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Council Leader condemns striking teachers as Cabinet votes for school merger  

Members of a teacher's union have been accused of using unacceptable language in to express their displeasure at a decision to amalgamate their school, Village Infants School with a Church of England school.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting today, Councillor Liam Smith, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: "I am extremely disappointed at the language used by members of the NUT and some of their supporters.

"I am a committed Roman Catholic and active trade unionist but will have to draw the line when language and information being put out, serves no purpose but to set communities against each other. The Church of England has been and will continue to be a valued partner in the provision of education in this borough."

A total of 14 teachers at Village Infants School took action to protest plans to amalgamate Village Infants and William Ford Church of England Junior School into a voluntary aided Church of England school. Further strike action is planned for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

Councillor Liam Smith continued, "This is not about people's right to take strike action. I am not against that, but when some of the information put out deliberately sets out to mislead then I think that is crossing the line.

"Both the NUT and parents have been assured that no child will be treated unfairly because they do not attend church. This assurance has also been provided by the governing body at William Ford Junior School that this will not happen."

The Cabinet today agreed to the amalgamation of William Ford Church of England Junior School and Village Infant School with effect from 1 September 2012.

Council Rocky Gill, Cabinet Member for Education and Finance speaking after the meeting said: "I welcome the decision and would like to reassure both staff and parents as I said during the consultation that their concerns will be addressed. No child will be disadvantaged by this decision.

"In the current economic climate and with our well publicised campaign for more school places, we continue to ensure that all children have a school place in the borough. With the difficulty in getting the funds we need for our schools, sharing buildings and non teaching staff might be another sensible option to consider."

For more information please contact Von Edomi on 020 8227 2022.