Parents defeated school's discriminatory test plan
My daughter’s secondary school became an academy several years ago. Recently the school’s head teacher attempted to introduce a new admissions system called “fair banding”.
This means selection by test results for 11 year olds. Parents were assured at the time of academy conversion that there were no plans to change admissions procedures.
The school is in a multicultural part of Sheffield with a community of relatively newly arrived Roma families as well as more established minority groups.
Parents immediately organised to oppose the plan, with local Pakistani mums making sure that Roma families were aware of the implications for their children.
This was important as the test would discriminate against those with English as a second language, as well as being stressful for all children.
The campaign presented petitions and letters to the council and gainined publicity through local media. After just over a week of campaigning the head backed down from the plan and withdrew the consultation on the issue.
This was a significant victory for a number of reasons.
It shows how ordinary working class parents can unite across boundaries of race—even after racial tensions in the area had been stoked by David Blunkett’s comments about the Roma community.
It stopped a precedent being set in terms of selection by ability in local secondary schools.
And finally it demonstrates that it is possible to fight and win over educational issues even within academies.
Parents are continuing to stay in touch with each other. We are keeping a close eye to make sure that nothing like this happens again.
Julia Shergold, Sheffield
Enemy at home - yes, but don't parrot Russia
It’s 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell, but still the legacy of Stalinism casts a shadow on the left.
Liberals delude themselves that Ukraine is a ‘‘people’s revolution’’, when one ruling clique was replaced by another.
Some on the left parrot Moscow’s line, dismissing it as a ‘‘fascist coup’’ or a neocon plot to encircle Russia.
Fascists have grown without an organised left to oppose them in the rebellion.
Many on the left still see Russia as a counter balance to the US. Even though Putin has invaded Crimea they apologise for Russian imperialism.
Both the US and Russia are backing different ruling class groups—not working class Ukrainians.
We have to be clear— “No to war in Ukraine” must mean “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism”.
Tomáš Tengely-Evans, Cardiff
We've shown workers can fight and win
A big thank you to everyone who supported Edinburgh College during our recent industrial action. The sense of solidarity on the picket lines was fantastic.
Part time and temporary lecturers, many of them women with children, were losing most money by striking.
Yet they stood on the picket lines every day. That made everyone else more determined to defend those members’ jobs.
It was humbling that so many colleagues with debts, mortgages, children to feed and bills to pay were prepared to stand up and declare enough is enough!
The resulting victory is for students and lecturers alike.
Our union branch is now stronger than ever and this success has shown that the workers can still unite and fight for a fair deal.
Billie Walker, EIS-FELA equalities rep, Edinburgh College
Remember solidarity for the miners
Over 80 people attended an event at Wakefield Labour Club (the Red Shed) early this month to commemorate the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
Wakefield Socialist History Group organised it.
Ken Rowley, ex-vice president of the miners’ NUM union gave a poignant, witty and illuminating account of daily life during the strike.
Yorkshire NUM ex-vice president Ken Capstick spoke about how the strike related to both the energy crisis and the economic crisis today.
Granville Williams from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign reminded us the struggle for many miners goes on. He promoted an excellent new book on the strike he edits called Settling Scores.
Local teachers’ NUT union secretary Sally Kincaid argued the importance of solidarity work by women and students during the strike.
Alan Stewart, Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group
Thanks for a wonderful miners' special
Socialist Worker’s Miners’ Strike 30th anniversary special is absolutely wonderful.
Everything I may have forgotten is there, all the main bases have been touched. And that’s speaking as an ex-miner.
It’s a message that needs to be taken to this new generation to exchange the experience of militants that have gone before and take the lessons forward.
We’ve not all died off yet—there’s still a lot of fight in us old dogs.
Steve Hammill, South Yorkshire
War women worked hard
A lot of cotton mills had creches like those mentioned in the article on women and work in the First World War (Socialist Worker, 8 March).
My great grandma started in a mill on half a day aged 12.
A lot of young women didn’t marry until later so they could stay in work.
They returned as soon as they could after a baby and worked themselves into early graves.
We should never forget that without trade unions capitalist employers would still be treating their employees like this.
Jayne Firestone, on Facebook
Eton toffs so out of touch
Working class children should learn to become like middle class children to get on in life and get to university, thinks government adviser Peter Brant.
He needs to be reminded what the Tory coalition is doing to our education—£9,000 fees, “free” schools with unqualified teachers, and the scrapping of EMA.
Talk about being out of touch.
Anonymous, Name and address supplied
An antidote to Farage’s bile
What a traumatic train journey Ukip’s Nigel Farage must have suffered listening to those foreign languages.
I’d rather that than listen to train full of Nigel Farages spout their bile and racism.
I have booked my coach ticket for 22 March Stand Up to Racism and Fascism demo. Thanks to Socialist Worker for bringing it to our attention.
Martin Webb, Swindon
Scots should vote to stay
Independence won’t make much difference to Scotland. Key economic decisions will continue to be made in the City of London.
With no representation in Westminster the Scots will be even further from the centre of power in these islands.
Andy Towle, on Facebook