Updated: Probe launched into ‘intimidation’ of teachers at Rainhill High

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Council bosses are set to investigate union claims of intimidation by bosses at a strike-hit St Helens school.

The investigation comes after senior leaders at the school referred the allegations by the NASUWT union to St Helens Council.

p1 prescot news
Headteacher John Pout. (Andy)

p1 prescot news Headteacher John Pout. (Andy)

It follows the announcement that 12 more days of industrial action over claims of intimidation by the school’s leadership team are planning by teachers.

Members of the NASUWT will walk out on April 19, 20, 25, 26 and May 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18.

Unions called the strike over claims members of the school’s senior leadership team, which includes headteacher John Pout, intimidated teachers involved in a national dispute over excessive workloads.

But in a letter, seen by the Reporter, sent out to parents the school’s trustees insist the claims of intimidation were made by a small minority of teachers and are not backed up by any evidence.

However, they say they have now asked St Helens Council to meet with the NASUWT union to “listen to members concerns”.

The letter states: “The NASUWT have stated publicly that one of the reasons for their action is one of intimidation.

“In response, we have written to all staff saying that it is not something that we will tolerate from anyone at Rainhill High School.

“We have asked any member of staff who wishes to, to contact ourselves and we will deal with any intimidation, without fear or favour.

“In addition, we have commissioned an independent third party, St Helens Council, to meet with the NASUWT to listen to their members concerns.

“This would then be anonymised before it was presented to trustees. To date, the NASUWT has failed present any evidence to support assertions.”

It is unclear when the investigation is due to start or when it will report its findings.

One current Rainhill High teacher has told the Reporter working at the school, which is regarded as one of the best-performing in the borough, as “hell”, with excessive demands made on teachers.

However, a council spokesman said the formal process had not yet started as the unions had not yet come forward to cite examples of intimidation.

He added: “The school’s Chair of Governors has asked all employees and NASUWT to come forward with specific concerns and evidence and has asked the council to investigate anything they receive.

“To date no response has been forthcoming from NASUWT or employees at the school.”

Speaking about the planned strikes, Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The NASUWT remains committed to seeking to resolve the issues under dispute and hopes that the employer will work with the union to fully address our members’ concerns so that further strike action can be avoided.”

Bevanie Robinson, NASUWT National Executive Member for Merseyside and Cheshire, said: “The NASUWT remains committed to seeking to resolve the issues under dispute, but will always act to support members who are being subjected to unacceptable practices and intimidation by management.

“We sincerely hope that further strike action can be avoided and would implore the employer to agree to meet with us to discuss our members concerns.”

A Rainhill High School spokesman said: “Despite any strike action, Rainhill High School will remain open for all students.

“The NASUWT have threatened 14 days of strike action between 28 March and the end of May 2017.

“This is under their national dispute with the Government.

“The school will remain open as the NASUWT only represents a minority of the teachers at Rainhill High School.

“The school is keen to resolve this and has referred this matter to ACAS, and the Trustees are happy to meet with NASUWT and ACAS to resolve these issues.”