Teachers are set to continue striking over safety fears at a troubled secondary school despite meetings with the academy’s boss.
National Education Union (NEU) staff at Oasis Academy on the Isle of Sheppey are poised to take to the picket lines once again next week in a row over pupil behaviour and violence.
Around 80 teachers and staff members went on strike on Friday, November 22 forcing both its Minster and Sheerness campuses to close.
They continued to withhold their labour on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
A NEU spokeswoman has told KentOnline an update will provided on Monday (December 4) which means at present more “action will go ahead” from Tuesday and will continue onto Wednesday and Thursday.
Union members were expected to vote on the latest proposals from Oasis management yesterday with a result being available “on whether action continues” next week by 12pm today.
Oasis Academy Trust chief executive Steve Chalke addressed staff at the union meeting held yesterday afternoon (November 30).
It followed a damning Ofsted report last summer which said “too many pupils feel unsafe at this school”.
Yesterday, in an interview with KentOnline, Mr Chalke admitted failures on his and the Trust’s part, explaining their two campuses on the Island were the hardest to run out of all their sites.
Education on the Island is now set for a major revamp with the academy set to be split into two separate schools and run by different trusts.
However, Mr Chalke thinks these problems will not simply just disappear when someone new takes over their reins unless more investment comes into the Island.
He said: “The poverty on Sheppey is immense so it was the toughest to run. It has been and will continue to be really hard for whoever runs the school without more investment.
“There are children who need extra tuition, extra help, extra input and bespoke care. Someone to be with them as they kick off and not give up on them but that means having more resources.
Strike action of this kind is unprecedented in the county. And one former education expert based in the county says if an alternative solution can’t be found to behaviour issues security guards might be needed.
One teacher, called Lisa, told KentOnline staff face daily abuse including racial slurs and threats of violence, whereby a student threatened to cut her throat.
“We’ve had enough,” she said. “We are collectively striking because there have been too many incidents of violence against staff and threats of violence against staff and the school has had about 18 months to sort this out.
“Members of staff are off with stress because they’ve been physically assaulted. We have the n-word used on a regular basis to our black teachers.
“We have chairs thrown. I myself have been threatened with death on numerous occasions.
“A particular student told me he was going to cut my throat. Teachers have been pushed and shoved.”
Teachers have been calling for fixed exclusion tariffs of 10 days for assaults or threats of assaults against staff and pupils following numerous incidences of pupil threats and violence.
The NEU says there were disputes over workload and a promised bonus payment, which were largely addressed during negotiations.
It is unknown whether there are any further days of strike action planned by NEU members.