Staff at Bexley school strike in row over suspended and sacked colleagues

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 November 2019

Staff at St Catherine's form their picket line. Picture: Michael Gavan

Staff at St Catherine's form their picket line. Picture: Michael Gavan


Some 50 members of staff, including teachers, have held two one-day strikes at a Bexley school amid claims several teachers are being bullied by senior management.

Two members of staff are suspended and a third was sacked from St Catherine's School in Watling Street, but along with the National Education Union will not release details because they are confidential.

The union says the strikes are over "bullying" by the headteacher.

It claims the head has also ignored staff views and banned trade union meetings.

Michael Gavan, the union's regional officer for Bexley, said: "We do not want to be taking strike action, but we feel we have no choice.

"We often hear that schools will not tolerate bullying of students, but here we have bullying of staff, and that is not acceptable.

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"Two members of staff are currently unfairly suspended and a third has been unjustly sacked. These members must be reinstated and the bullying of staff must end, but I am not willing to go in to their personal details because that is confidential.

"There is a real culture of fear at this school, and it must be addressed."

The school said: "Governors at St Catherine's have had to follow a disciplinary process and suspend some members of staff. Investigations are being carried out independently of the school to ensure fairness. The school governors have a moral and legal duty of care to our students, and it is therefore incredibly important that any serious allegation is robustly investigated and that staff accept and respect this process.

"Despite meeting with the National Education Union at ACAS, and our repeated requests for them to put our students' education and wellbeing first, we are deeply disappointed that the union has refused to call off the strike action, which includes some staff as well as a number of individuals unconnected to the school.

"Industrial action does not help anyone, least of all the children who are missing important time in lessons. However, we have still been able to keep the school open for Year 11 students throughout the week so that they can continue to prepare for their very important examinations. We will continue to work hard to compensate and minimise the disruption to learning for all other students."

More strikes are planned for November 12, 13 and 14.

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