Children led a march in north London today, Saturday, against academies.
Up to 1,000 children, parents, teachers and others joined the demonstration in Haringey. Tory education secretary Michael Gove wants to force four primary schools in the borough to become privately-run academies.
No one on the protest believed Gove’s rhetoric about “raising standards”.
Alison Lloyd is a parent at Downhills school, where the most high-profile campaign against a forced academy has been launched.
She told Socialist Worker, “Gove says his plans are about standards. I think it’s really about privatisation.
“I don’t want big business running schools. Schools shouldn’t be about making profit.”
Lauren Dobie is a parent at Nightingale primary school, another that faces a forced academy in the borough. She told Socialist Worker, “The government is trying to privatise everything.
“We’ve had loads of cuts but we need more funding. I’m worried that an academy would change the admissions code. Our school is inclusive – I don’t think academies are.”
Lots of people came from outside Haringey to support campaigners there. Marchers brought NUT union banners from Hackney, Waltham Forest, Camden, Ealing, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, Islington, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark.
Other trade unionists came too. Philip Lewis is vice-chair of Camden Unison. He said, “Gove thinks people will just give in. But people aren’t giving in – over academies or the cuts.
“We’ve got Labour supporting the cuts so there’s no opposition in parliament. There’s only one route left – we need a massive movement of ordinary people.”
And Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, came to show the union’s support for the campaign.
He told Socialist Worker, “Gove is not interested in school improvement – he’s interested in privatisation. The fight at Downhills has exposed how sharply ideological the government’s education policy is.”
Children leading the march chanted, “Academy – calamity!” and “Get Gove out!”. Demonstrators rallied before singing a song that children at Downhills had helped to compose.
For more on the ongoing campaigns against academies, see next week’s Socialist Worker.