Socialist Worker

Strong school strikes against academies get a result in Newham

by Miriam Scharf
Issue No. 2593

Workers on strike at Keir Hardie school last week

Workers on strike at Keir Hardie school last week (Pic: Miriam Scharf)

Newham council in east London has passed a motion opposing academies, following a series of strikes by school workers.

It read, “This council resolves to call on all governing bodies who are considering academisation to halt all steps towards academisation until and unless there has been a binding parental and staff ballot.”

The motion added that if parents and workers vote no to academy status, this “must be accepted and implemented”.

And the council “strongly discourages” academisation and said schools should stay in local authority control.

It’s a huge victory for striking NEU union members and parents who have been fighting plans to turn schools into academies.

Around 130 people joined a protest in Newham against academisation on Monday evening.

And workers at three schools struck together last Thursday—Avenue primary, Cumberland secondary and Keir Hardie primary.

Strikers say plans to turn their schools into academies put children’s education at risk.

They even had a message of solidarity from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It said, “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 day, there is determination to stop academies across the borough.

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 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. “We are fighting for our school and community,” she said.

Reps from all three schools spoke, showing the 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.

Seeing the strikes in Newham has helped other schools to resist.

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

Workers began a two-day strike at The Village School in Brent, west London on Tuesday.

The NEU union members are taking action against a move to make the school an academy.

Governors were set to meet on Wednesday this week to decide whether the academy scheme would go ahead.

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