THE academy trust which runs a school where teachers went on strike in a row over lesson observations insists the measures were necessary to improve standards. Eight teachers took part in a walkout at Winterbourne Boys' Academy yesterday (Tuesday), angered at what the NUT describes as "heavy-handed" tactics employed by the Platanos Trust, which took over the school in April. Michael Rush, a consultant representing Platanos, told the Advertiser increased scrutiny was needed in order to improve the school as quickly as possible. "When we took over in April the school was in special measures and some of the teaching was inadequate," he said. "We put a lot of time into the staff and obviously we have to do regular monitoring based on that training. "It is designed as a constructive process and it's normal practice where we come from. Obviously it's going to be quite intensive because we have got to make some changes very quickly." Mr Rush said he was "surprised" that the teachers had gone on strike, pointing out that five of them have decided to leave at the end of the school year. He said: "If you are leaving a school and you only have three weeks or so until the end of term, I'm bemused as to what they see is the purpose of taking strike action. "If they were staying there and they had a grievance they thought would affect them next year then it would be more understandable. "As for the others, I have been down [to the school] and worked with the staff and they were very receptive to the input we were giving them." Winterbourne remained open on Tuesday by drafting in staff from the trust's parent school, Platanos College in Lambeth. While talks between the parties will now resume, the school's position on observations is unlikely to soften significantly. "We appreciate it's not going to be a comfortable process but it's necessary," said Mr Rush. "One of the things Platanos knows about is school improvement. We know what it takes."
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