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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Staff Oppose School Trust Scheme

More than half of the staff at Ponteland High School have signed a petition against plans for it to take on trust status, according to a campaign group.

But the school's Head Teacher says nothing has been received yet and responses to its consultation so far have been 'relatively small', with a majority of these being in favour.  

The Campaign Against Trust Status (CATS) claims a total of 72 teachers and support staff out of 122 at the school have added their name to the document, which calls upon the governors to reject the proposal to become a foundation school supported by a charitable trust.

The group believes the proposed benefits of the move — stronger links with businesses, organisations and universities — can happen without a status change and is concerned that it will have a harmful effect on the school and its staff.

CATS member and Ponteland High teacher Wendy Young said: "Leaving local authority control whilst other schools in the pyramid stay in it has the potential for conflict of interests. Staff place value on being part of a community of schools and resist the idea of any fragmentation.

"The signatories include support and teaching staff who are concerned that such a move would require significant and irreversible changes to the management of the school, would fail to raise educational standards and could, in the long term, have a detrimental effect on the pay and conditions of all staff."

Head Teacher Stephen Prandle said the responses to the consultation were relatively small so far.

He said: "This involves a wide constituency which includes parents and members of the Ponteland community as well as staff, and of the responses a slight majority are in favour.

"The views of our teachers and support staff are very important and it is their right to put them forward, but the lack of them shows that many appear to be taking a neutral stance or are comfortable with the proposals.

"Those who are being very vocal against this seem to be following the National Union of Teachers line."

The consultation ends next Friday.