Tomorrow sees the last day for 13 teaching staff at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK, sacked right before Christmas and right in the middle of the school year.
Over the past few weeks, the Salford Star has run stories about the pupil riot at Oasis in support of the teachers (see here), and the political opposition from teaching trade unions, NUT and NASUWT the Teachers' Union (see here and here). Today we let the soon to be former teachers speak for themselves.
And, while the teachers face their own future hardships, it is the pupils that are at the centre of their thoughts...pupils who are having their life chances absolutely wrecked by the so-called `Christian' organisation, Oasis.
First we spoke to RE teacher John Bartlett, who leaves behind GCSE and A Level students…
"I'm devastated. I've worked in Salford for 36 years and think it's a bit of a poor show that I've ended up here. I actually worked with a group of Year 9s who had done GCSE, and we'd tried to start doing an A level course with them because they were so good. They're now in a situation where they're going to be taught by a non specialist.
The idea was for them to get an A star while they were at high school, which would have been really good for their UCAS forms going to university. At the top the pressure is so great and this would have made the difference, given them a chance at success in university placements. That dream was sold to them in lower school and they have worked really hard to achieve that - and that's all gone.
Initially I thought Oasis was forward looking, and the word they use a lot, `inclusive'. But over the last 15 months I've changed my feelings on that. It's been very prohibitive and narrow minded, which is a great pity because we had the opportunity here…We were a school that had proven ourselves, we'd dragged ourselves up by the bootstraps if you like. Year on year improvement, and not over the last couple of years, we've been improving for the last five or six years…
There was a really strong committed staff who went the extra yard with the kids we work with here – challenging students from challenging backgrounds, and we managed to win over them and their parents, and we were all united. It's been eroded and broken away over the last couple of years, and I think it's a great shame.
I'm fully aware that at the time we moved to become an academy we were under a great deal of pressure with falling roles all over the city, and I think it helped the Council get out of a hole at the time but that's just my opinion.
More than likely it was a necessary evil we had to go through. A lot of us wanted to believe that it was the best thing for us all and it appeared to be that for a while. But I'm sad to say that the proof of the pudding is that it wasn't the greatest idea – I don't know what we could have done to make it different…"
We also spoke to PE teacher, Adam Worsley, who leaves behind GCSE classes in Years 10 and 11…
"I can't understand why the Head has made these decisions because it doesn't add up. There's still going to be my PE classes, and my timetable need to be taught after Christmas. And that means there's going to be someone who is not qualified to teach PE doing the lessons, which isn't right and isn't fair on the children.
During a two year GCSE course, Year 11 will have had three different teachers, and they're now losing motivation trying to figure out why they're doing this. GCSE is very difficult as it is, and having three different teachers makes it very hard.
At the end of the day the kids are going to lose out most because they're going to have no consistency in their teaching. And the fact that you're losing a lot of very experienced staff. Part of the reason why the school had success was because the teachers were experienced in dealing with Salford children who can be quite difficult – they know how to teach them and how to get the best out of them. Now that's completely gone.
Oasis has turned out to be a very negative experience. I don't think they understand why people become teachers. They assume that people go into teaching as a career and try to get as much money as they can, when that's not the reason why the majority of people became a teacher. They become a teacher because they've got passion for their subjects and they enjoy working with young students. That's why I became a teacher – I didn't do it to make lots of money and all that, I didn't do it for that. That's what Oasis doesn't understand – the motivation."
John Bartlett, a former England Schoolboys and North West Counties rugby league coach, says he will get some work at weekends helping rugby coaches and will sign on with a supply agency.
Adam Worsley is also signing on with supply agencies.
Both Adam Worsley, John Bartlett and the other teaching staff had just six weeks to sort out their futures.
Joe Langley, of NASUWT the Teacher's Union says the machinations at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK will "wreck the place"