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'Bullying' allegations prompt teachers to walk out of Plymouth school on strike

Teachers went on strike at the ACE school in Plymouth today. Photo: ITV News

Teachers at a Plymouth school for vulnerable children went on strike today in a dispute with senior management.

Union bosses claim staff are being 'bullied' and not treated well enough - and have warned more walkouts could follow.

But the school, which is run by a group of trustees and outside of local authority control, says it is committed to working constructively to find a way forward.

Union bosses say their members have been 'pushed too far'. Credit: ITV News

Teachers never take strike action easily, but in this case our members have been pushed way too far. They have raised their concerns and these are not being addressed by the trustees, so now our members have taken action. All of our members who work with children with challenging behaviours deserve to be able to focus on getting the best opportunities for those young people. Parents should actually feel reassured that teachers are willing to take strike action. Our members are not just doing this on their behalf, they're doing it on the behalf of all the young people who are passing through the ACE trust.

– Michelle Codrington-Rogers, NASUWT union
The school was closed as teachers joined a picket line. Credit: ITV News

ACE is a free school, part of an academy trust for youngsters who have been excluded from mainstream education.

Parents also joined the picket line to show their support. Mum Katy says the school turned her son's life around.

Mum Katy says the teachers changed her son's life. Credit: ITV News

He started at ACE very young, very vulnerable, very scared, and he left with fantastic grades and he's just got an award at college and distinctions across the board. I've never seen a team of teachers work so hard to support the most vulnerable kids we have in this city and that's what we have to remember, these kids are really really vulnerable and they need the staff like we have here to get them on their way.

– Katy Cave

Along with claims of bullying, teachers also say they are not being treated with dignity or consulted over changes to working patterns.

Last month the CEO of the academy trust was suspended pending an investigation, but the reasons have not yet been revealed.

Teachers claim they are not being treated with dignity. Credit: ITV News

We want our staff to be highly-valued members who are effective in their jobs. They've been pushed into a situation that is very much one they don't want to be in.

– Nigel Williams, NASUWT
The academy trust says it is working with the unions to find a solution. Credit: ITV News

We are committed to providing the very best possible teaching and learning environment for both our staff and pupils, and we recognise the importance of this in enabling every individual to have the opportunity to succeed and fulfil their potential. The board and the management of the trust are working very hard and with urgency to ensure that this is resolved as soon as possible. We have been in constructive and substantive consultation and discussion for several months, and are continuing to work closely and constructively alongside the unions and across our schools to ensure a prompt resolution. We are endeavouring to work towards a joint commitment with the unions that will deliver the best outcomes for staff and for the children and young people are privileged to serve.

– ACE school spokesman