Parents have been very active in their committment to our comprehensive ethos and have supported many of our picket lines. They have set up a Facebook group called John Roan Resists and welcome support from parents and the wider community.
Parents letters and comments
Unfortunately, the history of schools being made into a academies is a story of things happening quickly and quietly. When I've spoken to staff at schools which have gone through the same process there is also a softening-up period with threats to people's jobs and misinformation, not at all dissimilar to what we are seeing happening at the John Roan.
9 March 2016
There is always a debate amongst parents about what we think about strike action by teachers and whether we should support such action.
Well I do - I have two sons coming up to their A levels, and I fully support the teachers. They have the best interests of our children and our school at heart. If the governors give the guarantees they are asking for, there will be no need for a strike. If the governors refuse, then I know who I will hold responsible for the strike.
Supporting The NUT strike next week on academisation
The teachers have made this difficult decision in response to the decision made by the Governing Body and Head to "in principle " to become part of a MAT.
The last resort of any teacher is to withdraw their labour, especially at a time like this. But it is the only effective action that they can take in light of the threatened academisation of the school.
Every successful attempt to prevent a school from becoming an academy has involved strike action, this is sadly the only real option teachers have at this point.
To reiterate, the disruption is primarily the result of the behaviour of the Head and Governing Body, who are clearly unconcerned by the disruption to those sitting exams. It they who created this situation and have continued to make the situation worse by then declaring a restructuring process leading to more confusion and discord.
If you feel so strongly about this issue, I would urge you write to the GB and Head asking them to accede to the NUT demands. This now is the only way for the disruption to be avoided.
You may also ask them why they failed to advertise for maternity leave cover until just before these sixth form teachers were due to leave, despite knowing for months in advance. This incompetency disadvantages those sixth formers in this revision period.
Yours Jason Holdway
I am a parent of two at John Roan. I have also been a trade union member all my life. I know that it is impossible to persuade a group of staff (especially 95% of them) to go on strike unless there is a VERY GOOD REASON indeed.
We are all right to worry about our children's education and that is precisely what the teachers are defending and protecting. The move to strike has been the only time the management and the council have begun to take the voice of teachers, parents and students seriously.
I fully support the teachers taking their action, which make cause some short term hardship - but will result in long term gain for all of us.
And I ask again why have the Governors not give a guarantee they will not try and make the school into an academy?
Open letter to the School community from a concerned grandmother
9 March 2016
This time last year, the former Head Des Malone having worked at the school for 8 years along with longstanding staff could confidently claim that The John Roan school had the ethos of a good comprehensive, which treated everyone in the school with respect and enthusiasm. The prevailing atmosphere was one of a happy, productive place to learn. The John Roan had the reputation of being a good comprehensive school, supported by a corps of dedicated teachers and support staff, working with a wide range of students to the best of their abilities.
However, since September 2015 when the new Head Nadine Powrie appeared, I have listened to how she and the Board of Governors have operated and have been both saddened and appalled.
In the space of two weeks of her arrival, Ms Powrie had alienated the majority of teachers, with 7 teachers resigning (and I do not think they were all off to holiday as has been quoted!).
Her proposals for over monitoring what happens in the classroom, how students work is assessed etc. and her refusal to listen to teachers' concerns, forced NUT members to strike in late November. The strike ended in a negotiated settlement where it seemed that teachers protected their working conditions.
This term, however we now hear that Ms Powrie has further undermined the school, with the proposal of 'academy status'; and her latest strategy of announcing a reduction of the posts by 25 and up to 15 redundancies is shocking to say the least. It is this treatment of the school community that has precipitated the decision for teachers to take strike action.
Why do I know so much about a school which is a hundred miles from where I live? Because my daughter is a teacher in the school and two of my grandchildren attend it.
Why am I appalled by what is happening? Because I am an advocate of the comprehensive system, which, if operating well, offers a broad curriculum to a range of abilities, so that all students, whatever their strengths and weaknesses can achieve their potential.
What concerns me? A number of things: despite the rhetoric of the DfE, there is enough evidence to say that 'branding' a school with the new title of 'academy' does not automatically improve standards within the school.
Rather, changing schools into academies is a highly political agenda, and whatever one's political persuasion, the wholesale handing over our education system to private companies is a very dangerous strategy.
And what concerns me the most is the intimidation by the senior management in the school to those members of staff who, for genuine reasons, have voiced concerns about what is happening. I know that those members of staff who have received all sorts of threats, wishing to maintain their professionalism, are reluctant to speak out. But I would like to ask you? What conclusions will you come to? And who will you support?
Support the dedicated staff who get up every day to educate your children and love and care for them 'in loco parentis' or those who wish to forward their own positions and ' kowtow ' to the latest government threats and undermine individuals in the process? What role models do you want your children to experience? And are you happy with the suppression of their voices, when they wish to express concerns about their own futures in the school?
I have just read the school's most recent OFSTED report (November 2013) where the school received a Good grade. And I quote: ' the school has a very effective curriculum designed to meet the needs of students of all abilities and support their spiritual, moral, social and cultural ability.'
How can any leadership justify the removal of those curriculum areas that contribute to those aims?
For example, RE is to be reduced to one off sessions; popular courses like GCSE Psychology are to go; Drama to be down-graded to an 'add on' to English lessons and Film Studies A Level, which my grandson has found so engaging that he wants to continue to Degree level, scrapped. So, a philistine approach is being taken to creative courses, which equip young people to handle their adulthood, with emotional intelligence, and contribute to the cultural and spiritual well- being of society as a whole.
Rather than protecting the school, the leadership seem hell-bent on preempting future Government measures. I, for one, do not support them. I think a vote of no confidence is needed. The school is not in a pair of 'safe hands'.
Former Head of Basic Skills, Birmingham Adult Education Authority