Sheppey school staff go on strike over safety fears | #schoolsaftey

  • By Hamish Mureddu-Reid & Phil Harrison
  • BBC News

Image source, BBC/Phil Harrison

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Staff say they are subject to physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis

Staff at a Kent secondary school have gone on strike over poor pupil behaviour and staff safety.

The Oasis Academy’s sites at Sheerness and Minster on the Isle of Sheppey are affected by the action.

The National Education Union (NEU) called the action after staff complained of being physically and verbally abused “on a day-to-day basis”.

The school said it would be providing online material for students.

Claire Oosthuizen, who is a humanities teacher at the school and an NEU member, told BBC Radio Kent: “We want [children] to be able to come to school to learn without having to listen to a teacher having to keep a door shut because it’s being kicked in, or being kept out of one part of the building because yet another window has been smashed.

“Or children being upset because they’ve seen staff being physically or verbally abused.”

‘Unsafe learning environment’

Jo Gilmore, who teaches English at the school, said: “Some of the abuse we face on a day-to-day basis is just out of hand.

“We’re accountable for a lack of progress when sometimes we’re put in absolutely impossible situations.

“A small core of children in the classroom [are[ totally disrupting learning and making it an unsafe learning environment,” she said.

Tim Damms, an NEU picket supervisor said: “Levels of behaviour have declined so badly on the school estate that members just can’t take it anymore.

“Threats of violence, threats of assault, racial abuse, damage to property – we’ve been talking to the employer for months about this, and they’re just not getting a grip of it.”

The Oasis Academy was rated inadequate by Ofsted in August 2022, with inspectors finding pupils using “foul, homophobic, racist and sexist language”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Strike action is damaging to pupils’ learning and we are disappointed to see the NEU taking that action at the Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey.”

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