4 more days of strike action announced for Lincoln primary school over claims of bullying

An education union has sprung a ‘surprise’ on a Lincoln primary school by announcing four more days of strike action this month, just weeks after an agreement seemed to have been reached over allegations of staff bullying. Union members who are staff at Sir Francis Hill Community Primary School on Bristol Drive in Lincoln have joined walkouts on several occasions this year.

The saga appeared to be approaching a peaceful conclusion in May, when the NEU, NASUWT and UNISON all agreed proposals from the school’s governors for an independent review into collective grievance, relating to staff treatment and concerns. This meant future strike days were suspended by the three unions, but now the NEU has “surprised and disappointed” Sir Francis Hill’s board of governors by announcing four more strike days in July.

These will be on Wednesday, July 10, Thursday, July 11, Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, June 16. The NEU said that the union “at no point” agreed to call off strikes, but merely suspended action while the process of an independent review commenced.

“The employer failed to agree to assurance around the process, and were unwilling to ensure our members were protected under the process with a guarantee of no changes,” a spokesperson said. The back and forth and uncertainty of this dispute is leaving parents “incredibly worried” about the impact this will have on the education of their children.

Elizabeth, a mother of one pupil at Sir Francis Hill Community Primary School, said: “These strikes are always planned so close to the school holidays that it worked out last time my son was in school for two weeks of the month. As a working parent I have to work from home during these strikes, which is a luxury not all parents can have, and I certainly cannot work and help him study also.”

Elizabeth went on to say that the strikes are taking their toll on her child’s mental health, as well as asking if parents can “start sending invoices to the school for missed days at work or childcare.” She added: “I know when my child went back to school after the other lot of strikes he was very emotional and did not want to go back in. He’s only recently started to become happy again.

“He became anxious and worried when I discussed the strikes with him so I started telling him they were teacher training days. I have never taken him out of school for an educational trip, when things would be a lot cheaper to do so, in fear of a fine — however when school is cancelled parents are once again left footing the bill.”

Geraldine Willders, head of service for school strategy at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is a disappointing development given that the independent review of staff concerns requested by the unions is now underway. We understand that the school plans to re-open negotiations with the NEU while continuing to work on the agreed plan with the other two unions.

“We will realise parents will be frustrated by this news and can reassure them that the school will do all it can to minimise the impact on pupils.”

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