No teaching took place at Worthing High School in West Sussex today as members of the NUT and NASUWT unions struck against their school’s plans to convert into an academy.
Striking teachers were joined on a lively picket line by pupils and their parents. They have come together to form an action group to combat the privatisation move.
Other supporters included concerned local residents, anti-cuts campaigners and local councillors. Trade unionists visited the picket line in solidarity with scores of messages of support from across the country.
Strikers held a rally following their picket addressed by union officials, parents and a speaker from the Anti Academies Alliance.
Worthing High Academy Action Group (WHAGG) has carried out a sustained campaign since May to demanding the school carries out proper consultation and lets parents hear all sides of the debate.
Prospective parent Mark Slatter from the action group said, “We have held four public meetings to allow people the chance to get to grips with what this conversion could mean.
“On every occasion, governors have failed to respond to invitations and none have shown up to put forward their position.
“Governors have held their meetings behind closed doors and refused any representation from either staff or parents to put the opposing case. We’ve challenged them on this issue—but have been met with a stonewall response.
“We have over 500 signatures through our online and paper petitions which have been handed to governors. We aim to make it as difficult as possible for the school to pursue the conversion.”
Worthing High’s governing body is chaired by businessman Tony Cohen. He described those striking over public sector pensions on 30 November last year as public sector “lousy lemmimgs” and said they “should be ashamed”.
Teachers picketing today did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal from the school’s head. One NUT member told Socialist Worker, “The majority of staff and parents strongly oppose an academy here. It’s wrong for the school and wrong for education.
“We have a deep belief in state education as a public service not a business. If they don’t respond after today then we’re going to have to extend the strike.”
This is a vital battle for everyone in Sussex and beyond who wants to oppose Tory attempts to privatise of our children’s education.