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Teachers at Wellsway School strike

Wellsway School in Keynsham Credit: ITV News

Teachers at Wellsway School in Keynsham are striking today.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, NASUWT, are protesting about workload. The strikes are the first of six days of planned action by the union.

The school has been in negotiation with both unions, but despite reaching an agreement with the National Union of Teachers didn't do so with the NASUWT.

In that letter, Andrea Arlidge, headteacher of the school, and head of school Simon White said the dispute was over "measures that we had taken to help improve the quality of teaching that your children receive".

Ms Arlidge and Mr White said the NASUWT was especially concerned over the "additional work" it felt these steps would involve.

I regret that the NASUWT has decided to take industrial action on Wednesday 11th March, but welcome the decision of the NUT not to do so. We have worked hard to meet staff concerns about workload whilst ensuring we continue to work towards the improvements we believe are vital to Wellsway's continuing success.

– Andrea Arlidge, Headteacher

The strike action is completely avoidable. The NASUWT has made every effort to secure an agreed way forward through genuine negotiation, but the employer has failed to effectively address the serious concerns of members.

The teachers at Wellsway are all dedicated and committed members of staff, who have no wish to cause disruption to pupils or to parents, but in the face of the employer’s intransigence have been left with no choice but to protest in this way.

– Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT

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The NUT responds to Cameron's free schools

The NUT maintains that the free school policy has diverted funds into a small number of schools and prevented Local Authorities opening schools where most needed. Free Schools do not raise standards. What does is teaching.

Supporting teachers in developing their classroom practice through high quality CPD and more time to teach, rather than meet arbitrary Government targets, should be the aim of any Government, not introducing market forces into education.

– Lisa Middle, Secretary of Bristol Division NUT

Labour slams Government's decision to open more free schools

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has slammed David Cameron's decision to open more free schools across the country.

The Labour minister says it was the "wrong policy, at the wrong time, in the wrong place", and was putting money into areas it was not needed. He claims the money could have been spent better in reducing class sizes and raising teaching standards.

Full list of South West free schools

  • The Great Western Academy, Swindon - will have a business and enterprise curriculum model.
  • The Swindon Church of England Secondary School - the city's first Church of England school, being provided by the Diocese of Bristol.
  • Bristol Autism Free School - Bristol’s first all-through provision for students with autistic spectrum conditions. It will replace and expand on a small autism unit at the successful Merchants Academy.
  • The Digital Primary Academy in Exeter - will be opened by the same trust that runs the Broadclyst Primary Academy. It is the only UK primary school recognised as a Microsoft Mentor School and part of the Microsoft Global Challenge.
  • Kingsteignton School in Devon - will be run by the federation that runs nearby St Michael’s Church of England Primary School.
  • Stoke Damerel Healthcare Professional Studio School in Plymouth - will specialise in healthcare, and is sponsored by Stoke Damerel Community College, with partners including Plymouth NHS Trust, Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry and Plymouth University.
The schools are all expected to open in 2016 Credit: ITV News

Six new free schools announced for the South West

The Government has today said six new free schools will open in the South West - part of 49 being announced nationwide.

Two will open in Swindon, while one is also planned for Bristol.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Reform Minister, will be in the Swindon this morning to outline plans for the Great Western Academy and the Swindon Church of England Secondary School.

Three new free schools have been announced for Swindon Credit: PA

Today's announcement, the final wave of free schools to be approved before the election, brings the total number of open and approved free schools to more than 400. It has created around 230,000 new school places.

The Government claims 72 per cent of free school heads say they are having a positive impact on schools in their local area – driving up standards and ensuring more parents have a great school in their neighbourhood.

Over 40,000 pupils are already attending free schools, with more than two-thirds rated good or outstanding. 72 per cent are located in areas with a shortage of places.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan Credit: PA

Today’s announcement sends a clear sign that children for generations to come will be able to benefit from a place in a free school. With already more than two-thirds being rated good or outstanding, today’s news will reassure parents that standards will continue to rise.

– Nicky Morgan

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Paralympic Champion Ellie Simmonds visits Bath University

The swimmer has an honorary degree from Bath University

Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds will be at the University of Bath's sports training village today.

She's an honorary member of the university, and will be holding a master-class promoting an inclusive volunteering scheme for young people, both disabled and non-disabled.

It's part of an event launching the results of research into how volunteering for disabled people can boost social skills and increase confidence.

South West schools to benefit from £140 million building programe

17 more schools in the South West will benefit from a £140 million school building programme, according to the government.

The fund will let schools rebuild or refurbish classrooms and other facilities. It should lead to better, brighter and warmer learning environments.

Brentry Primary School in Bristol is among those that will benefit.

Announcing the details of the investment, the Deputy Prime Minister said the improvements will help give every child a fair start in life.

Children can't learn and teachers can't teach in schools that are cold and have leaking roofs.

To create a stronger economy we have to invest in a fairer society so that our young people can be successful in the future.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

Bristol school axes 10% of its staff

22 staff at Brislington Enterprise College have been made redundant as it becomes an academy this weekend Credit: ITV News

Parents of children at one of the region's largest secondary schools are outraged at a decision to axe 22 members of staff.

We've got pupils in the school sitting GCSEs. Are they going to have extra support who needs it? Not just our children but every child that attends this school.

– lynn clements, parent

The redundancies come as Brislington Enterprise College in Bristol converts from local authority control to academy status this weekend. Its new principal says she must cut costs, but there are concerns about the impact on pupils.

The head, who is also the regional director for Oasis, told me the school has been failing its pupils for years.

We had a structure which was complex and wasn't serving the needs of children already.

I inherited a school where the financial position was very troubled and it needed to be addressed regardless of who was responsible for the children within the college.

– rebecca clark, Executive Principal, Brislington Enterprise College
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