Staff at King Henry VIII and Bablake vote for strike action over controversial Coventry Schools merger - The Coventry Observer

19th Aug, 2022

Staff at King Henry VIII and Bablake vote for strike action over controversial Coventry Schools merger

Catherine Vonledebur 8th May, 2021 Updated: 8th May, 2021

THE CAMPAIGN to stop the controversial proposed merger of Coventry’s two leading independent schools – King Henry VIII and Bablake – is gathering pace with planned industrial action and fund-raising to cover legal costs.

Members of the NASUWT teachers’ union, within the Coventry School Foundation, have voted in favour of taking action, including striking.

Of the 120 members balloted, 107 were returned with 79 opting for industrial action over a ‘failure to consult, restructuring including job loss and detriment to members’ terms and conditions, leading to adverse impact on the wellbeing of members’.

Legal ‘fighting fund’

Last week a GoFundMe page set up to raise £50,000 towards legal action against the merger saw £6,000 pledged within just 48 hours of the launch.

The fund-raising effort was started by Action4 Henry’s and Bablake campaigners who include former head teacher of King Henry VIII School George Fisher, parents, staff, alumni and other interested parties.

Mr Fisher, spokesperson for the group, said he was ‘delighted’ with the initial response.

“We already have sufficient funds to instruct a Tier 1 law firm, and to advise us on possible approaches to quash the merger.

“Clearly we don’t yet know the outcome of the Charity Commission’s investigation, but in the event that the Commission’s ruling does not prevent the merger from happening, and if the CSF is unwilling to modify its proposal satisfactorily, then we have everything in place to contest the proposal through litigation.”

He added he was grateful to everyone who had contributed.

The action group stated if the merger did not go ahead the cash raised would go into a bursary fund to support young people from Coventry and the surrounding being educated at both schools.

95pc parents against it

Coventry School Foundation’s planned merger will see pupils aged six to 11 based at the former KHVIII campus and secondary pupils, aged 11 to 18, based at Bablake starting from September.

A recent survey found 95 per cent of parents of nearly 600 pupils within Coventry School Foundation were against the merger.

In response Andrew Wright, the Project Lead, Bablake and King Henry VIII School, said:

“I have seen the results of the survey and am obviously disappointed with the findings. I know the restructure has created strong feelings.

“Bablake and King Henry VIII schools have proudly served Coventry and the wider region for over 1,150 years combined, so the passion for the schools is to be both expected and something for us to be proud of.

“Throughout that time our schools have been on a continuous journey of adaptation, responding to the varying demands and circumstances of their time.

“Then, as now, decisions have been taken based on balancing the educational needs of current families, with the imperative to be sustainable for generations of families to come.

Heads ‘available’

“People’s views are incredibly important to us. That’s why we have held meetings and surgeries, and continue to have many individual conversations and correspondences with families and others.

“Our headteachers continue to be available should parents want to speak to them directly.”

Coventry School Foundation is currently awaiting the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry by the Charity Commission.

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