Socialist Worker

Derby celebrates win over academy plans

by Dave Wilkinson, DerNASUWT branch secretary
Issue No. 2135

Campaigners celebrate the news on Tuesday of last week that they have defeated plans to turn Sinfin community school in an academy

Campaigners celebrate the news on Tuesday of last week that they have defeated plans to turn Sinfin community school in an academy

Campaigners in Derby won an important victory last week when the council withdrew plans to transform Sinfin community school into an academy school.

Academies allow big business to run education.

There were several factors behind our success.

Firstly, we took the campaign into the wider labour movement by arguing that academies are anti-working class.

Sinfin community school is a working class school.

Local authorities split pupils into five groups from the most deprived to the least.

At Sinfin, 66 percent of pupils come from the most deprived and less than 1 percent from the least deprived.

It’s not the fault of Sinfin community school that pupils do not achieve the same as pupils in other schools.

Academies are not an attempt to raise standards, but part of a wider attack on working people.

There is an attempt by New Labour to take away what people have achieved in the past.

Our campaign won Derby trades council to a position of opposing the academy.

Industrial action was also crucial – we would not have won without strike action.

We took seven days of strike action and kept action short of a strike going for eight months.

At the start the school management and the governors were in favour of the academy.

But by the end of the campaign they opposed it.

When the governors changed their minds they wrote to the parents to explain why.

They cited “overwhelming staff opposition” that would lead to “lengthy and protracted disputes”.

We built as wide a coalition as possible, involving parents, teachers, trade unionists and others.

Hundreds were involved in the campaign, either by attending public meetings, signing petitions or taking part in the consultation.

Out of 883 responses to the local authority consultation, 793 opposed the proposal – 107 parents, over 300 pupils and 237 members of the public.

The numbers supporting the academy were 18 parents, eight pupils and 26 others. Less than 6.5 percent of those who responded supported it.

Having a non-sectarian approach among the unions was also absolutely crucial.

If our campaign had involved just one union it would have been far less effective.

We received a great deal of practical support and solidarity from other trade unions and the Anti Academies Alliance campaign group.

There’s a debate about what will happen now. The local authority may put forward plans to turn Sinfin into a trust school.

But there’s no doubt that we’re in a far better position to continue campaigning to keep Sinfin as a community school.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 20 Jan 2009, 18:49 GMT
Issue No. 2135
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.