Students strike at Cowes school

By Emily Pearce

Friday, April 4, 2014


Students strike at Cowes school

Students strike at Cowes Enterprise Academy. Picture by Robin Crossley.

UPDATED 16:14*

STUDENTS went on strike at Cowes Enterprise College this morning (Friday) in support of school staff set to lose their jobs.

Shortly after registration at 8.30am, hundreds of students walked out of class, waving banners and chanting 'save our teachers.'

They were protesting at plans to make 26 support staff and five teachers redundant, as the school looks to cut costs in light of falling student numbers. As revealed in the County Press today, the school is facing a projected budget deficit of almost £900,000.

The protest was organised via social media last night (Thursday).

A huge crowd amassed on the school field, chanting 'who are you?' at school principal Rebecca Pearce — who demanded the County Press leave the school site — as she tried address students through a megaphone.

Head girl Jenny Stokell, 17, said the protest showed how strongly students felt about supporting their teachers and support staff.

"It shows how valuable we think the staff are. The restructuring hasn't come from the school, it's come from Ormiston. It's a shame the fantastic staff who've done so much to improve the school, as we're looking to come out of special measures, are losing their jobs," she said.

The Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) is set to take over the school in September, when the new staff structure is due to be implemented.

Leader of the student council Zoe Divers, 17, said: "I was a bit sceptical at first, because it didn't seem very professional. But considering the kids have organised this off their own bat, it shows how much support they have for the staff.

"The job losses will really affect Learning Support Assistants, who are vital. They've played a big part in improving behaviour, which is helping us out of special measures."

Staff have also reacted with anger to the proposed job and pay cuts and, as reported in today's County Press, the Unison and GMB unions have said a vote of no confidence in Cowes Enterprise College bosses looks increasingly likely.

Ms Pearce declined to comment, but told the County Press a statement would be issued in due course.

Firefighters were called to the school playing fields at 9.45am following an fire involving a aerosol can. The fire was extinguished by a member of staff.

A police spokesman confirmedofficers has been made aware of the inicident and attended the school, but had not been required to take any action.

*College principal Rebecca Pearce said: "Students were allowed onto the college field after registration this morning to carry out a peaceful protest about their concerns on the proposed staff restructure.

"They were asked to present their case in a civilised manner, and all issues raised will be taken into consideration once the consultation period comes to an end on May 2nd.

"We understand the students’ frustration over the proposed restructure, and as today has shown, Cowes Enterprise pupils are passionate about the college and staff, and we will be looking at all the concerns raised during the peaceful protest."

A spokesman for the governing body said: "Two years ago we announced to staff that we would be reviewing the staffing structure once we had moved into the new build. This restructure is for economic reasons, not as a result of the conversion to academy status.

"Students are entitled to a peaceful protest, and their points will be listened to by the governing body. We are disappointed that a small number have turned this into something more.

"This is a difficult time, and we have to ensure that our budgets are balanced. In these times, it is important to understand that we have to operate within our means. Governors value the teaching and support staff and we are keen to work collectively. The structure is still under consultation and until that is completed, no decisions will be made regarding the restructure.

"Ofsted has already reported improvements, and has been supportive of the need to restructure. The governing body is fully supportive of the principal, Rebecca Pearce who is leading further improvement at the college."



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Displaying the last 10 of 33 comments - Show All Comments

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by Mat Thomas

6th April 2014, at 23:53:31

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by Scott Angles

6th April 2014, at 19:36:33

And Alan, under your ideology, times would change for the far, far worse. Still, 'far' is probably a popular word in your world.

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by alan naylor

6th April 2014, at 17:08:41

Scott as you say you are not certain of my point well it certainly did not advocate sending our youth to war at all my point was how times had changed some for the better but a lot more for the worst unfortunatly

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by Mat Thomas

6th April 2014, at 16:46:07

They want £357,000 for Cowes Enterprise College and then hand it over to Ormiston Academies Trust. This is why they want to streamline the staff so that they do not have to TUPE them across. The figure keeps on rising and some say it will go up to a million. The same old story, we raise the money to cover the deficit then we raise some more to be given away to privatisation.

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by sue allen

6th April 2014, at 10:52:11

How much support would have been offered if it was after school hours? Also that fire engine could have been needed somewhere else. What a load of hot air! And all these 'right on comments' are a joke.

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by Helen Bailey

6th April 2014, at 10:50:21

Well said, Paul B. I agree entirely. I don't doubt there is a budget deficit but what we want to have is some transparency regarding the process that led the school to this point. The project was given £33 million a relatively short while ago and now we're being told there's a deficit of almost a million? Please. There's no way on earth there should be a deficit if the process had been properly managed. Anyone who has been involved in the process should be required to account for their part in it. What Friday's action proved was the strength of feeling the pupils have for their school and their teachers - I wonder which of the other Island schools can honestly make that claim? The school is not failing; it's nurturing confident, secure children with the intelligence to use the same democratic channels as adults do when they want their voices heard. In other words it's preparing children for life. Education is about far more than league tables and beating the Chinese at maths.

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by alan naylor

5th April 2014, at 18:13:23

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by Marie Cheverton

5th April 2014, at 16:02:59

spelling mistake
Children not chidren

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by Marie Cheverton

5th April 2014, at 11:54:13

Surely chidren seen and not heard is part of yester year and not of the 21st Century!

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by Dan Brinton

5th April 2014, at 11:11:52

David, there was a small fire that was put out by a staff member. The fire fighters went over and laughed at it.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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