So do we think that this one was a failure ?

One of the country's flagship city academies is facing strike action over the threat of job losses.
The teaching union NASUWT is balloting its members over plans to cut jobs and introduce new contracts at the Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough.

The union has also hit out at the level of persistent bad behaviour amongst pupils, which it claims has left some teachers afraid to go to work.

The trust which runs the academy says it is working to improve the situation.

The independent academy, which is largely state-funded, has formed a "federation" with a nearby college in an effort to ease a cash shortfall.

The academy trust has admitted that pupils at the school present "particular challenges", but stressed it was no longer in dispute with the unions over the specific issue of pupil behaviour.

Union officials claim the academy wants to cut staff from 98 to just over 78.

Electronically tagged

But Sue Percival, from the NASUWT, warned that pupil behaviour was still an important issue for members.

She said: "We have low level indiscipline, answering back, defiance and refusal to work. We also have pupils creating a disturbance in and out of class and going on to verbal and even physical abuse."

Ms Percival said that at a recent meeting of 40 teachers, 23 said they were frightened to go to school because of indiscipline.

She said: "Some of my members are very, very frightened."

Joe McCarthy, chairman of the trust which runs the academy, said: "We have some behavioural issues within the school, but we need to be clear that this is not an ordinary school.

"We have got 300 kids who are emotionally and behaviourally disturbed. We've got 30 who have special educational needs, we've got 10 asbos and three who are electronically tagged."

'Tough issues'

The academy opened in September 2002 through the merger of Keldholme and Langbaurgh schools, but initially operating out of the two former school buildings.

The academy has recently appointed a new principal to tackle what he described as "tough issues" at the site.

Martin Lang took over from Eddie Brady in April following his resignation last year.

The academy has also been criticised for the high number of exclusions.

The ballot at Unity Academy comes on the same day that the government is setting up an expert group to advise it on how to "deliver a culture of respect" in all schools.