Teachers at a secondary school in Greenwich have gone on strike in defence of a psychology teacher who faces being sacked after speaking out over the alleged improper use of Covid tests.

Kirstie Paton, a teacher at the John Roan School for 20 years, is facing dismissal at a disciplinary hearing today (April 30) after speaking out about health and safety at the school.

So a number of teachers and union reps have walked out on the eve of the teacher's disciplinary hearing, and have threated further strikes if the employer "goes ahead with their threat to dismiss her."

The NEU has led calls to strike in defence of Kirstie, who is a NEU co-representative at the Greenwich school, and say that they have been "left with no choice" but to defend their rep.

Strike outside John Roan School in Greenwich

Strike outside John Roan School in Greenwich

The blog reportedly promoted lateral flow tests as an alternative to staff and students who come into contact with Covid-19 infections being sent home to isolate.

Lateral flow tests produce a high level of false negatives, but before Christmas, when Covid-19 was at its highest, the Government had proposed they be used in secondary schools, including in a pilot at United Learning Schools.

The union said it was suggested that school staff and pupils should run the test sites, and Kirstie raised concerns about the risk of using existing school staff to run the sites.

Kirstie now faces dismissal after she called out the problem on social media in response to blog encouraging the use of LFT tests over isolation.

Tim Woodcock, the NEU rep for Greenwich, said they had no choice but to defend their rep for speaking out, or else leave every other rep vulnerable and scared to speak out.

"UL want to victimise Kirstie so they can intimidate staff into silence and deprive our members of an effective and dedicated union rep.

"I think they'd rather Kirstie wasn't there,which is wrong as she's been a professional servant to the union and the school."


Kirstie Paton at the strike outside John Roan School in Greenwich

The NEU has led calls to strike in defence of Kirstie, and say UL want to "push through job cuts and unsafe practices" and "couldn't care less that will also deprive students of an inspirational teacher."

Stephanie Wilson-Black, a parent, said she strongly supported Kirstie against what seemed like "bullying and shocking behaviour" from the school.

Parent Stephanie Wilson-Black

Parent Stephanie Wilson-Black

The 42-year-old said the psychology teacher had been "fantastic" for her daughter, and was an asset to the school.

"She is a lovely genuine person, and the children learn from her because she cares about her teaching and properly engages with the kids.

"I think it's disgusting they want to get rid of someone who helps and nurtures the students like Kirstie does, and it's really sad how she's being treated for being outspoken."

Strike outside John Roan School in Greenwich

Strike outside John Roan School in Greenwich

The school has been run by academy chain United Learning since 2019 after a campaign against the academisation led by a coalition of NEU members, with Kirstie playing a leading role.

The NEU added that they "want Kirstie out of the way so they can have a free hand making job cuts."

"For UL schools are a business to be run as cheaply as possible and trade union reps are an obstacle to be removed. NEU members won’t stand for that and if that means more strikes to defend our reps like Kirstie then so be it," said Mr Woodcock.

John Roan School has been contacted for comment.