Teachers at Liverpool's 'best school' vote for industrial action

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The Blue Coat School was ranked the best secondary school in Merseyside and 25th in the county in the Parent Power Guide league table.

Liverpool's Blue Coat School was named the Northwest Secondary School of the Year 2024 in the Sunday Times' most recent Parent Power Guide but staff at the grammar school have voted for industrial action over several grievances with management. The National Education Union (NEU) said it had a 100% turnout in the vote of its 70 members at the historic school, 93% of which backed action.

The NEU said members had previously voiced their discontent with the school's governance and leadership, citing a lack of effective action despite promises made to address important issues. These include an overwhelming workload and inadequate work allocation arrangements, ineffective methods of negotiation and consultation within the school, and safety cautions stemming from deteriorating premises and equipment, as well as management practices.

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Bora Oktas, Regional Officer of the NEU, stated: “Our members instructed their union in February to approach the employer for negotiations regarding their concerns. We sought resolution through a formal agreement that captured our members’ issues and potential solutions.

"Unfortunately, the employer rejected this agreement, although we had made it very clear to them that we are prepared to negotiate. Despite our best efforts to engage in constructive dialogue, the employer has consistently shunned meaningful discussions, leaving our members with no choice but to escalate it to a formal ballot for industrial action.”

A statement from the Blue Coat School said: "While clearly there are things that our staff want to raise, and we want to work collaboratively with the union to address, it is much harder to do this when the detail they are providing is very different from the information that we believe to be correct and accurate.

"What we can say is that, even as recently as the start of this week, we wrote to staff saying that we are committed to reviewing any concerns that have been presented and resolving any issues that may exist. This commitment remains."

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The Liverpool Blue Coat School. Image: Google Street ViewThe Liverpool Blue Coat School. Image: Google Street View
The Liverpool Blue Coat School. Image: Google Street View

The school, which was founded in 1708 and is a selective grammar school, is ranked 25th in the country in the Parent Power Guide, with 78.3% of students attaining GCSE A*/A/9/8/7. Ofsted rated the school 'Good' following their last inspection in 2022, saying: "Pupils are extremely proud to attend The Blue Coat School. Staff are caring and supportive ... Leaders have high expectations of what pupils can achieve."

Previous students include West Ham United first team coach Kevin Nolan, former Olympian Steve Parry and comedian Mitch Benn. The dates for industrial action are soon due to be decided.

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