Teachers are fighting a key battle against one of the Tory government’s flagship policies in schools across Britain.
Teachers in four schools were set to strike this week against plans to turn their schools into privately-run academies. Three strikes involved schools in Lancashire while another took place at a school in Coventry.
The strikes, and the support won by teachers from parents and students, reveal the level of opposition to academies.
Teachers in both the NUT and NASUWT unions struck together at Tile Hill Wood school on Tuesday of this week. NUT members had previously struck for one day last month.
Chris Denson, the NUT rep at the school, said there was an “incredible turnout” on the picket line.
“Around 60 teachers came to picket,” he told Socialist Worker. “The mood is very positive.
“The strike is a show of strength and people are confident to carry on fighting.”
Teachers in the NASUWT union at Bowland High School in Grindleton, east Lancashire, struck on Tuesday of this week, along with those at Garstang High School.
NASUWT members at St Christopher’s High School in Accrington, east Lancashire, were set to strike on Thursday—and action could spread to other schools.
John Girdley, an NASUWT national executive member covering the Lancashire area, told Socialist Worker, “We’re hoping these strikes will get the ball rolling against academies.
“Some headteachers portray academies as inevitable and say that all schools are moving towards academy status. That’s not true. There are around 650 schools in Lancashire and only five or six have converted to academy status so far.
“Most teachers are fundamentally opposed to academies, they potentially put their future careers in jeopardy. My intention is to escalate action against them wherever our members are willing.”
Teachers in the NUT union have won a ballot for strikes at Garstang High School and plan to come out after Easter. The NUT is also balloting members at Bowland school.
And as in other areas, parents are backing the fight against academies.
Parents joined picket lines in Liverpool on Wednesday of last week when teachers in the NUT at Shorefields school in Dingle struck against academy plans.
Kelie Kavanagh, who has a 14-year old son at the school, said, “I don’t think turning it into an academy will have a good effect on the children.”
The strikes, and the widespread support they are winning, have clearly rattled governors and headteachers. Garstang chair of governors Tom Ibison last week accused teachers of “holding a shotgun to our heads”.
Unions should escalate and coordinate action against academies and build a strong, united fight that can win.