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Teachers at Aspire Academy in Harlow to vote on strike action

Aspire Academy in Harlow Photo: Facebook

Staff at Aspire Academy in Harlow will vote on industrial action over concerns for their health and safety, it has been announced this morning.

The school for students outside mainstream education is part of the TBAP multi-academy trust, and was the subject of a BBC Panorama investigation in March after the head teacher blew the whistle on serious financial trouble.

Earlier this month, students in years 7, 8 and 9 were sent home because of unsafe staffing levels.

UNISON, which represents support staff at Aspire, says it has been raising concerns about the finances and staffing levels since early 2018, shortly after TBAP took over the school.

They say that many staff, including the head teacher, are off sick because of the problems at the school.

Support staff have already supported industrial action in a recent consultative ballot.

UNISON Eastern regional manager Tim Roberts said:

Staff at Aspire are going over and above the call of duty trying to keep their school running so that children who haven't been able to manage in mainstream education can still get the education they need. "But they're being stretched to breaking point by the trust's mismanagement and many staff just can't cope with coming into work anymore."

– Tim Roberts, UNISON Eastern regional manager

"It's hard to see how the school can continue to operate in this environment. TBAP must act quickly to get a grip on the increasingly unsafe situation it's created at Aspire or deal with the consequences."

The ballot on industrial action will close in June.

In 2018 TBAP, the multi academy trust that Aspire Academy is part of, was issued with a financial notice to improve by the Education and Schools Funding Agency.

A spokesperson for the TBAP Multi Academy Trust said in a statement: "The TBAP Multi Academy Trust provides proven, outstanding alternative education and intervention for the most vulnerable learners in our society.

The Trust is aware of the possibility of industrial action at Aspire Academy. Regular meetings with union representatives are taking place with a view to resolving the issues that have been raised.

The Trust adheres to the very highest standards in maintaining a safe environment for all."

Resources are being reinforced as a matter of urgency at the school and additional senior support is being provided by other TBAP schools. The Trust has transformed the lives of over 4000 young people through the provision of high quality alternative education."

– Spokesperson for the TBAP Multi Academy Trust