SOME staff at a Catholic academy in Stockton are taking strike action on Thursday over "excessive workload burdens being placed on teachers".

Members of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, are holding the first of six planned days of strike action at Our Lady & St Bede Catholic Academy.

The union says the action has been called "in response to the employer’s failure to take steps to address the excessive workload of members and ensure they have a reasonable work/life balance".

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Our Lady & St Bede is the top performing school in the North East and is in the top one per cent of schools nationally for its performance.

“This immense achievement is a result of the hard work, skills and dedication of its staff, who care immensely about offering the best education for young people at the school.

“However, this level of performance cannot be sustained without effective measures to address the excessive workload burdens being placed on teachers which are adversely affecting their physical and mental health and undermining their ability to do their best for students.

“The NASUWT remains committed to further negotiations to seek to resolve the dispute.”

Wayne Broom, NASUWT National Executive Member for Teesside, said: “We have made every effort to secure a way forward through genuine negotiation, but the employer has failed to put forward any concrete proposals to deal with the issues around workload.

“Teacher wellbeing and professionalism directly affects the quality of education children receive and we hope parents and the public will understand that current working practices cannot simply be allowed to go unchallenged. It is deeply regrettable that disruption will be caused to pupils and parents.

“The NASUWT is more than willing to continue negotiations and urges the school to engage seriously with us to resolve this issue."

A spokesman for Our Lady and St Bede Catholic Academy, said: “Our focus remains, as always, the children and their right to the highest quality education.

"Our Lady and St Bede is one of the highest achieving schools in the country. Our pupils and their families are fully supportive of the standards we have set ourselves including a strong behaviour climate in the school where pupils feel safe, can learn and staff can teach.

"Teaching and support staff are exceptionally caring and gifted and we are proud of the working conditions all our staff enjoy.

"Our school will remain fully open to all pupils ensuring there is no impact on their learning or inconvenience to the families we serve.

"The school refutes the claim that the NASUWT is open to further negotiations. We have offered concrete proposals which have been rejected. In addition the NASUWT has offered us no clear alternative suggestions of what we can do to resolve this dispute. 

"Our Lady and St Bede is a fantastic school where last year almost 90 per cent of all pupils achieved both English and maths GCSE A*-C, a huge improvement on the 50 per cent of two years ago.

"We have all worked hard and will continue to do so, as a united, dedicated and highly professional body of staff, to create a school where each pupil is loved and is able to grow into the person God is calling them to be."