Socialist Worker

Strikes spread in London schools - and teachers' action can stop Tory funding cuts

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2560

Forest Hill School strikers during a walkout last week

Forest Hill School strikers during a walkout last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Teachers at a number of London schools struck this week against cuts and the threats to education.

The growing number of walkouts shows workers’ fury at the attacks—and their willingness to resist.

NUT union members at Forest Hill boys school in Lewisham and Drayton Green School in Ealing began three-day strikes on Tuesday. Both had been out on strike the week before.

For those at Forest Hill, Tuesday was their tenth time on the picket line. Workers there face cuts of £1.3 million. Some 23 teachers have already resigned and won’t return in September.

Those who remain face rocketing workloads—while children face a reduced curriculum and a shorter school day.

One parent responded, “Surely this is going to be massively detrimental for our boys? It’s just too much.”

NUT rep Joe told Socialist Worker that management “solutions” to dealing with the workload crisis are “not going to suffice”.

“People know what’s required,” he said. “They are already working 50-hour weeks. We need time to plan our lessons properly, but management is making no concessions.”

Teachers were also furious after management brought in supply teachers during the strike last week. NUT London regional secretary Martin Powell-Davies said the school “has admitted that they should not have acted unlawfully in using agency staff to cover striking teachers”.

Like many, Joe is also angry at Labour-run Lewisham council for drawing up the cuts package and refusing to listen to teachers’ concerns. “The council just seems to want to wash its hands of community schools and go for academisation,” he said.

Threat

The threat of academies is what drove teachers at Drayton Green School to launch a programme of strikes. Their walkout follows a solid two-day strike last week.

A strike against academies at George Mitchell School in Walthamstow in April was successful in pushing back academy plans.

Other walkouts are over cuts, workload and conditions. Teachers at King Solomon Academy in Marylebone were set to strike on Wednesday of this week over workload.

Those at City Heights E-Act in south London were set to strike on Tuesday of next week.

In Hackney, east London, teachers at Stoke Newington School were set to strike over cuts on Wednesday. They plan further strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and then on 11, 12 and 13 July. And NUT members at Our Lady’s Convent school, also in Hackney, were set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

So were NUT members at Oaks Park School in Redbridge, east London.

Parents have called a protest against the cuts in London on 16 July. It assembles at 12 noon at Embankment.

And head teachers from 66 Birmingham schools wrote to Theresa May on Monday to say the “fair funding” formula will devastate their schools. Activists in other areas should do the same.

And we need a national protest—and national strikes—to have the best chance of stopping them.

Send messages of support to Oaks Park School at billstockwell@hotmail.co.uk, to Drayton Green via ealingnut.org.uk, to Forest Hill at membersec@lewisham.nut.org.uk and to Stoke Newington at secretary1@hackney.nut.org.uk

 


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