Final Strike Update!

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open school at all on Thursday 10th July 2014. More staff have now informed me that they will be taking industrial action and we will not have enough staff in school to operate safely.

Therefore, school will be closed on Thursday 10th July 2014.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused

14 Comments

  1. This is very disappointing as, as working parents it gives us very little time to find alternative child care. I emailed the school last week and it’s a big shame that the full extent of how many staff taking strike action had not been ascertained at that point. Both myself and my wife will be taking time off to support the Head Teachers Award’s school trips and another day to cover for this week is very inopportune. Aploogies for the “shoot the messenger” comment.

  2. Hello Jude,

    I am so sorry about this. We tried really hard to ascertain who would and wouldn’t be striking. However, staff are within their rights to make this decision any point up to and including the day of the strike. We did think that we would manage with a partial closure, however, there are so many staff now saying they will strike we do not have enough people to open safely.

    As a working parent, I understand how frustrating this must be. It really is outside my control!

    Best wishes

    Susan

  3. OK – so this is a big U-turn on the text message sent out last Friday and is now giving very little notice for parents to make plans re child care and work commitments. Not good and sadly symptomatic of increasingly poor communication.

    No time allocations are being booked yet for parents’ evening either…? This is just another current communication “gripe”. There’s only one day allocated for this final parents’ evening of the academic year, it would be nice for both of us to attend….so it would also be nice if we could plan accordingly!

    Something isn’t working quite the same way at Heavers this year….it’s hard to put a finger on it. Partly it’s an intangible feeling, partly it’s a decent into a world of “last minute” news and action.

    Is this a knock on effect of the Selsdon alliance? Should we be surprised that the layering of more management roles into the school structure makes us feel more distant from the Heavers heart and ethos? Are the Heavers office staff being placed under too much pressure as a result of these changes?

    I was lucky to speak with one the Governers on their recent day at Heavers. When asked if I had any over-riding concerns I mentioned that it was unfortunate that I had been unable to attend the meetings to discuss the federation proposals. My suggestion that a “wash up” meeting to offer a final chance for parents in a similar situation was well received. My further suggestion that if this was NOT possible then at least distribute a detailed set of minutes to the meetings to keep parents informed was agreed as an essential minimum piece of communication.

    Guess what…..? Deadline for feedback on the federation is Monday at noon….and the minutes to the meetings?? If I’ve missed them somewhere, then many apologies and please point me in the right direction. I’ve tried to find out more myself and this page is particularly helpful http://heaversgovernors.wordpress.com/agenda-and-minutes-of-meetings-2013-2014/

    Heavers Farm you’ve come a LONG way in a short time. My kids are happy there, my wife and I love the school and I’m very proud of it, but something has changed and I’m not convinced it’s for the good of the school, the children, the staff or the parents.

    This post grew to include a lot more than just disgruntlement about the strike U-turn. “Straw that broke the camel’s back” syndrome? Possibly. Not wanting to see the amazing achievements of the previous 3-4 years undone? Definitely.

    PS – please let it be known I support the right of the worker to strike when appropriate and this post is not about those rights or the reasons behind the strike.

  4. Hello Graeme,

    Thank you for your response. I do apologise again for the ‘u turn’. We were trying very hard to keep disruption to a minimum and to keep open as much as the school as possible. However, all union members are completely within their rights to either not inform us, change their minds or not come in on the day. There is very little I can do about this. However, I do understand your frustration.

    The parents evening for the summer term doesn’t usually have booked timings for parents, and we always do this on one evening. This parents evening is more informal, so that parents can collect their child(ren)’s report and speak to the teacher if they wish. It is also an opportunity to take your child(ren) and meet their new teacher. This is an arrangement that has worked well over the past few years which is why we have continued this.

    As for the descent “into a world of last minute…”. We have tried to address this as much as possible by making sure that as many dates as possible were publicised on the school blog before the end of the last academic year. I have just checked and see that I posted this list on the blog on the 10th July 2013. We did this so that parents could plan accordingly for the coming year. I apologise if appears that something significant has changed at Heavers, it is very useful to hear this. I do know that Andrea Cousins, the Head of School, has made every effort to be in and around school. She is outside school every morning and afternoon, and is always available to speak to parents. I will reflect on your feedback and talk to the staff and governors about ways to improve.

    I was not aware of your conversation with a governor about a ‘wash up’ meeting, or the minutes of any meetings. I will speak to the chair of governors and see if we can rectify this right away. However, in the meantime I will forward your feedback to them so that this is included in the formal consultation process.

    Thank you again for taking the time to leave this feedback, it is extremely useful.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  5. Graeme,

    I have posted the minutes from both Federation Consultation meetings on both of the school blogs. I will also ensure that all minutes from the Full Governing Body meetings are posted on the Governor Blog too.

    Apologies for not doing this sooner, and thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  6. I would like to echo my frustrations at this late notice of the strike, by receiving the text on Friday stating which classes were closed I was able to carry on as normal and as such made a number of work commitments for that day believing my son would be in school. I too respect the teachers right to strike but surely when you spoke to you staff last week you should have ascertained a more definite indication of what the situation would be before making any kind of announcement. I am getting increasingly frustrated at the quality of communication from the school to parents, for instance the recent handling of mixing classes has been handled really badly and I am still waiting for an acknowledgment of the email I sent on this matter. We have been extremely pleased with the school but communication needs to be improved.

  7. Hello Gail,

    I do understand your frustration. We made the decision on Friday based on what the staff told us. So, yes we did make a decision based on a definite indication of the situation. I am conscious of the impact of any closure has on our parents, so I was careful to obtain as much information as I could last week.

    However, a number of staff changed their minds this week, which left us in the position where there would be too few staff in school to operate safely. As an employer I need to be extremely careful when it comes to industrial action and our staff are well within their rights to withhold information from me in relation to their intention to strike or not. I apologise again for the considerable disruption this action is causing.

    I am sorry to hear that you haven’t had a response to your email dated 20th June 2014. I contacted Andrea Cousins on the 1st July 2014 and asked her to telephone you and invite you to a meeting. I will email her now to find out why this did not happen and ask her to call you first thing tomorrow morning.

    I am concerned about the comments on here about communication from the school. I had hoped that the introduction of a weekly “News From the School Office”, along with text messages and information on the blogs, would have helped to alleviate this. Clearly this is an area for me to discuss further with the staff so that we can find a more effective way forward.

    Thank you for leaving this feedback and apologies again for the disruption.

    Susan

  8. I support the workers’ right to strike, but as a working parent with no family around to help with childcare and the impossibility to be off work with such a short notice, I would like to suggest that some kind provision would be made in the event of a teachers’ strike, for example that the Games Club opens for the day. I would be more than happy to pay for childcare if it is available in the school. Thank you. Maria

  9. Dear All

    There are a number of comments here about communication with parents.

    Nigel Collins (Vice Chair of Governors) and I (Graham Cluer – Chair of Governors) had a meeting about this earlier today. We appreciate the feedback and will be working with Susan and Andrea next term to see what needs to be done to improve this. Keep in touch!

  10. Thank you Susan for your reply and I am pleased to say that Andrea has indeed now spoken to me and I have already seen that my comments have been taken on board and are being actioned. I hope this continues and would just like to say – you have only one email address for parents to contact the school on so please make sure that it is monitored and parents receive acknowledgement or a reply as this helps us feel that our thoughts and concerns are important to the school and in some cases is the most convenient way for parents to find out more information on certain areas of school life.
    Regards
    Gail

  11. I echo the above comment by Maite. With no family around to help with childcare, and with all our holiday days pre booked through-out the year for school holidays childcare, it would be appreciated if an all-day Games Club could be organised for strike days (or a similar idea). We would be happy to pay. Having to take emergency time off work at such short notice for us parents is just unfair.

    From a parent’s point of view, taking our child out of school for any reason is frowned upon by the school, yet we get saddled with 48hrs notice to organise childcare. Flexibility should work both ways. We think Heaver’s Farm is a fantastic school – please help support us and we will support you.

  12. Hello Steph,

    Thank you for your feedback. We have taken on board the comments here and will try to address them.The strike situation is a tricky one. We are not allowed to insist that staff tell us whether they are striking or not. We asked everyone twice before we made the decision to partially close the school on Friday. Given criticism of parents about closure on previous strike days I was doing my best to keep as much of the school open as possible. However, over the course of this week more and more staff said that they would be now taking industrial action.

    It is clear that this strategy didn’t work. We will approach this differently next time.

    I know that it must seem terribly contradictory to be so insistent that children attend school every day and then to close. Industrial action is something totally out of my control. All union members have the right to strike and we have to respect that.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  13. Hello Gail,

    Very useful feedback. I will give this some more thought and discuss with the staff so that we can find ways to improve home/school communication.

    Best wishes

    Susan

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