AN ACADEMY is refusing to pay staff who taught revision classes over the Easter holiday. Five teachers at Winterbourne Boys' Academy, in Thornton Heath, gave up a week of the school break to help pupils with their studies, for which they thought they would be paid £500. However, Platanos Trust, the organisation which runs the academy, has refused to pay them because the revision sessions were organised before it took over the school at the start of April. It claims the responsibility lies with Croydon Council, but the authority says Platanos is liable. The matter is being pursued by solicitors from the NUT. The dispute follows strike action at the school on three consecutive weeks, with staff walking out in a row over lesson observations. The NUT says staff have been subjected to "punitive" assessments on an almost daily basis, with little to no feedback. Platanos argues the measures are necessary to improve teaching at the school which was placed into special measures by Ofsted in October 2012. On Tuesday, union members picketed Platanos Academy, the trust's parent school in Lambeth. They called on representatives from Platanos to reopen negotiations, but left empty handed. Winterbourne Junior Boys School became a Platanos academy on April 1. From April 7 to 11 - the first week of the Easter holiday - five teachers did five days of revision classes. When the money did not appear in their April or May pay cheques they were told to contact the local authority, which said the responsibility lay with Platanos. The NUT became involved and issued a solicitor's letter to the trust. Platanos replied that claims it was liable were "patently untrue" and suggested the staff contact the school's former executive head teacher Tony Ahmet. The Advertiser approached Platanos Trust for a comment. None was forthcoming, though a consultant representing the organisation sent our office a copy of letter it had sent to the NUT, which named the teachers affected by the dispute. Dave Harvey, secretary of Croydon NUT, said: "As this matter is in the hands of NUT solicitors, I am unable to comment." A council spokesman said: "Winterbourne became part of the Platanos Trust on 1 April, prior to the school Easter holidays. The council is, therefore, not liable for the costs incurred during the Easter break."
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