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GMB Union protestors picket Strood Academy in demonstration against Leigh Academies Trust

By Katie May Nelson

Protestors picketed a school during the first week of the summer exam season.

Members of the GMB Southern Region were seen approaching Strood Academy in Carnation Road this morning in an open top red bus.

The protestors then waved banners outside the school gates, before delivering a petition.

Protestors waving GMB Union banners went to Strood Academy. Picture: Jay Kavanagh (10275465)
Protestors waving GMB Union banners went to Strood Academy. Picture: Jay Kavanagh (10275465)

It is understood that they were protesting the re-structuring of the Halley Academy in Kidbrooke which is part of the Leigh Academies Trust.

Strood Academy is the headquarters of the Leigh Academies Trust, which has 23 schools across Kent and South East London.

The protestors were at the Halley Academy days before the current protest.

Protestors from the GMB Union picketed the Halley School in Kidbrooke (10276777)
Protestors from the GMB Union picketed the Halley School in Kidbrooke (10276777)

Kelly Cooney, whose daughter Daisy attends the school, said: "I am all for peaceful protest but my daughter has struggled to get her grades up to sit her first exam today

"They are nervous and these exams are their whole future, so why do it on the exam days?

"The teachers have also worked hard. My daughter called me it’s the talk of the school and they are supposed to be revising for the next exam this afternoon.

"If it continues we should demand the exam be moved to another day."

Linsey Fleming said: "Totally agree with standing up against what is occurring now within our schools, but not on exam days."

Donna Spicer, GMB Greenwich assistant branch secretary, said: "The support staff at Halley Academy are hard-working, caring, low paid workers in their role to support children with emotional and behavioural needs.

"Helping them access a good education while supporting them with their daily struggle.

"The GMB are here today to support the staff and say we will not allow you to destroy the education of pupils in need and the lives of support staff who work incredibly hard."

GMB's regional organiser Clive Smith said: "The direct funding of education should not be siphoned into high executive pay but should go into directly supporting our future generations.

"The GMB union and GMB members will not sit by and let this disgrace slip through quietly.

"There is still time to reverse this decision and we are calling on Leigh Trust to do just that and protect the future of special needs provision at Halley."

In a statement, the Leigh Academies Trust said: "In protest against a restructuring exercise which we have recently completed, union officials have encouraged their members to take further strike action at The Halley Academy (THA) on Tuesday, May 14.

"This is despite us already making a number of concessions and repeatedly offering further talks to resolve any concerns they have identified.

Protestors outside Strood Academy (10277295)
Protestors outside Strood Academy (10277295)

"To address the current cost pressures we are under, and to stabilise our future, we have made savings wherever possible in other areas but a reduction in support staff numbers has become inevitable.

"Several local unions stand on a national anti-academies political platform. They have encouraged significant disruption for a long time at other Greenwich schools which is causing rising dismay amongst parents concerned by the impact on their children’s future.

"We are very sorry that they now consider it necessary to spread such disruption to our academy.

"The timing of this action is deeply regrettable as year 11 and year 13 students undertake important examinations.

"In fact, the day specifically chosen for a strike is in the first week of formal GCSE examinations for year 11 when our children are most in need of consistency and support.

"Many parents, students and teachers have already expressed understandable anger at the timing of this strike action, especially when so many of our staff and students have worked so hard to achieve success.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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