`Save Our Teachers…Save Our Teachers'… This was the chant going up at the Oasis Academy MediaCityUK last Tuesday as pupils learned the amount of teachers being axed in cutbacks at one of Salford's `flagship' schools.
"It said in the paper that five teachers were being made redundant but then we found out that it was actually 13 and we weren't happy with it - some of us tried to speak to the Head Teacher but he just wouldn't listen to us…" one of the Oasis pupils told us.
"They always say that years 10 and 11 are dead important years for your GCSEs but the teachers that they're getting rid of are the ones that teach them and they're not being replaced" another added "They are half way through teaching A levels, and we don't know what we're going to do. It's just ridiculous."
As a peaceful protest, those affected made their feelings known at the school gates, while others went around the school with a petition…
"It wasn't meant to be a big protest and it was only meant to be years ten and eleven but the whole school turned up and it got a bit out of control" another pupil added "All the teachers stood there saying `Go in, go in' but everyone just barged past them going `Save Our Teachers' and stuff like that."
A group of pupils from the school gates were eventually persuaded to go and talk to the head teacher in his office but by this time, we understand, things were getting out of control…
"Everyone was still stood there and they were letting off bangers and stuff like that, and kids were throwing things" we were told "It was wild…It was like St Trinian's. Eventually they threatened them with exclusions to get them back in school."
Once back in school, there was a fire alarm practise but "then the alarm went off another four times which was the pupils just getting the teachers outside and they started chanting all this stuff again"…
According to the pupils, what happened last Tuesday at the Oasis Academy wasn't just mindless trouble making – it was young people showing support for teachers and caring about their education which will be severely disrupted by the cuts.
"The teachers were really upset, and some were crying after the interviews they had when they learned they were being made redundant" a pupil said "The full school has been shook up, some these teachers have been there for years and they are some of the best ones."
The response by the school, we understand, was to exclude ten pupils while others received detentions. The Salford Star has since had complaints from parents about the school's draconian measures.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has responded to the redundancies by holding a strike ballot amongst its members…
"There are a number of redundancies at the school, and we are representing an NUT member who has been made redundant" says Avis Gilmore, regional secretary of the NUT North West.
"We are in the process of ballotting our members for strike action because we don't believe it's been a fair and proper and transparent process."
The Oasis Trust, which took over the former Hope High School, has been at the centre of controversy ever since it moved into formal education. Three years ago there was a pupil riot at its Oasis Academy Mayfield over student conditions. That ended with the Head Teacher resigning.
Meanwhile, the Salford Star has constantly questioned both the `non-faith' school's Christian ethos ("we will end up with a church which is also a school…a school that is also a church…" Steve Chalke, head of Oasis Trust) and the new school building on Salford Quays which is forecast to be half empty when it opens next September (for more details see links below).
"The head teacher blamed everyone else but himself – he said the ones before had overspent and left him to deal with it, that there were too many teachers and not enough pupils" said Year 10 protesters "But the school's spent money on all these ridiculous things like two whiteboards that cost five grand each and are never used.
"There's also a radio station that cost around £8,000 that's not used…There's Apple laptops that have been there for three years and never been used - they've got all this high tech equipment and no teachers!" they added "And now they're moving to a school that's three times as big as this one and no pupils to go in it. It's getting ridiculous."
You could argue that it's been allowed to get like this, with the school being a law unto itself, because Academies are outside local authority control. However, Salford Council has encouraged the growth of Oasis in the city through its constantly faltering Building School For The Future programme.
The information that the Salford Star has obtained on the disturbances from Oasis pupils cannot be verified because the no-one from the school would comment – which in itself is very strange because the Oasis Academy has major links with Salford's Media City and prides itself on its media teaching.
However, we have found a job description for the Deputy Principal from March this year which stated that the successful candidate "will have the ability to excite and enthuse students and staff, empowering them to maximise their potential and share our deeply held belief that all students can succeed given the right opportunity and support…"
It seems that when students become `empowered' they are excluded. And that the school's `deeply held belief that all students can succeed given the right opportunity and support' means sacking their teachers half way through GCSEs...
Meanwhile, the result of the teachers' strike ballot will be known tomorrow…
Update 14th December 2011 - click here
Update 9th November 2011 - Teachers Vote For Strike Action: click here
See more allegations about Oasis plus details on Anti Academies Conference 26th November - click here
Previous Salford Star Stories on Oasis Academy...
* See Oasis Academy MediaCity Half Empty - click here
* See It's The Non-Faith School For Christ's Sake - click here
* See The Mary Burns White Elephant Award - click here
* See School For S(c)andals - click here