St Aloysius 1st July

After starting their second day of strike action last Thursday by picketing their school, teachers at St Aloysius College, Islington, took their battle for a school fit for a 21st century education to the HQ of building multinational Balfour Beatty in central London by protesting outside and briefly occupying the building's foyer. (Photo attached.)
 
While nearly thirty protesting teachers were holding placards containing the slogans "Balfour Bullies" and "Pupils Not Profits" a delegation handed in a letter to Ian Tyler, Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty (see below) calling on Balfour Beatty to drop threatened penalty payments on its contract to rebuild St Aloysius under the Building Schools for the Future programme so that the planned demolition of a perfectly good existing building can be stopped and pupils and school staff will not have to move in to a new building which head teacher, Tom Mannion, has called "inadequate", "unacceptable" and even "a disgrace".
 
The new building has a number of glaring deficiencies. Among the most glaring are Design and Technology rooms which are L-shaped - and therefore difficult for teachers to supervise effectively and too small to safely accommodate potentially hazardous power tools and machines with sufficient space around them.
 
At a recent public meeting - called to explain the teachers' case to parents by their union, the NUT - one parent, Joanna Haran, said, "I send my child to get educated, not electrocuted".
 
A much better solution - supported by school staff, many parents is the retention and refurbishment of the existing Block B which has larger  and better designed rooms than the new building. Local MP supports this option and leading members of the newly elected Labour council have expressed some sympathy with it.
 
The main stumbling block to this are Balfour Beatty's penalty payments.
 
Should local authorities be employing private companies, who put their shareholders' dividends before the interests of the children we teach, to rebuild their schools?
 
Next Tuesday 6 July, from 7 pm, St Aloysius teachers and support staff will be assembling outside Islington Town Hall in Upper Street, along with parents and other supporters within the local community to lobby the Council Executive. They would very much welcome members of other trades unions and community groups to come along to support them with their banners.
 
The following week, unless fully inclusive negotiations have resolved the rebuilding issue to the satisfaction of St Aloysius
  staff and parents before then, teachers at the school plan to escalate their action by striking for two days.
 
They are determined to win and will continue fighting for as long as it takes.
 
Opposite is a pic taken a few weeks ago, shortly after teachers at at St Aloysius refused to begin teaching one morning because ongoing building work had left the school in a dangerous condition.

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