Socialist Worker

Building the battle against privatised academies

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2286

The Anti Academies Alliance (AAA) held its annual general meeting in London last Saturday.

Tory education secretary Michael Gove wants to impose academy status on around 200 schools in Britain.

Delegates said this opened up the prospect of building much broader resistance because some people who aren’t against all academies would oppose forced ones.

Activists were boosted by the campaign at Downhills school (see below).

Melissa Benn, author and education campaigner, spoke at the meeting.

She said the government “employs the language of empowering the poor” to justify academies but that it is “empowering the affluent”.

She argued that the Tories’ education policies would increase segregation in education and that this was an “ideological” choice.

“This is privatisation with a long term for-profit agenda,” she said.

Alasdair Smith, national secretary of the AAA, said that the government was worried because fewer schools are applying to become academies. He said this was why Gove had turned to forced academies.

“Some schools will be scared,” he said. “But if we get campaigns going everywhere it will hit Gove hard.”

He added, “We need a mass movement in defence of comprehensive education.”

The meeting resolved to produce more campagining material against academies aimed at teachers.


Downhills school

Teachers and parents from Downhills school in Haringey, north London, told the Anti Academies Alliance meeting about their inspiring battle to stop a forced academy there.

Their campaign has boosted anti academy activists everywhere.

Governors met with representatives from the Department for Education (DfE) on 8 December. They asked them to delay the academy plans until their Ofsted inspection, due in two months, was over.

They also demanded a full and proper consultation.

Just four days later schools minister Lord Hill wrote to the school’s chair of governors.

He demanded “a timeline of activity which resulted in the governing body passing a resolution to become an academy, with a named sponsor agreed with the DfE, by no later than 27 January”.

If governors refuse, the government is threatening to replace them with an “interim executive board”. Three other schools in the borough face the same threat.

Karen, a parent, said she felt “utter powerlessness” when she first heard of the plan. But she said that after contacting the Anti Academies Alliance, she felt much more confident about fighting back.

Some 600 people attended a public meeting about Downhills on Monday of last week. Parents and teachers have mounted a legal challenge and plan to demonstrate in Haringey on Saturday 28 January.

Join the protest against academies in Haringey. Rally at West Green Common at 12 noon for a march to the threatened schools. Send messages of support to savedownhills@hotmail.co.uk and go to

www.hcaa.org.uk for updates and campaign materials


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Tue 17 Jan 2012, 18:12 GMT
Issue No. 2286
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