TEACHERS walked out on strike in a row over an academy trust taking over their school.

Staff at Peacehaven Community School started the seven-day action because they want to stop the conversion of the school into an academy.

There are fears the school’s curriculum and the hiring of teachers will be entirely decided by Swale Academy Trust, which is set to take on the school.

The trust has been backed by Conservative-run East Sussex County Council who say it will help the school to improve.

That is despite Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Lewes Conservative MP Maria Caulfield sending a joint letter to council leader Keith Glazier calling for the planned conversion to be stopped.

Now the National Education Union (NEU), which represents staff at the school, has staged the latest walkout.

NEU secretary Phil Clarke said: “The casual dismissal our members reported when Jon Whitcombe, chief executive of the Swale Trust was asked about the huge gender pay gap at the organisation is just another concern we have.

“As he earns more than £200,000 per year we would hope he would have some plan to address the fact women in his trust are paid 52p for every £1 men earn.”

The union says more than 300 parents have signed postcards in one morning to be sent directly to council leader Nigel Enever, who himself represents Peacehaven.

They are asking him to support the demand that the community should have a say in the future of the school.

NEU claims the county council is citing a consultation more than two years ago, which had just ten responses, as an example of support for the plans.

Parent Clare Swain said: “The fact that the councillors at the county council are not even replying to the union is disgraceful.

“No one talking to parents today could doubt that they overwhelmingly want such important decisions about their school to be taken by governors here, not those imposed from County Hall.

“This is all that is being asked for to suspend the strikes.”

Previously an East Sussex County Council spokesman said Swale Academy Trust had been “instrumental” in the schools ‘good’ Ofsted rating last year,

The authority said: “It remains our view and view of the Interim Executive Board (IEB) that this is the right course of action to secure strong leadership and continued improvements at the school.”

Further walk-outs are planned next week, starting on Wednesday.