Over 500 students, parents, staff and governors marched to Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday of this week.
The vibrant protest was in opposition to plans to close down Wisewood and Myers Grove secondary schools in Hillsborough, and replace them with a new trust school. The council has not even indicated who the new trust governors will be. All people know is that they will not be locally accountable.
Key organiser Karen Mee is both a teacher and parent in Hillsborough. She explained that she was inspired by the Anti-Academies Alliance conference held in London last November. “I hope that our local group will affiliate to the alliance when we meet again next Sunday”, she said.
Community activist Darren Webb told a rally on the Town Hall steps that there is no good reason to break up two good, small, local state schools. He stressed that there had been no consultation with parents prior to the announcement of the council’s intentions.
Speaking for the Sheffield National Union of Teachers branch Ben Morris explained the two main reasons why it opposes trust schools. “Firstly there is no evidence that they work,” he said.
“Secondly, they put control of public resources into private hands.' Ben went on to highlight the new split in schools at 14 between “academic” and “vocational” schools, which will give less choice to students.
Messages of support were read out from Camden, Ealing and Wakefield NUT branches.
Speakers from local campaigns to save bus services and the Blood Transfusion service gave their support and solidarity. Opposition Lib-Dem councillors also pledged support, though their record in Councils where they are in power, such as Islington, should not convince anyone. A Green Party speaker pointed out the probable large increase in travel for many kids if they did not get into the proposed single new school.
Maxine Bowler from Sheffield Respect said, “If you want to know what a good Citizenship class is like just look at the brilliant students demonstrating today.”
Maxine went on to compare the effects of marketisation in education with what's happened to the NHS. She also called on the ruling Labour group to pay more attention to their constituents than Downing Street. “There's too much spin and too many lies. But this campaign can win!”
Please send urgent messages of support and requests for speakers to: Karen Mee at: firstname.lastname@example.org