Video: ‘Save Davo, save PE’ – Parents and children stage protest outside York school

The protest at Joseph Rowntree School. Photograph: Jack Gevertz

This was the highly unusual scene in York on Thursday (July 14) as parents and students protested outside a school’s gates.

The group assembled at Joseph Rowntree School to voice their anger over plans to cut the number of hours of PE on the timetable and the threat to make popular teacher Bill Davis redundant.

YorkMix broke the story on Monday that a petition had been organised to save Mr Davis’s job.

The Facebook page Bill Davis Needs You now has more than 2,100 members.

Chanting “Save Davo” the group made their feelings noisily known in the after-school demo.

One of them was Debi Browne, who has children at the school. She said: “PE is a massive part of my children’s education. The fact they are reducing it to two hours per fortnight and then taking part in major redundancies I believe is an absolute travesty.

“I would like to ask the governors to re-consider their position regarding the PE reform that is going on by in turn doing that we hope to save Bill Davis’s job.”

Two young people with the banner
Two young people with the banner

Louise Shore, whose daughter is in year 8, said: “My daughter wouldn’t be in this school if it wasn’t for Mr Davis’ pastoral care. She had a lot of bullying last year and at the beginning of this year and he was the only teacher who stood by her.

“It is unfair that they are doing away with PE. It is not a lot of time. They’re just getting rid of an absolutely brilliant teacher who is the core of the school.”

Today’s protest at the school comes after a similar demonstration was held by the pupils yesterday.

One of those protestors, Debi’s son Billy said: “He [Mr Davis] deserves a lot more than this. He’s helped with personal problems and he’s helped me through my PE.

“He’s got an effect on people that other teachers don’t have. He’s confident, he’s got time for you, and he talks to you. Those are the teachers we need. We hope things change for him.”

Still in discussions

Bill Davis
Bill Davis

The head teacher of Jo Ro, Richard Crane, sent a letter to parents today reassuring them that they were hoping to find a new position for Mr Davis.

Mr Crane wrote that following the decision to boost the hours given to subjects like English and maths, and to reduce PE time, the staff at risk of redundancy were notified at the end of May. He wrote:

Since that time, all other employment opportunities have been discussed with colleagues at risk of redundancy. This is an ongoing process, and we are still in discussions with the colleague who is at risk of redundancy.

There are still vacancies which need to be filled for September 2016, which as part of the normal process have been passed to the colleague concerned prior to them being advertised in an attempt to mitigate redundancy which is always our primary objective.

But Debi said: “Bill has been offered new jobs such as a music teacher and receptionist which I and the parents believe is an actual insult: 30 years’ experience as a PE teacher and a head of year, it is shocking. It is absolutely shocking.”