Halley Academy strikers take message on a bus to Leigh HQ

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“The direct funding of education should not be siphoned into high executive pay but should go into directly supporting our future generations”, says GMB Southern

GMB members at Halley Academy in Blackheath take their fourth day of strike action on Tuesday 14th May, joined by NEU and Unison members to make this the biggest strike yet. The striking staff will then board an open-top bus to take the message direct to the Headquarters of the Leigh Academy Trust. The dispute is over the Trust's decision to make 19 vital members of support staff redundant. Halley Academy has over 160 students identified as needing support, and these support staff play a crucial role in educating, supporting and mentoring.

The academy, previously named Corelli College, was taken over by Leigh Trust at the instruction of the Regional Schools Commissioner in March 2018. This followed an Ofsted report which rated the school as "requires improvement" and also stated that a key area to achieve improvement was to boost achievement for special needs pupils. These redundancies cast doubt on the Trust's commitment to achieving this.

GMB members previously went on strike on the 27th March, 4th April and again on 14th May joined by Unison. On the 14th May support staff and teaching staff at Halley Academy will be on strike. There will be a picket and demonstration from 7.30 to 9.30 am. Then an open top bus will take demonstrators down to Strood to demonstrate outside the Trust headquarters based at Strood Academy.

Donna Spicer, GMB Greenwich Assistant Branch Secretary said: "19 support staff are being made redundant under the guise of "not enough funding" yet Simon Beamish the CEO of Leigh Academy Trust is on a 230k salary. The support staff at Halley Academy are hard-working, caring, low paid workers in their role to support children with emotional and behavioural needs. Helping them access a good education while supporting them with their daily struggle.  What does the CEO do?  Sits in an office behind a desk shuffling papers. This is what Academisation does. The GMB are here today to support the staff and say "We will not allow you to destroy the education of pupils in need and the lives of support staff who work incredibly hard."

Clive Smith, GMB Regional Organiser said: "GMB’s video from the picket line has been viewed 12,000 time on social media platforms, and been shared almost 200 times. This is not due to the members alone, this is because students, former students, parents of students and others in the local community can recognise the vital work that our members are doing on a daily basis.

"Incredibly Leigh Academy Trust have come to the conclusion that paying Chief Executive Simon Beamish £230k is necessary, yet 19 front line staff working and supporting the pupils directly are dispensable. This is the shabby economics of the Academy system.

"The direct funding of education should not be siphoned into high executive pay but should go into directly supporting our future generations. The GMB union and GMB members will not sit by and let this disgrace slip through quietly.

"There is still time to reverse this decision and we are calling on Leigh Trust to do just that and protect the future of special needs provision at Halley."


Contact:  Clive Smith 07802 958 554 or or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762