Cheltenham Labour Party is sorry to hear that the situation at Greatfield School has deteriorated to the point that the teachers conclude that their only course of action is to go on strike. For teachers, such a decision is always a last resort, when attempts to find a constructive solution to a problem have failed.
While there is no clear information about the nature of the disagreements between the teachers and the headteacher, comments on the story suggest that some of the staff have left over recent years and, more recently, the chair of governors and several governors have resigned their roles on the board. If this is correct, it suggests that the relationships between management, workforce and governors have been under severe strain and possibly broken down.
We are also disappointed to see this situation described as a ‘staff room spat’ by the local MP, Alex Chalk. If the situation is as bad as it sounds, there is a desperate need for effective mediation, and this perhaps is something that Mr Chalk could have offered, instead of trivialising the issue.
Teachers have been under huge pressure during the pandemic, rapidly adapting their teaching to accommodate online learning, supporting their pupils through the disruption and their fears about the virus, and trying to safeguard their own physical and mental health. As we come out of lockdown we would advocate compassion, support and mediation to deal with workplace difficulties.
Children will only learn effectively if they are thriving in a happy and constructive environment, so the situation at Greatfield needs urgent resolution, with well supported teachers able to give their all for their pupils.