According to the Ofsted report (dated February 2012), Uplands Junior School was being run smoothly and effectively (they received a good rating). Specific mention was made that teaching assistants were providing both expert and “outstanding support” to their students.
Yet none of this stopped the school’s latest headmaster, Dr Tim Luckcock (a newcomer to Uplands) from treating his staff with contempt, and brutally cutting the number of teaching assistants employed at his school. Actually going further than this, (mis)arguing that teaching assistants “are generally amongst the least effective investments in raising pupil attainment”.
In September the Leicester Mercury reported that the now suspended and discredited head Tim Luckcock and his governing body had spent over £48,000 on legal fees since April. However the latest evidence suggests that a further £20,000 had been used by governors for legal fees. As Ian Leaver, of Leicester’s branch of the National Union of Teachers, said:
“This is a totally immoral use of the schools’ budget that is supposed to be used for the education of the children. I don’t think that there can be any greater proof of the contempt that the governors clearly hold the children, staff and Local Authority in.”
Talking to BBC Radio Leicester this morning, Ian Leaver pointed out that his union had:
“… supported Unison and GMB in their current position, which is that they are prepared to accept that the teaching assistants get a further opportunity to appeal their dismissal. All that means is that they will not be automatically reinstated, but that there is some acceptance that their dismissal cant possibly have been fair under the circumstances that the school was going through at that time and the attitude of the governing body at that time. So if they have the opportunity for a further appeal then that at least would allow them to at least feel that they have been fairly heard.
“The pupils at [Uplands] deserve to have their teachers focusing their entire attention back onto teaching them, which is exactly what they want to do. I have spoken to the teachers regularly over this, they very reluctantly took the action they did because of the outrageous behaviour of the governing body, and they just want to get back to do what they normally do.”
On the issue of the ongoing legal action that the schools board of governors are taking using funds that should be used to educate their students Leaver added:
“The warning notice that the governors are wanting to take to judicial review was upheld by Ofsted. They have the right to appeal that warning notice and they did appeal that warning notice – they left it till before the 11th hour before doing so – but they did appeal within the time scale. But Ofsted rejected their appeal, and upheld the warning notice and decided that it was fair…. It is hardly surprising that [the governing body] have a team of solicitors who want to pursue this further on behalf of the governing body as they are being paid by them. Why would they not want to keep advising the governing body to keep taking further legal action? It simply means more money for the solicitors.”
With regard to the implications of the latest legal action he explained:
“My understanding is that the judge has granted [the suspended governing boards] permission to go to judicial review. That’s not necessarily a judgement of whether they are in the right or in the wrong, they just have the right to go to a judicial review. The fact of the matter is that the warning notice that was issued, which is what they are complaining about, was appealed against, was considered by Osted. Ofsted independently came in, looked at that warning notice and decided it was fair and that is was reasonable.”
In conclusion Leaver succinctly noted:
“My message to the governors is to allow the school to move forward, to let the teachers get on with doing the job that they are paid to do, that is to teach the children there; to accept the fact that there will be an interim executive board in place, and they need to recognize the fact that they have not behaved appropriated throughout all this.”
Michael Barker, “Striking at Uplands,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, May 16, 2013.
Michael Barker, “Local teachers fight the cuts,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, May 21, 2013.
Heather Rawling, “Leicester teachers strike to defend education and assistants’ jobs,” The Socialist, May 21, 2013.
Michael Barker, “The end of teaching assistants?,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, May 22, 2013.
Michael Barker, “Taking a walk on Dr Luckcock’s wild side,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, May 25, 2013.
Michael Barker, “Mismanaging schools,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, June 10, 2013.
Heather Rawling, “NUT members strike to defend teaching assistant posts at a Leicester school,” The Socialist, June 11, 2013.
Michael Barker, “Don’t stress about stress?,” Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist, June 14, 2013.
Steve Score, “Uplands junior strikes again,” The Socialist, September 5, 2013.