Justice for the Halesowen Four

Justice for the Halesowen Four

Discontent has been brewing at Halesowen College, Birmingham, following the summary dismissal of no fewer than four Maths teachers in the last month, including Dave Muritu, the College’s UCU Branch Secretary. The College has seen pickets, lobbies and widespread condemnation for its persecution of teachers, seemingly solely for raising issues of genuine concern to do with their students’ educations.

The College management’s reasons for the sudden firings remain unclear. They point to the apparently poor performance of the lecturers, despite the fact that their performances were above the national average, and the College itself rated all four as ‘good’ teachers in its own internal observation system. Management also accepts that there is no case for gross misconduct for any of the Halesowen Four, and they also failed to follow both their own disciplinary procedure and that of ACAS, the work disputes mediations body.

The sacked teachers themselves speculate as to their role in highlighting a number of issues which had made their work increasingly difficult, such as “refusal to pay for specialist cover (in spite of a huge surplus) for times of long term sickness and paternity leave, teaching in two different classes in two different rooms at the same time [and] groups being pushed together into one room even though they are supposed to be covering different material”.

It certainly seems unlikely that the four teachers – having received Grade 2 ratings when observed, in a system that has been criticised for its readiness to give Grade 3 ratings (average) – were targeted for being exceptionally poor, or indeed that removing them from their posts midway through the academic year (mid-term in the case of three of the four) will actually assist in the education of their students.

Indeed, as well as attending the lively pickets outside the College gates on cold, wet Monday mornings and joining the almost 10,000 signatures on the petition for the Halesowen Four’s reinstatement, many former students of Muritu et al in the Maths Department have emerged on Facebook to emphasise the quality of Muritu’s classes. This one, for example, from Claire Davies-Thompson, presents a very different picture to that of the College, which claimed that the students in the classes of the four teachers weren't "reaching their potential":

“My son who is a diagnosed epileptic & also has slight autism gets very stressed & struggles with sudden change! He took to Dave immediately as they both have such a shared passion for Maths! He was on line for an A/A* in the coming exams but now due to this we really worry this may not be achieved bearing in mind it is Dave's excellent teaching skills who have bought Ben to that stage! He needs to be reinstated immediately it is ludicrous that kids are going to suffer due to this as are exam results!”

The Halesowen Four case is another example of a growing tendency in education to use internal observation as a disciplinary tool; a means of breaking union branches and removing critical and principled staff.

The campaign has called for supporters to register their disgust with College Principal Keith Bates at KBATE@halesowen.ac.uk or write to him at:

Keith Bate
Principal
Halesowen College
Whittingham Road
Halesowen
B63 3NA

More info can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/reinstatedavemuritu/?ref=ts&fref=ts and here: http://justiceforhalesowenfour.wordpress.com

Comments

Ed
Jan 16 2013 08:50

Yo, so I turned this into a News article so that more people would see it.. nice one for sticking it up! Keep us updated! smile

Jason Cortez
Jan 16 2013 19:26

Thanks.

Jason Cortez
Jan 17 2013 09:38

National Day of Action, Friday 18 Jan for the Halesowen Four!

This Friday we are asking everyone to make a stand for justice and trade unionism and protest at the sackings of the Halesowen Four. Whatever you do, take a picture or video and post it on the Facebook page on Friday.

We have created this Facebook group to build support for the Halesowen Four and to demand their immediate reinstatement. This is a public group so that we can publicise our campaign across Facebook.
Also you will find ; poster, donation form, paper petition, leaflet for day of action and an appeal for solidarity for trade union branches.

If you are involved in any activities to support the Halesowen Four on the national day of action this Friday, please post pictures, videos and stories to this page.

Jason Cortez
Jan 22 2013 01:29

A quick update in what is a busy week.
There was a national day of action on Jan 18 with a picket of the college, a deluge of e-mails to the principal Kieth Bate telling him what we think of his decision (feel free to let him know your thoughts KBATE@halesowen.ac.uk) and people sending messages and images of support

Sarabjit (one of the four sacked maths lecturers) wrote:
:thank you to all those involved, it is really heartwarming in this dreadful situation. The pictures just made me choke.

and making donations for the fighting fund and Tweeting the college @halesowencoll with the hash-tag #JusticefortheHalesowen4 (please continue to do this over the week). The ballot for strike action also opened on Friday and closes this Friday Jan 25.

And on Saturday, Dave and Rhiannon Lockley (acting branch secretary) came down to London to address the NUT London Regional Reps meeting, In the end they were allowed to attend but not to speak directly to the meeting, with only a mealy mouthed announcement from Alex Kenny at the end. At which point it was pointed out that they were actually there and they stood to thunderous applause. We had leafleted the whole room by then so everyone knew about the case. We had organised a strategy and social at the Euston Flyer which was attended by about forty folks throughout the day.

Rhiannon Lockley wrote:
Great meeting people from London UCU, London NUT and SolFed yesterday, thanks all for coming along to give us your support

David Muritu's appeal is on Thursday Jan 24 at 1.30pm. A lobby of the college is planned.

And on Saturday 26 Jan the college is having its Open Day and there is a national call out to join the march and rally to expose Halesowen College for its treatment of workers.

To keep up to date check out the blog and Facebook page

Jason Cortez
Jan 23 2013 13:13

For those not on Facebook details of the Rally and March for Justice for the Halesowen4 on 26 Jan are here

Jason Cortez
Jan 25 2013 22:04

David Muritu's appeal was heard yesterday and today he was informed that his dismissal had been upheld. Not a surprising result but still disappointing. The next appeals will be heard on the 6 Feb.

Rhiannon Lockley wrote:
Rough day for us all today - totally unsurprising but also disappointing for the branch and our many supporters to see the dismissal reinforced. There has been a press statement and college-wide management dissemination of the same statement, which has been focused on an attack on Dave's career. The statement relies on selective presentation of information and is utterly lacking in any attempt to justify why management decisions have been made that have left a whole department understaffed and students needs neglected in favour of an unspent surplus. We will keep doing what we are doing, which is sticking together for justice.

Indeed the management have really gone on the offensive with an article in the Halesowen News attacking Dave and this one in the Halesowen Express and Star claiming there is a staff petition against the disruption to the Open Day tomorrow. This signals an escalation in the struggle and tomorrow's rally will boost the confidence of the UCU members who hopefully have balloted strongly for strike action. You can all help by more tweets on the twitter @halesowencoll with the hashtags #justiceforthehalesowen4 and #reinstatedavidmuritu! We need to flood them!

Choccy
Jan 25 2013 23:12

See yous tomorrow!