Workers at Cumberland School in Newham, east London, struck on Thursday of last week against a plan to turn their school into an academy.
Upbeat strikers chanted, “Our school is not for sale,” and, “Whose school? Our school,” on the picket line.
And NEU union members at three Newham schools— Cumberland, Avenue and Keir Hardie—plan a coordinated walkout on Thursday of next week.
Cumberland striker Angela told Socialist Worker, “Children with autism here have one to one support.
“They can progress but you don’t see the results straight away. We’re worried the support will be taken away.”
Striker Michael worried that cuts could push autistic children out of the school. “Some children won’t get to a stage where they will take GCSEs,” he said. “But academies are known for pushing out children who they think will push down the results.”
Teacher Anna added, “We’re in the poorest district in Newham, which is the poorest borough in Britain. Pastoral support for children is really important, but in other academies this has been cut.”
Many involved oppose privatisation on principle.
Teaching assistant Kim said, “This is all about filling the pockets of the CEO. They are not thinking about the little people and they are not thinking about children.”
NEU rep Carolyn explained that the fightback is building the union. “We have over 100 NEU members in the school now,” she said. “This picket line is bigger and stronger than our first one in January. There is no need for them to academise this school.”
Striker Yasmin said it was “wonderful” to see solidarity from parents from neighbouring schools on the picket line. “I am optimistic,” she told Socialist Worker. “We can make a difference.”
Nottingham strike against academisation
NASUWT union members at Friesland School in Sandiacre, Nottingham, began a three-day strike on Tuesday of this week against plans to academise the school.
The walkout, which closed the school to children in years 7, 8, 9 and 10, follows a two-day strike last week. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said there is “no educational or financial benefit” to becoming an academy.
Fighting to stop privatisation in Brent
NEU union members at the Village school in Brent, north west London, are preparing for five days of strikes in the run-up to a key vote on academisation.
Workers are fighting plans to turn the school into an academy. They plan a three-day strike from 20 February and a 48-hour strike from 27 February.
Joint NEU rep Jenny Cooper told Socialist Worker that workers’ action has got the head “rattled”. “We had a massive turnout at a meeting last week called by Barry Gardiner MP,” she said. “Everyone opposed the proposal.
“The governors and the head had been invited but none came. I can only surmise that they’re worried their arguments won’t stand up.”
Governors will meet to decide on the plan on 28 February, the second day of a two-day strike.
They want the meeting to be confidential—but workers want it to be public, and plan to go anyway.
On non-strike days, the union is encouraging workers to only work their directed hours and take their full lunch break.