Socialist Worker

School workers in London to strike and rally together against academy plans

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2593

School strikers protesting at Brent civic centre today

School strikers protesting at Brent civic centre today (Pic: Brent NEU)

Workers at four London schools will strike together against plans to turn their schools into academies.

Avenue Primary School, Keir Hardie Primary School and Cumberland Secondary School are in Newham, east London. Workers at The Village School in Brent, west London, will also be out.

For those at Avenue and The Village, Thursday is the final day of a three-day walkout.

Strikers reported high turnouts of NEU union members and supporters on both picket lines.

Jenny Cooper, joint NEU rep at The Village School, told Socialist Worker, “The turnout on the picket lines has been solid. At our school there are also freelance groups who come in and run sessions for the children.

“We’ve heard that some of them have cancelled because they don’t want to undermine the strike.”

Security guards at Brent Civic Centre point out strikers to police

Security guards at Brent Civic Centre point out strikers to police (Pic: Brent NEU)

In Brent police were called on Wednesday as strikers protested outside Brent Civic Centre. They have held protests there several times throughout the dispute.

Jenny said, “About 40 of us held a ‘singing protest’ in the main atrium surrounded by all the officers for about 40 minutes. It caused a bit of a stir.

“Our management are playing dirty. They’ve told parents we’re only striking because we’re being paid to do it.”

But many parents back the strikers, as does the local Labour Party, the Labour leader of Brent council and local Labour MPs.

The local Labour Party regularly brings banners to the picket line and raised £230 for the strike fund in one day this week.

Workers in Newham planned a joint strike rally from 10am on Thursday. It will be the seventh strike day for Avenue workers, the third for those at Cumberland school and the first for NEU members at Keir Hardie.

Keir Hardie school was due to join the Agate Momentum Trust in January—but opposition to the plan has pushed this back to July. NEU rep Bethan Phillips said workers felt they had “no choice” but to strike.

She added, “We are doing this for the children we teach and care deeply about and for all those who will come after them.”

Carolyn McGrath, NEU rep at Cumberland school, told Socialist Worker, “They wanted our school to become an academy last October.

“Because we have a PFI agreement, they need to work out what will happen with the repayments first. But the longer this goes on, the more the political landscape is changing in our favour.

“One of our local Labour councillors Rokhsana Fiaz plans to stand for mayor on an anti-academy platform.”

The Newham Anti Academies campaign plans to lobby the council on Monday. NEU members in Brent plan a two-day strike from next Tuesday. Governors there meet next Wednesday to decide on the academy plans.

Joint strike rally in Newham—Thursday 22 February, 10am, Highway Church, 92 Romford Rd, E15 4EH.
Lobby the council—Monday 26 February, assemble 5.15pm, Plashet Park (Woodhouse Grove Entrance), E12 for a march to East Ham town hall.
Send messages of support to Newham strikers at and to Brent strikers at

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