their other schools, we will do our best to communicate this information to staff and parents.
Strikes are disruptive, but we believe the short term disruption is much less compared to students losing out on TA support, a growing use of agency staff and supply, cutting staff so that classes become larger, increasing workload so staff go long term sick due to ill health, cutting courses that aren't seen as valuable because they aren't included in Progress 8 (a very crude and disputed statistic measuring progress in 8 GCSE subjects based on the EBacc, English, Maths, Science, MFL and Humanities) , off rolling children so that they don't appear in statistics: the list goes on.
We hope that those of us who are actively resisting the takeover of our school by the UST can have an impact. It's true that we may not succeed. But if we do nothing then we definitely won't. Too much is at stake for the future of our school to remain silent whilst this threat hangs over us. We believe that without the disruption of the UST's planned cuts, the school can make the improvements we all want. We will be writing to the Governors and the LA to ask that they join us in our request for the UST to withdraw.
Grahame Price and the UST are not fit to run our school and we deserve better.
Check out the News page to get latest developments, including the recent DISBANDING OF THE GOVERNING BODY!!! HERE
GMB strike makes ITV London News!
JR NEU hold silent protest
GMB take Action
John Roan GMB members voted unanimously for strike action on Thursday 29th November. UST's refusal to assure the members that their terms and conditions will stay the same, that no redundancies will take place and that they would sign up to union recognition has pushed them to take this action.
Parents and Teachers fight gets National Coverage!!!!
Sherington School Staff say no!
Legal Challenge to Ofsted could halt academy process
Parents have raised over £2000 for their legal campaign. They have agreed to support the staff legal challenge that is being instigated by the NEU as the most likely route to successfully halting the academisation process.
NEU Message to Parents June 2018
NEU PRESS RELEASE
Why we are saying NO to the Academisation of JR
The John Roan School was issued with an Academy Order on the 12th June. The staff received a letter the very next day from University Schools Trust stating that the Regional Schools Commisioner had nominated them to be the preferred sponsor. The letter went on to say that the Governing Body had voted on the 11th June (before the Academy Order had been issued) to accept the UST as a sponsor and that the John Roan Foundation had also written to the UST in support of their sponsorship, subject to their due deligence checks.
The JR NEU are concerned on many fronts with these developments. The speed and lack of transparency of these actions by both the Governing Body and the Foundation do a disservice to the students, staff, parents and local community to which the John Roan School and assets were put in trust for. Parents were not given any voice in this process and there seems no willingness to work with the LA and in collaboration with organisations such as the UST instead of handing over community assets on a 125 year lease. What were the arguments given at any Governing Body meeting on this issue. Can staff and the wider community get access to the minutes of this June 11th meeting? Was the decisions by the GB and the Foundation unanimous and can the Foundation hand over the assets it is entrusted to keep within community hands to a private company without ANY consulation with the local community?
The letter to parents on the school website makes no mention of the MAT University Schools Trust. When are parents to be informed of this decision?
We urge any concerned staff or parents to contact the Regional Schools Commissioner, Dominic Herrington, and register their concern regarding the speed and opaque manner at which this change in the management structure is taking place. Please consider emailing him in regards to this and requesting that he still considers giving the new head teacher time to work with the LA on a school improvement plan. His contact details are email@example.com.
The role of the John Roan Foundation trustees are also crucial here. John Roan bequeated his estate in trust to educate Greenwich children in 1644 and the JR Foundation still manages the income from this trust. Assets include several properties in Greenwich, the John Roan Maze Hill school site, and the John Roan Playing Fields. There are questions to be answered on why the Foundation trustees agreed to hand over these assets to the UST without any attempt to reach out to the wider school community for consulation.
More information about the role of the foundation and the trustees can be found on the School website here... , though sadly no indication of what role each member plays on the trustee board or contact details are given. Members include members of staff, parents and ex governors. If you wish to contact the Foundation please email Linda Nelson or Chris Strong via their role as Foundation Governors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not only does the JR Foundation manage considerable financial assets but they also could be instrumental in leading the way towards a full and open consulation on the future of the school. We urge all concerned staff and parents to contact them so that they can clarify their position and explain why they voted to hand over the Maze Hill site and playing fields in such a speedy and non-transparent manner.
More information on the Governing Body itself can be found on the school website here. Please contact them if you have any questions about why they have not held a parental consulation on the issue of Academisation.
The John Roan NEU are totally opposed to academisation - it is failed system. There is no evidence that academies improve outcomes for students but there is now overwhelming evidence that conditions for staff worsen and financial mismanagement and corruption is rife. More and more MATs are unravelling and leaving it up to Local Authorities to take back control of schools or the Regional Commisioners to find other sponsors. Schools and pupils are left in limbo and public funding is wasted on this cycle of uncertaintly and inefficiency. It is the growing privatisation of our schools that is causing havoc and has led to a major teacher recruitment crisis as teachers leave in droves due to excessive workload and stress at work. Please read more about the growing concern regarding the Academy Project and case studies of recent failed academy projects here.
NEU members at the John Roan have balloted over the threat of academisation and transfer of employer to the MAT. On a turnout of 64% (postal ballot) 94% of members voted yes to strike action if necessary. We are determined to build a community campaign to stop the asset stripping of our school and defend our comprehensive, community ethos where children come first. We urge the leadership and governors of the school to engage fully with staff, parents, the local authority and the local community in the coming weeks and show a standard of transparency in their actions following the outcome of the Ofsted Report. We ask that the Governors convene a public meeting on the future of our community local authority school ASAP. In the interm staff have worked with parents and accepted an invitation to a parents forum meeting on the 12th June. Here all parents present were unanimously opposed to Academisation. Strike action is always a last resort - we wish to work with management, our new Head teacher, the governing body, the Foundation and the LA to move the school forward. The NEU is meeting with David Gardner this week (b/e 11th June) who is the Cabinet member for Children's Services and Schools at Greenwich Council with this purpose in mind.
NEU concerns with the Ofsted Inspection
Complaint about the Inspection that took place at The John Roan School, Westcombe Park Road London SE3 7QR on 21 and 22 March 2018.
Lead inspector: Joan McVittie
We have received a number of complaints from staff about the Conduct of the Lead Inspector and aspects of the inspection process. I am the NEU representative and will be lodging this complaint on behalf of the members of the NEU who have contacted me during and after the inspection.
In Ofsted’s own advice on safeguarding it states; “avoid interrupting, asking leading questions or probing for more information than the child or young person wants to give you.” Clearly this guidance was not followed.
Unprofessional Conduct and use of leading questions in gathering information in staff interviews by the Lead inspector
So far, the following concerns have been raised:
Several staff have reported that they were unhappy about the conversations they had with the Lead inspector about the progress data and other information shared with the inspector on learning walks and observations. One member of staff reported that in a discussion about the progress of her Y13 Sociology class, she was told; “So only 50% are making progress”, even when the teacher corrected the inspector that it was in fact 80% that were meeting and exceeding their targets and showed her the evidence. She left the conversation not being sure what had been recorded on her record sheets.
In one instance, the inspector declined to speak to students which the teacher felt showed a lack of interest in what the students were doing. He also noted that a teacher folder that the inspector looked at was left by the inspector in the classroom and not handed back to the teacher in charge. This has sensitive information about students and should have been treated with more care. [Appendix 3 – Conduct of Inspectors during observations, Item 1]
Staff are now concerned that the validity and reliability of the judgements being made during the inspection are questionable and not based on evidence.
Issues relating to judgements of lessons and feedback to teachers who were observed
An English teacher has reported that she asked for feedback from an Inspector after an observation and refused. When she complained to a member of the SLT who had taken part in the inspection alongside the inspector, the member of SLT said that the inspector reported that she had not seen evidence of differentiation in the lesson. The member of staff has evidence that the work was differentiated for the students and therefore feels that any judgement made on the teaching and learning that took place during this observation was based on a very subjective judgement. [Appendix 3 – Conduct of Inspectors during observations Item 2]
Issues relating the composition of the Inspector Team
Some staff have raised their concerns about whether the composition of the Inspection team in terms of whether they “…have the right range of experience to fully appreciate the work that takes place at JR. [Appendix 4 – Composition of the Inspection Team]
The Nolan Principles published by the Committee of Public Standards in Public Life (1995) sets out the principles that should govern the conduct of those in public office. We have serious concerns that the Lead Inspector has not followed these principles in carrying out the work as Lead Inspector. We would like to raise serious concerns that evidence gathered during the inspection process lacked objectivity, integrity, honesty and accountability and that the judgement about The John Roan is therefore based on flawed information and conjecture.
The use of leading questions in interviews of children by schools and other organisations is not permissible and is mentioned explicitly in guidance as something that should not happen. (Ofsted Safeguarding policy).
In point 16 of the Common Inspection Framework: education, skills and early years, it says: “Inspectors must uphold the highest professional standards in their work and treat everyone they encounter during inspections fairly and with respect and sensitivity.”
We feel that this was not the case. We request that our complaints are fully investigated. Because we are currently on holiday, we will be sending more evidence when we return to work and have to opportunity to speak to the staff properly.
Kirstie Paton and Jane Simms – NEU reps at The John Roan
Greenwich MP has raised concerns...
Matthew Pennycock MP has received an answer to his Parliamentary Question on when the Ofsted Report for the John Roan will be published. Amanda Spielman of Ofsted has confirmed that a draft of the report is currently with the School Management and that depending on the extent of the comments made by the school the report will be published in early June, after the half - term holidays.
In regards to this clarification the John Roan NEU would like to ask the Governing Body whether staff and parents will be consulted on any comments that are given back as feedback to the Ofsted Inspectors and what guarantees the Governing Body can give that all avenues of co-operating with the Local Authority will be looked at.
Mr Pennycock has written to Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education to ask him to consider giving the school time to work with the Local Authority and partner institutions in developing a school improvement plan.
Greenwich Council's Director of Children's Services has also pledged Council support against any plans to forcibly academise the John Roan.
Read more under News & Events.
Greenwich NEU response the threat of academisation at
John Roan NEU Briefing to Staff and Parents
Sign and Share our Petition to oppose any plans to Academise the John Roan
Governors Letter to Parents 4th May 2018
Questions for the Governors:
In light of this letter sent to parents and the one received by staff (see below) will the Governing Body (GB) provide answers to the following questions:
1. Regarding the School Improvement Plan - can the GB confirm when they met with the Local Authority to discuss moving forward?
2. If the Ofsted Grading is Inadequate can the GB confirm if they will still work with the LA to secure time for the school to work on improving and oppose any move to forcibly academise the JR? Especially in light of the growing success of schools across the country in fighting academisation, and the commitment of the Greenwich Director of Children's services and Mr Pennycock MP to put working with the school over an automatic acceptance of an Academy Order.
3. Can the GB confirm that they will create a space for ALL STAKEHOLDERS to come together to discuss the future of the school? This could come in the form of a public meeting open to Parents AND Staff for a date shortly after the publication of the Ofsted Report.
Governors Letter to Staff
4. Could the GB confirm what the 'scrutiny process' of the Ofsted Report referred to in the letter to staff entails? Are parents and staff involved? Will the details of the process be made publically available after the publication of the Report? Can parents and staff request to be part of this scrutiny process?
5. In light of the concerns put forward by staff about the Ofsted inspection itself, can the GB be transparent about their decision that these concerns are not grounds to challenge the inspection process?
6. Will the GB be publishing the minutes of GB meetings on the School Website, especially all those with relevance to the Ofsted Report and the future of the school - or giving information to staff and parents on how they can access minutes of GB meetings?
7. In their letter to staff the GB give no mention of any moves to work with the LA, but rather lists exclusively information about their consultation with a MAT. Yet in their letter to parents there is still a clear message that the GB is also looking at working with the LA on school improvement. Can the GB explain this descrepancy in the information they are giving to different stakeholders?
For some information on the current pattern of Senior management renumeration within the UST see The John Roan NEU briefing document above (page 5).
For a brief overview of the corporate structure behind the University Schools Trust (UST) see T Rawnsleys letter in Parents for John Roan.
All 63 of Greenwich Schools are facing cuts to funding.
For more information or questions contact : email@example.com
You can also contact a PARENT LED campaign group against this defunding of schools at:
Parents from Avenue School win in the High Court to suspend an academy order at their school
Parents and teachers at Avenue School have been battling to stop the academisation of their community primary school.
The Academy programme is a failed system. It does nothing to support our children in education. Money leaves to classroom and ended up in inflated salaries of CEOs.
We send our support to the NEU in Newham and the Avenue Parents who are showing why we have to stand up and challenge this privatisation programme.
For more information visit their facebook group Avenue Parents Group.
Come and have your voice heard regarding changes to local schools and how parents and staff are opposing plans to Academise their schools... here
Want to connect with other Parents?
John Roan parents have set up a parent led group open to the school community called John Roan Resists
You can email them at:
firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet at @JohnRoanResists