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Flagship academy rocked by teacher exodus and strikes

King Solomon primary teachers warning over workload meet parents in park demonstration

14 July, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Teachers and parents at the demonstration 

THE majority of a primary school’s teachers are set to leave their jobs this summer after workload levels pushed them to walk out on strike.

Teachers from King Solomon Academy in Penfold Street, Lisson Grove, met parents gathered in Broadley Street Gardens on Tuesday to tell them just how bad the situation had got.

Around a dozen primary teachers are expected to leave at the end of the term according to the Nation- al Union of Teachers (NUT).

The school’s NUT rep Lisa Hyland said: “Most of the primary teachers are leaving.

“It has the highest number of young teachers in Westminster so a lot of them are inexperienced. A lot of them next year will not be qualified. I feel it is the kids, at the end of the day, who are suffering. Our workload has increased dramatically.”

Last week, Westminster Extra reported on a strike at the academy, which is run by ARK education charity. ARK said this week there had been a problem with staff turnover this year, adding that all schools were grappling with “challenging financial times”.

Teachers have told Westminster Extra they are being asked to cover other people’s lessons, and having to take on extra responsibilities without the added time to do them, this was leaving teachers without the time to plan their own lessons to the best of their abilities.

Many teachers said they were regularly working 10 to 15 hours a day to keep up with the excessive workload.

Ms Hyland, who is head of Year 4 at the school, added: “More teachers this year have been off due to stress because of the increased workload. Many members of staff, no matter what level they’re at, feel like they are not listened to.”

With an exodus of teachers, many feared it was the children who would be badly affected. Many parents have rallied behind the teachers, who they say are doing an “amazing” job and were “disappointed” to hear so many were leaving.

Speaking at the park meeting on Tuesday, parent Rushba Reyazath said: “We’ve got really amazing teachers and the children are so close to them. They are very loving and caring. Them leaving is a real heartbreak. My kids are upset. My eldest says he wishes he could go to the school where his teacher is going.”

Another parent, Abeer Garhom, said: “It is really disappointing to hear that lots of good teachers are leaving the school. We don’t know who they are replacing them with. It is not good for the kids, for the parents, or the school. I hope it is not going to affect our children.” Speaking on Tuesday, regional officer at the NUT, Henry Fowler, said: “The demands of the

strike are simple. It is to ensure that teachers aren’t doing cover lessons; that they are able to use their planning and assessment time to deliver the best lessons for our pupils. To ensure that those that have management responsibilities, such as head of science or a key stage, have the ability to have extra time so they can do that job justice and get the best outcome for learners.”

A spokesman for the school said: “King Solomon Academy values our staff and we have been working closely with them to address their concerns. We are an ambitious and high- achieving academy and we have achieved some of the best results in the country, thanks to our hard-working colleagues.

“We acknowledge that there has been an issue with turnover this year and we have put improvements in place, based on staff feedback. We have expanded on the number of teaching staff for the new academic year, which we believe will help address concerns about teacher workload.

“From September, we will also have more school leaders in place, to offer even more support. We have exciting new talent coming in at both the teacher and leader level. We anticipate a smooth transition into the new year.”

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