Socialist Worker

Vibrant anti-academy lobby as teachers ballot to strike

by Lee Billingham
Issue No. 2307

Around 60 parents, staff, pupils and local people attended a loud and lively lobby of a governors’ meeting at Worthing High School in West Sussex last week.

The protest was organised by the Worthing High Academy Action Group, formed in opposition to the school’s intention to convert to academy status.

Protesters chanted continuously for two hours outside the governors’ meeting and drove their cars in and out of the school car park hooting their horns.

Parents parked their cars outside the school covered in anti-academy messages. Pupils tied purple ribbons to gates and fences.

The school’s head, Alison Beer, has pushed hard to parents and pupils the supposed benefits of conversion in a “consultation” process.

Parents say the consultation has been undemocratic and way too short. Parents and teachers haven’t been able to debate the issue or hear an alternative view.

The governors voted to push ahead with conversion, but the battle is far from over.

Workers in the NUT union voted by 97 percent in favour of strikes against the move in an indicative ballot and are now formally balloting.

Members in the ATL, NASUWT and Unison unions there are expected to ballot too.

One teacher said, “The parents’ opposition has inspired us to stand up too”.

The Action Group is growing and looking to launch a legal challenge.

Parent Corianda Sweetman said, “There are a lot of very frustrated people who feel this has been rushed through. We don’t feel like we are being listened to. They think that this will just go away but it won’t.”

The lesson from successful opposition to academy conversions elsewhere—such as at Varndean School in nearby Brighton—is that a big, vibrant campaign uniting workers, parents and local people can stop the privatisation of our kids’ schools.

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Tue 12 Jun 2012, 19:45 BST
Issue No. 2307
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