WATCH: Plume Academy closed as 60 teachers go on strike - Principal remains 'immensely proud' of them

By Ben Shahrabi

6th Feb 2023 | Local News

The Principal of Maldon's Plume Academy has spoken out in support of his colleagues, after more than 60 teachers went on strike last Wednesday (February 1).

Carl Wakefield, Executive Principal at the school, told Nub News: "After the most challenging three years the education profession has arguably ever had to navigate its way through, the last thing any school leader wants to do is close their school for the day and move to a remote learning programme.

"However, unlike the COVID-19 period, last Wednesday's closure was based on significant numbers of our team of teaching staff who are affiliated to the National Education Union (NEU) opting to take industrial (strike) action. Furthermore, members of both our teaching and support staff who are not affiliated to the NEU then opted not to cross the picket lines on the day itself.

"This was far from an easy decision to come to for those colleagues I work alongside each and every day, however, they came to it not just in an attempt to secure a fair and well-deserved pay rise, but to raise concerns that our profession is facing up to many other unprecedented challenges – challenges that have been raised with the Government over many years now but that are still not be listened to or actioned.

"Therefore, those colleagues only have my utmost respect for endeavouring to make a difference, not just for their colleagues but also for our current and future students and families. That is why I remain immensely proud of them."

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted to go on the first of a series of proposed strikes throughout England and Wales last week, after talks between the government and the union broke down.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue, they have sat on their hands."

7,000 NEU members in Essex could take further industrial action on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 1 March
  • Wednesday 15 March
  • Thursday 16 March

Last Wednesday, more than half of schools in England either completely closed or restricted attendance due to the strikes, Government data has shown.

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