TEACHERS have picketed outside their school as they have staged a third day of strike action over fears of violence from pupils. 

Members of the NASUWT union at Caldicot School had staged two strike days in September and were joined on the picket line today (Wednesday, September 25) by members of the National Education Union (NEU). 

The comprehensive was only open today for staff who aren’t taking part in the industrial action. 

The NASUWT has said it has been involved in negotiations with the 1,300 pupil school about tackling bad behaviour, which it has said has put teachers and other pupils at risk, since 2019 but the threat of industrial action emerged in July when both unions confirmed they were balloting members. 

The school hit the headlines in June when parents and pupils had complained boys had been disciplined for wearing shorts to school during the prolonged period of hot weather, with senior councillors also criticising the school for a refusal to relax its rigid uniform rules. 

The NASUWT has called for Monmouthshire County Council to intervene to resolve the dispute with the school’s leadership. 

However in a statement the local authority has said it is “disappointed” efforts to resolve the issues haven’t succeeded and said the ongoing dispute is disrupting pupils’ education. 

A council spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the efforts to resolve this dispute through mediation and conciliation have not been successful.  

“This dispute is disrupting the learning of all of the pupils in Caldicot School and this is an unacceptable position.  

“As a council, we will continue to use our range of powers to address this situation to seek a sustainable resolution that benefits the learners at the centre of our considerations.” 

In July the county council’s Labour cabinet member for education, Martyn Groucutt, had acknowledged the dispute was likely to be ongoing this September, despite efforts from the council’s chief officer to work with the school and unions, but had said he hoped the summer holidays would “take some steam out of the situation”. 

A two-day review of the school at the end of the summer term, by Gwent’s Education Achievement Service which works with schools and councils, found shortcomings and that the behaviour of some pupils is putting learning at risk

Within weeks of pupils and teachers returning in September the NASUWT announced it would stage strikes on September 21 and 28 and the dispute has now escalated with NEU members joining them in a third day of action. 

The NASUWT has said the council should step in to resolve the dispute. Its Wales official Neil Butler said: “The governors seem to have given up. The local authority must take control – not stand by and watch.” 

NEU has said discussions between the school and unions have “failed to make any progress in addressing the school’s approach to behaviour, and addressing the adverse management practices” which it said are affecting the “health, safety and welfare” of teachers and pupils. 

Debbie Scott, NEU Cymru’s senior officer, said: “Our members in Caldicot Comprehensive feel they have no other choice but to take industrial action. No one takes the decision to go out on strike lightly, but by choosing to strike, our members are sending a clear message to the school that they will not tolerate threats to the health, safety and well-being of themselves or their pupils.”