Socialist Worker

Three east London schools strike against academy plans

by Miriam Scharf
Issue No. 2593

On strike at Keir Hardie school

On strike at Keir Hardie school (Pic: Miriam Shcarf)

Workers at three east London schools struck together yesterday—with lively picket lines joined by parents, teachers, and support workers.

The NEU union members at Avenue primary, Cumberland primary and Keir Hardie secondary, all in Newham, are fighting to stop their schools becoming academies.

They even had a message of solidarity from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying, “Our schools should be accountable to parents, staff and the whole community—and with Labour's National Education Service, they will be”.

This was a heartening message. But with a fast rolling programme of academisation locally, union members and the community know they can't afford to wait for a Labour government.

With Avenue on their seventh strike day, Cumberland on their third, and Keir Hardie taking their first strike, there is determination to stop academies across the borough.

The campaign is now demanding binding parent and staff ballots at each school considering academisation.

At a meeting at conciliation service Acas two young NEU reps from Keir Hardie presented the case—winning agreement for an emergency governing body to consider the demand.

Strikers are confident that where there is a ballot, they can convince parents and staff to keep schools with the local authority.

At an 80-strong strike rally yesterday Newham NEU secretary Louise led with the resolute message, “Unity is the way to win”.

Avenue parent Shebbida, spoke of their legal case against unfair consultation said. “We are fighting for our school and our community,” she said. 

Reps from all three schools spoke, showing the hard work that went into organising the strike.

Outer London Executive member Dominic Byrne promised that the union would back members striking against academisation “all the way, until the other side blinks”.  

Strikers keep organising to spread the fight to other schools in the firing line.

Some schools have resisted pressure from the Department for Education the council and others, and have decided against academsiation. Seeing strikes against academies has helped them focus.

Campaigners plan a march on the day of a full council meeting at East Ham town hall.

The council will debate a motion opposing academisation will be put and delegates, including the union members and parents will speak.

Parents and workers from all schools, and everyone who wants to fight academisation, outsourcing should join us.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.