Talks at the conciliatory service ACAS are taking place over Easter, between teaching unions and the Trust that runs Ryde Academy.

Seven organisations, including Unite, NEU, NASUWT and NAHT, are in dispute with the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), says the GMB Union, over job cuts, low wages and outsourcing.

However, AET says it does not recognise those comments and wants to resolve the issue as soon as it can.

Until September, AET also ran the Isle of Wight’s former Sandown Bay Academy. It reopened at the start of the academic year under a new organisation, with a new name. AET was in charge when the West Wight primary school Weston Academy controversially closed.

The Trust also runs schools as far afield as London and Birmingham.

The GMB said,

“Unions have been forced into this step by AET’s refusal to engage in meaningful negotiation over a variety of issues. These include AET’s unwillingness to provide essential financial information on its plans for its schools, outsourcing of school services, holding down of teacher pay progression, failure to tackle workload and cuts to frontline school support staff.

“Workload across the trust has increased to such an extent staff are becoming ill – despite repeated warnings, say the unions.

“AET is also refusing to release details of the recent financial support  it received from the government, including the full conditions it signed up to in return for this money.

“Questions are now even being asked in Parliament about this funding deal and the lack of transparency around it.”

In response AET said,

“We are disappointed to have received notice from the unions, and have immediately contacted ACAS to set up talks over the Easter period with a view to resolving these issues as soon as possible.

“We do not recognise many of the comments that are made, and hope that in the interests of our pupils and staff that these will be resolved quickly.

“Everything we do at AET is driven by our core commitment to providing an education that helps our pupils go on to lead remarkable lives. Over the last two years, everything bar the name above the door has changed – from leadership and school improvement through to governance and financial controls.

“These changes are having a positive impact on our schools and our pupils and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we are delivering the education that local families deserve.”