Star date: 22nd November 2011


A strike by teaching union members of the NUT and NASUWT shut down Oasis Academy MediaCityUK today. The staff are angry that Oasis has imposed 13 redundancies before Christmas without going through the proper consultation process. They were joined on the picket line this morning by members of Unison.

The strike is the latest crisis to hit the former Hope High School, following a pupil riot over the staff cuts a few weeks ago.

Full story here…

"Students here are really, really upset because it's their future…if they're doing GCSEs they're going to lose good staff – who is going to teach them?" Oasis teacher.

Oasis Academy MediaCityUK was shut today as unions staged a one day strike against 13 staff redundancies at the former Hope High School. This follows a protest by pupils a couple of weeks ago when they discovered that after Christmas they would be losing their GCSE teachers in exam year. The protest turned into a riot that was described by pupils as being "wild...like St Trinian's". (see here

Today it was the teachers' turn to make their feelings known with flags, banners and placards being waved at the front of the school on Eccles Old Road.

"Our members have been absolutely angered and frustrated because the management have gone through a redundancy process which should have taken months" said NUT regional secretary Avis Gilmore "They should have done consultations with all the staff the trade unions but they actually managed to complete the process in less than five weeks.

"We don't believe they've done it properly, we don't believe they've done it fairly and what we are asking for is that Oasis start the process again and do it properly" she added "We're not categorically saying that there might not be a need for redundancies, what we are saying is that it has to be a transparent and fair process.

The unions met twice with Oasis last week to try and resolve the dispute but were rebuffed.

"We do not understand why Oasis, which is quite a financially stable company, cannot put some additional money into this Academy until the end of the year until they sort this process out" said Avis "But they've informed us that every one of their academies is an independent business."

The redundancies are the latest nasty episode since Oasis took over Hope High School a few years ago. The Salford Star has received anonymous complaints of bullying of staff and pupils, nepotism, exam fiddling and over spending by the God squad charity, Oasis Trust, that runs the officially non-faith school.

"We have all sorts of issues with Oasis as a national group and within this Academy" said Avis "The teachers are at the end of their tether otherwise they wouldn't be taking this drastic action, it's not something they've done lightly. But the action this week is about the redundancy process.

"The Oasis mission statement is about providing the best for young people and pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged areas" she added "They clearly don't live up to their mission statement when push comes to shove…"

And at the sharp end of the shoving are the teachers who will lose their jobs at Christmas. One of them told us that while today's strike was about the redundancies, and the process of making those redundancies, it's the pupils' education and their aspirations for the future that is also going to suffer.

"It's been done so quickly, just before Christmas, and it's going to affect GCSE exam classes" the teacher said "I feel so sorry for some of the students who are going to miss out because they are going to be taught by non-specialists it seems.

"The students are really, really upset because it's their future and a lot of the parents are coming on board now too – they want some answers basically" the teacher added "There just seems to be very little communication – what is going to happen in January? You lose all these good teachers without being replaced, who's going to teach the students? That's the key question. If they want to become an outstanding academy, in order to become an outstanding academy do you not need good teachers in there?"

The teachers we spoke to confirmed the Star's previous stories of bullying and strange goings on at the Academy which is, for all intents and purposes, totally unaccountable and a law unto itself.

"I think a lot of it does go on but it's very well hidden" the teacher told us "It's rife in lots of academies which are results based. They have to get results. An academy can't be seen to be failing, basically because they've had money from the government and they'll do anything to get those results. There's lots of pressure – it's a national thing at the moment."

The affect on the day to day life at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK appears to be stifling – and now students, parents and teachers all want some answers from the school which next year will open a £25million new building on Salford Quays on the edge of MediaCityUK.

"Why aren't they talking to us or the parents – why aren't they doing that?" asks the teacher "They need to be more transparent and open about what is going on - why hasn't anyone from Oasis central been down to talk? The students are still angry, and they've not had the meetings they were promised. No-one is saying anything to them…"

Expect more trouble at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK. It would make a great investigative Panorama programme for the BBC, now based at MediaCityUK…

* See details for Anti Academy Conference 26th November - click here

* See also Salford Council Leader John Merry calls for meeting with Oasis - click here

Update 14th December 2011 click here

Matthew wrote
at 2:32:22 PM on Thursday, December 8, 2011
"Hate the Tories, love their policies" - not at all. Michael Gove's academies are a completely different kettle of fish from the academies set up by Labour. His idea is to take successful schools out of LA control and let them become a law unto themselves - completely different from partnering failing schools with a private sector sponsor, which was the Labour model of academies. Has Gove never heard of the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'? And don't get me started on some of his other bonkers ideas, such as free schools and troops to teachers. Gove seems hell-bent on recreating the 1950s education system in the 21st century, and his policies are going to be an unmitigated disaster. As for your generalisation that whatever the private sector touches it damages - not true. There have been many cases of academies improving greatly upon their predecessor schools, whether you want to admit that to yourself or not.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 9:49:17 AM on Thursday, December 8, 2011
The point I was making is that if private sector is not 100% successful then what's the point? I don't claim, as many do, to have any answers. What I do know is that whatever the cold hand of the private sector touches things get worse. I don't recall the pupils of Hope High ever walking out on strike. Hate the Tories, love their policies eh Matt?
Matthew wrote
at 5:29:02 AM on Thursday, December 8, 2011
I never said that all the academies do work. A number of them have done badly, in some cases even worse than the schools that they replaced. But then some local authority schools have done badly, for example Hope High School, which was on the verge of being put into special measures before Oasis became involved. What would be YOUR solution for dealing with such schools? My suggestion is to give the private sector an opportunity to succeed where the public sector has clearly failed. What's yours?
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 9:49:57 AM on Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The argument that accountability does not matter only stands up if all of these academies work. They don't.
Matthew wrote
at 3:51:50 PM on Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I simply don't see accountability as being the biggest issue. Just take a look across Manchester at the Manchester Academy in Moss Side, which replaced the failing (local authority controlled, I remind you) Ducie High School. The Manchester Academy now works wonders with an extremely challenging intake, many of whom speak little or no English when they enter the school. Should this be opposed because the school is run by a group based in Northamptonshire? Of course, the question must be asked of what action will be taken when academies fail, as some have done - see for example Unity Academy in Middlesbrough and the two academies in Sheffield, both incidentally run by the same organisation that runs the Manchester Academy. The only solution I can see is for parents not to send their children there. At the same time, you must answer the question of what to do with failing local-authority controlled schools. Throwing money at them often isn't the answer, and closure helps nobody. I agree that there must be greater accountability built into the academies model, with greater local representation in their governance, but that is not a reason to reject the model altogether. To lose the good that many academies have done in turning around failing schools simply because they are seen as unaccountable is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 6:33:32 AM on Tuesday, December 6, 2011
But it is a matter of public versus private. One is accountable to the electorate the other is not. It is as simple as that. It is the very fact that any private organisation has an agenda, whether that be to rip off the saps or teach us all a better way, is irrelevant.
Matthew wrote
at 1:01:09 PM on Monday, December 5, 2011
I would rather have a successful school run by a private sector organisation than a failing school run by the public sector. Some academies have been highly successful, turning around schools which were previously on the scrapheap. What matters is the education of young people, not private sector versus public sector ideology. If the private sector can run any given school (or group of schools, for that matter) better than the state, then by all means bring in the private sector. Better that than failing or closed schools. What can categorically NOT be allowed to happen is that schools be run expressly for the purpose of making profit, as the profit motive will inevitably lead to corners being cut and the standard of education provided to pupils suffering. Any profits that are made should be reinvested in education, not redirected into the pockets of greedy shareholders and CEOs. As for your suggestion that I 'remove the blue tinted specs', I can assure you that I hold no candle whatsoever for the torybastards and their Lib Dem poodles, I simply believe that the private sector isn't the ogre that it is made out to be. Problems occur when PROFIT is put ahead of absolutely everything else, as right-wing ideology says it must be. Believe me, if Oasis began running their school in Salford as a profit-making enterprise for the benefit of shareholders, I would be the first to oppose it.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 10:52:19 AM on Monday, December 5, 2011
What exactly does the private sector offer in any public service? If you can't see what a disaster privatisation is in other spheres, utilities for example, then I suggest to remove the blue tinted specs & have a good look around you.
Matthew wrote
at 7:42:59 AM on Monday, December 5, 2011
I agree, there are a lot of very murky, often money-grabbing activities going on in academies around the country. For example, I have just read about a Primary academy in Deptford, South London, which is proposing to close 2 weeks early for the Christmas break, and charge parents £20 a day per child to provide on-site activities. This works out at £200 for the 10 days, and if you have 3 children at the school, as my sister does at her local primary, it will set you back an obscene £600 at the most expensive time of year. See here: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/11/there-is-no-legal-obligation-on-academies-to-educate-pupils-for-a-certain-number-of-days/. There needs to be greater regulation of how academies operate, but that does not mean that the private sector should not be involved in education if it has something positive to contribute.
Callum wrote
at 3:14:12 AM on Monday, December 5, 2011
The christian ethos didn't stop the school making staff redundant at christmas. As far as links with India and South Africa are concerned, international links with other countries such as Denmark, Germany or Palestine all existed before Oasis came on the scene. Regarding Christianity some people at that academy should practise what they preach and stop taking people for idiots!
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 3:13:58 AM on Monday, December 5, 2011
The overriding problem with these types of school or academy or whatever they will call them next is that they are accountable to nobody. It might also be worth noting that all the death & destruction wrought by religion over the millennia make the riots in Salford & elsewhere look like a Christmas party.
Matthew wrote
at 4:25:33 AM on Sunday, December 4, 2011
Secrecy regarding their Christian foundation is a very strange accusation to make of Oasis, given that the head of the organisation has been quoted on this site as saying that Oasis wants to create "a church which is also a school…a school that is also a church" - http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=474. Oasis' publicity material also clearly states that the organisation is 'We are motivated by the life, message and example of Jesus Christ'. Not much secrecy there. Thanks to Oasis, the school now has links to communities in South Africa and India, which vastly expands the cultural horizons of its pupils. In any case, perhaps more Christianity in schools would lead to less of the rioting that brought shame upon Salford earlier this year. Not that the Salford Star objects to rioting, preferring to depict looting and vandalism as some sort of glorified Christmas party - http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=1060. All that Oasis is trying to do is help to regenerate an area that has been badly neglected as the clowncil has poured billions into Salford Quays whilst ignoring the rest of the city. I don't see what there is to object to in that.
Anon wrote
at 12:28:02 AM on Saturday, December 3, 2011
Research has revealed a couple of additional points. a) The current Principal clearly has experience of making teachers redundant and perhaps he was appointed because of this. Just google Todmorden High School redundancies. b) Oasis Academies are now designated Christian schools. Don't know when this happened but it is something they don't like to advertise. The description below of the Media City Academy has been copied directly from the Ofsted website Pupils Gender: Mixed Age range: 11-18 Number of pupils on roll: 516 Characteristics Description: Secondary Religious character: Christian Boarding provision: No
caroline wrote
at 12:57:22 PM on Saturday, November 26, 2011
Dawn..I think you hve answers your own complaint...downfall of pupil in take,,What can I say to that...
dawn wrote
at 7:37:45 AM on Saturday, November 26, 2011
clearly, you dont see the bigger picture were was the support for other schools within the same area where teachers and non teaching staff were made redantant just because of the downfall of pupil intake in the last five years. also schools shuting down what happend to all them teachers and non teaching staff am sure there not in one big school.
caroline wrote
at 10:28:06 AM on Friday, November 25, 2011
Thanks Dawn..We need teachers and to do this job..Maybe some cannot cope... even so they care... for they have to care..to do the job.. My daugher is studying and does part time work..she gets spit on an kicked.But she sees these chrildren are lost.Who knows what they could offer or be..without such..help.
Dawn wrote
at 3:59:27 PM on Thursday, November 24, 2011
My youngest son is at oasis and I am appalled at the news that some of the best teachers at the academy being made redundant. It is a very important time in a childs life and they dont need the upheavel of teachers leaving mid way through the academic year. The level of discipline is a joke within the school fireworks being thrown in school from around the begining of October, kids selling and making a large profit out of it, the list is endless. after a recent progress day it seems a lot of the teachers couldn't care less and just want the results. Cant see the school surviving to be honest once it moves to its new premises if I had to choose again my son wouldn't be going to this school but he is settled now. I back the teachers 100%
caroline wrote
at 3:58:43 PM on Thursday, November 24, 2011
thanks for that..nachtchlepper..reading others. I have to say not all private is bad..Councils have public endless funds. some think they have the power..and use it..badly..The nice ones get walked over while the bad ones make every body hate..private and councils.The bad ones rule on both sides..we have to stop them..There are so many rules it makes one head spin.. lets get simple.Cut through the red tape and sort matters out..common sence..Lets have some..
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 10:37:02 AM on Thursday, November 24, 2011
Blame whoever you like the fact remains that no party opposed the de-democtratisation of local government. In privatising services you take them out of the control of the taxpayer, the people who pay for those services. This is the very reason we should oppose any measures to take these unfair, lunatic policies further. Take back what is ours. If this latest episode does not highlight the need for local authorities to control such vital services as our children's education then I do not know what will.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 10:36:29 AM on Thursday, November 24, 2011
Shhhh Caroline don't mention hope, you might get lines from teacher.
Matthew wrote
at 10:36:21 AM on Thursday, November 24, 2011
Dave, wiser words were never spoken. Politicians are only in it for themselves. The country needs a revolution.
at 2:51:18 PM on Wednesday, November 23, 2011
caroline wrote
at 2:50:26 PM on Wednesday, November 23, 2011
to ursula imadgggawa..my mum use to say ..the money God rules..some of my chrildren went to Wentworth..Woderful staff..but to some students came from homes were the fist rules..You have your work cut out to turn the few around and still help the rest ..both wish to learn,,but not all can be brains of the year.But all need to be given hope...Thats the name ...Hope... So lets continue and give all Hope..
at 11:42:43 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Be careful with he exam fiddling accusation and stop blaming the tories for what the last government did.
Ursula Imadegawa wrote
at 3:54:29 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2011
As a long time teacher I was and am horrified at the self indulgence of Oasis, When I first heard about this I was concerned at how money was driving the situation, Long term highly effective teachers seemed to be being targeted purely to cut costs. This was my initial reaction but THEN I realised the teachers were to go mid year and I was astounded the principle of EDUCATION was being raped. The school year is from September till July its always an issue when staff leave mid year due to health issues etc. That the admin would impose this mayhem on its own students was and is beyond belief. I have since heard that those teachers the "New Fired" have been asked to continue on in Janurary teaching THEIR old classes but as supply teachers!!! Is this the face of modern British Education!! more Soviet style and even there that style was thrown out, seems we have caught it. That money drives our schools drives our futures is something to be feared its a step away from the OLD SELECTION OF THE Richests the Best with the rest destined for unemployment benefit land. That some of these teachers are the most loved and respected by the full range of students at Hope Academy that some of these teachers who have outstanding results at the high end of the scale ALSO have the most challenging students electing to take their classes that they can inspire the full range of students, keep losing students in school and end up engaging them in the educational process is the sign of a gifted teacher. This same gifted teacher is blamed for getting a range of results the best which is what a good teacher gets out of the most capable student and a reasonable result from those who learnt to understand better, And equally importantly inspired many to keep involved and to do their best which was better than creating problems for themselves by not developing any potential they had. The problem for these good teachers seems to be that the range of results they get is not good enough for the these new OASIS of learning schools they call themselves HOPE but they only really offer HOPE for the top 4% Its obvious they do not want the full range of student they are creeping back to the old bad ways of Selection good students at the front and the rest disappear. Some of the parents suffered that policy certainly their grandparents did surely they do not want this for their children and grandchildren. These teachers have hit the nail on the head with focusing our attention on one of the major silent attacks on our outstanding educational system. Three expensive administrators versus 13 veteran teachers balanced by examination year student needs I know which way common sense would vote. Good luck to them all they are beginning a fight that I fear British Society will need to fight and win. Money is not God. We should support our new educational Hero's.
Ian Coupe wrote
at 3:51:52 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Good luck to all the teachers at this school. Well done on having the guts to take this on. Academy Schools which are publicly funded but totally unaccountable to anybody are the biggest disgrace of the New Labour years (and that is saying something). Tony Blair needed Tory votes to get Academies through. Now we see the results already in the corrupt, overpaid management of such institutions.
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