Academy ‘will drive pay down’

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TEACHING unions have rounded on the new Trinity Academy Halifax for breaking rank.

They fear the school will drive down pay and conditions and its links with St Catherine’s High School, also at Holmfield, will lead to a similar situation there – accusations that have been dismissed by the school.

Trinity has also been criticised at a meeting of the council employees’ forum for its pattern of term dates starting later this year which vary from all other Calderdale Schools.

Now staff unions want the local authority – which is a sponsor of Trinity – to keep a close watch on developments and detail what its role as a sponsor involves.

Unions say the school is increasingly seeking to operate in a way that does not reflect local authority sponsorship.

Forum chairman and teacher Jim Miller, of the NUT, said Trinity, which became an academy in September, signed a commitment to honour pay and conditions and it was now seeking to renegotiate agreements.

Neighbouring St Catherine’s intends to shed teaching staff before becoming an academy itself and is working towards partnership links with Trinity.

“We have concerns over the partnership – an apparent takeover which would have a significant impact on a currently maintained school which is part of the local authority,” said Mr Miller.

“It’s now a question of discussing the role of the local authority as a sponsor.

“It would appear sponsorship is not having any effect in adopting practices of the local authority.”

Councillor John Hardy (Con, Skircoat) said the authority could not enforce anything on an academy but its role as a sponsor should be looked at.

Councillor Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said she voted for the academy and thought it would work hand-in-hand with the authority, but the first thing it did was announce a change in term dates which many were against.

“It was an opening shock. The school was not going to take any notice of us,” she said.

The forum has asked for reports on the authority’s role in the school and Trinity’s role in the future development of St Catherine’s for its next meeting.

Trinity head Michael Gosling, speaking after the meeting, said there were no plans to change pay and conditions.

“The only thing we have negotiated is the leave-of- absence policy in agreement with unions which brought support staff in line with teaching staff,” he said.