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NUT suspends strike action at Blue Coat school

11 September 2015

BLUE COAT SCHOOL & MUSIC COLLEGE

Prayer: pupils at Coventry's Blue Coat school

Prayer: pupils at Coventry's Blue Coat school

MEMBERS of the National Union of Teachers at the Blue Coat C of E School and Music College, Coventry — an award-winning academy — who took part in strike action last week over disputed management policies, suspended a second strike that had been planned for yesterday.

The joint secretary of Coventry NUT, Jane Nellist, said that they took their decision on Tuesday, after new proposals were put forward for discussion.

The first strike, on Thursday of last week, only three days after the beginning of the new term, involved 22 NUT members employed at the school. The union argues that policies covering teachers’ performance and capability, and disciplinary and grievance procedures, were introduced under the previous head teacher without adequate consultation.

Matthew Connor-Hemming, the assistant head teacher at Blue Coat, which employs 100 teachers, said that no other unions were involved in the strike action, and all classes had been covered. There were "ongoing talks" about staffing policies, and the establishment of a negotiating committee representing all unions, he said.

A school statement said that the current dispute was unrelated to serious financial problems faced by Blue Coat earlier this year, when the school was found to have overspent its budget by £1.25 million. One of the top schools in Coventry, it has won national awards for achievement and pupils’ progress.

In 2011, it became an academy, setting its own staff pay and disciplinary arrangements. But, after the shortfall emerged in March, the governing body was replaced by an interim board; and an interim head teacher, Francis Peacock, succeeded the former head, Dr Julie Roberts. In July, church inspectors rated the school’s Christian ethos as outstanding.

Coventry diocese’s director of education, Linda Wainscot, said that Blue Coat was a good school that had the full support of the diocesan board of education. "Under the interim arrangements, the school is successfully overcoming its earlier difficulties," she said.

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