TEACHERS at St. Gregory’s Catholic School will be holding a ballot on taking strike action this week following an assault ‘of a serious nature’ on a member of staff by a pupil.
Members of the NUT believe the pupil in question should be expelled and accuse the school of ‘failing its duty’ to protect staff.
The mixed school on Reynolds Lane, Tunbridge Wells, is responsible for the education of more than 1,000 pupils aged between 11 and 18 and is rated ‘outstanding’ in its latest Ofsted report. It is also part of a multi-academy trust, the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership (KCSP).
Details of the incident and the age of the pupil have not been disclosed, and there is a discrepancy as to when the incident took place, with the union claiming it occurred ‘two weeks ago’, while the school states it was December 16.
In addition to balloting for a formal strike, the union is also set to hold a ‘formal and lawful’ ballot on a refusal to teach the individual pupil in question. The West Kent NUT say they have contacted their National Executive Committee, the union’s overall governing body, about proceeding with the ballots ‘in the absence of an assurance from the school and KCSP.’
In a statement released yesterday (Tuesday) to the Times the union said it will also be holding a meeting this week with the KCSP in order to seek a resolution to the matter.
A spokesman added: “The NUT are extremely concerned that the school and academy trust are failing to protect teachers and children from the student in question by allowing them to remain in school.
“Physical assaults against teachers and children are not acceptable and our members and pupils have a right to feel safe in school. By failing to remove the student from the School, the employer is failing in its duty to uphold proper standards of behaviour and the safety of staff and other students.”
He added the union hopes industrial action can be avoided and if it goes ahead it will only affect the teaching at St. Gregory’s Catholic School and not be backed up with action elsewhere.
However, the school played down the seriousness of the incident in question and saying it was the result of pre-Christmas ‘high spirits’.
A spokesman said: “An incident was reported on 16 December when some students were in high spirits looking forward to the Christmas holiday.
“This has since been investigated and the school’s behaviour policy and exclusion procedures have been followed. We are mindful of our responsibility to continue to provide education for the student involved and we are considering a variety of options available that best supports the student and our staff.”
There are five different unions representing staff at the school. Of these 24 staff members are associated with the NUT at the school, while a further 22 are affiliated with the NASUWT teacher’s union. There is no suggestion other unions will be taking part.