E-Act breaks no-redundancy pledge to education unions

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Teachers picket outside the Crest Boys Academy in Neasden yesterday morning
Teachers picket outside the Crest Boys Academy in Neasden yesterday morning

A STRIKE by all three teacher unions, the ATL, NASUWT and NUT, took place yesterday at Crest Boys’ Academy in Neasden and the school was closed for the day.

The dispute centres on a broken promise made to staff that there would be no redundancies made by E-Act on the taking over of the inner-city school and also the breaking of an agreement with unions on ways to avoid redundancy.

The dispute has been exacerbated by revelations that Sir Bruce Liddington, Head of E-Act, and senior executives of the charity have been misspending charitable funds on luxurious hotel suites and £250 taxi-fares and have also been awarding themselves huge salaries and bonuses.

E-Act is partly funded by money taken directly from the school’s budget.

Shane Johnschwager, Brent NASUWT Secretary, said ‘E-Act, as a charity, should focus on teachers, not taxis, and books, not bonuses. Parents would rightly expect a charity in charge of an inner-city school to channel money into teachers and frontline resources, not huge salaries for its directors.’

Hank Roberts, Brent ATL and NUT Secretary, said ‘They have been and are on a gravy-train at taxpayers expense. How utterly disgraceful to say they can’t afford to pay staff and have to sack teachers to the detriment of pupil’s education whilst for themselves money appears no object.’

In a letter to every parent and carer of the pupils at the school members of all three unions representing the overwhelming majority of teachers at the school wrote:

‘Dear Parent/Carer

You will have recently received a letter from the Principal of the Crest Boys’ Academy, regarding the proposals, by EACT, to make some of your son’s teachers redundant.

A reduction in staff will mean his education will be compromised.

Before EACT took control of the school, staff were given assurances that there would be NO redundancies. Within a few months this promise has been broken.

The reasons for the redundancies given, by EACT, are financial and that the school budget cannot sustain the number of teachers at the school.

However, the unions’ view is that this is simply not true.

EACT have taken £279,000 from our school budget for ‘management costs’.

They also receive £50 million in grants from the government.

An article in The Guardian, of April 7th 2010, goes some way to explain these management costs (enclosed).

The people running EACT have also been running up expenses for £300+ hotel suites and £250 taxi fares!

These funds are taken from taxpayers’ money which is intended to be spent on the education of your children!

With this in mind, it is our view that they can afford to resolve the situation without resorting to compulsory redundancies.

We are nonetheless, deeply concerned that your child will miss a day of their education, especially at this important time of year.

However, if staff are sacked and we simply standby and do nothing we firmly believe more sackings will follow and your child’s education will be damaged further.

Staff at Crest Boys’ have held several meetings and have asked EACT to delay their decision to sack staff and consider other ways in which to proceed.

Unfortunately, EACT has ignored our requests and intend to go ahead.

Therefore, an overwhelming majority of the school’s teaching staff feel that we have no other option but to take industrial action.

All of the staff who have taken this decision have the best interest of your son at heart and the future intake of pupils at the school.

We do not take this action lightly and it has only been taken because we have exhausted all other avenues of negotiation.

We hope that you will support your son’s teachers at this very difficult and challenging time at the academy.

Signed

Members of Association of Teachers and

Lecturers (ATL) National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) National Union of Teachers (NUT)

Representing the overwhelming majority of

teachers at the school

The Guardian article in question alleged that ‘Sir Bruce Liddington, the director general of E-Act, which allocates government money to eight schools, claimed £1,436 on deluxe hotel suites for two nights for himself and a colleague, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

‘Another senior director of E-Act repeatedly claimed £250 to take a taxi from Lincolnshire to his home in south Wales, copies of receipts show.

‘The disclosures come amid calls for a government inquiry into the finances of academy schools and the trusts that run them, because they are not open to public scrutiny. It follows criticism last week of Liddington’s £265,000 salary, prompting claims that he is now the highest paid education executive in Britain.’

The article said that Paul Holmes, a Liberal Democrat member of the children, schools and families select committee, had told a hearing of that committee that E-Act directors were enjoying a high-flying lifestyle using public money.

‘You have got eight directors . . . who have company credit cards and expense accounts. They use chauffeur-driven BMW and Mercedes limousines to visit academies around the country,’ he said.