Hopes are high a teachers strike at a Kent school 'unsafe for staff' could end soon

  • Watch Tony Green's video report

Hopes are high that the teachers' strike on the Isle of Sheppey may soon be resolved. Members of the National Education Union first walked out last week.

They are demanding action following threats of violence from pupils - which they say makes the school unsafe for staff and unsafe for other children.

Teachers say they want tougher penalties for pupils that are abusive. A situation they say stems from funding cuts and challenging behaviour.

Today they staged their third walkout outside Oasis Academy in two weeks.

"We've had violence, we've had vandalism. We've even had death threats towards staff," union member Austen Waite said.

"Which means this workplace is currently unsafe and it's unfit for us to be at work. That's why we are making a stand.

"What we've got here is a severe lack of funding and under-resourcing, not just from Oasis Community Learning but also top down from the Government.

"Students aren't getting the education they deserve."

  • "When we took on this academy it was failing" - Steve Chalk

Rev Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Foundation which runs Oasis Academy in Sheppey, says it has been fighting for extra funding for the school for almost a decade.

"There are serious issues that we're always seeking to address," he added.

Staff at the school are calling for ten-day fixed exclusions for pupils who threaten or assault staff or pupils after a number of incidents of threats and violence.

It is understood demands have been met over workload and a promised bonus payment in negotiations between the union and the trust, but deteriorating behaviour is still being resolved.

  • "It's a fault of the system... a societal issue" - Steve Chalk

A Oasis Community Learning Trust spokesperson said: "Whilst this is a scenario that nobody wants, we have had positive discussions with the union, and we are confident that we have made significant progress.

"We remain committed to working positively with staff representatives to try and avoid any future disruption, and to ensure that Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey is a school where everybody can thrive."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Councils are responsible for making sure there is appropriate education for all children in their area.

"The Government's SEND and AP Improvement Plan outlines how the government plans to ensure children with special needs and disabilities receive the support they need, with earlier intervention, consistent high standards and less bureaucracy.

"A new SEND free school will open on the Isle of Sheppey next year, and there’s an ongoing consultation to expand Leigh Academies Trust’s Snowfields Academy onto the Isle of Sheppey from September 2024."

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