Socialist Worker

Fight against academisation in Brent is still on

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2594

Pickets at the Village School last month

Pickets at the Village School last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at the Village School in Brent, north west London, faced a private security firm with dogs as they arrived to protest at a governors’ meeting last Wednesday.

NEU union members are fighting a plan to turn the school into an academy.

Joint NEU rep Jenny Cooper told Socialist Worker, “We could hear the dogs barking in the van. The gates were locked and our fobs deactivated. We were treated like criminals.”

It was the final day of a three-day strike by NEU members against the academy plan, following several previous walkouts.

There is widespread parent opposition to the plan and local Labour MPs have opposed it too.

Jenny said workers were “absolutely livid” at how school bosses treated them. “They clearly don’t see us as people with a right to have our voices heard,” she said.

“But it also reinforces our suspicion that there is something very secretive about the conversion plan.”

Those staff allowed into the meeting were made to sign a form promising not to speak and not to report what took place.

Yet Jenny said the bosses’ actions had pushed more people to oppose the academy plan.

The governors’ meeting voted by eight to three to go ahead with the conversion.

But this isn’t the end of the battle. The NEU is exploring legal action.

Jenny added, “Even if it does go ahead, we’ve now got a strong union group that will challenge any changes to our conditions.”

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Workers at the City of London Academy in Bermondsey, south London, struck last Thursday over perfomance monitoring

Teachers in sixth form colleges will get a pay rise of up to 2 percent backdated to September, following talks.

The NEU union and the bosses’ Sixth Form Colleges Association agreed the deal last week. It means teachers on points one to six of the national pay scale will get a 2 percent rise, and those above point six will get just a 1 percent increase.

NEU members rejected a previous offer and agreed to ballot for industrial action if necessary. Tom is a sixth form activist and NEU member in Cambridge. “It shows that you don’t even have to take action to shift bosses,” he told Socialist Worker.

“But that also means we’re not asking for enough.

“A number of people said straight away that we should not stop the action but shift the dispute to government in order to ensure a rise of 5 percent or more.”

Tom said although bosses have agreed the offer, it isn’t funded. “We need to make sure that the government funds the pay deal,” he said. “And fight on other issues such as workload and academisation.”

Workers at Connaught School for Girls in east London are preparing to escalate strikes in a pay fight.

The NEU union members are demanding an Inner London pay rate as an Outer London school. They held a one-day walkout last month.

Workers are set to strike on Tuesday and Thursday of next week, and then on 20, 21 and 22 March.

Paul Phillips is an NEU rep at the school. He told Socialist Worker, “Even the Department for Education says spending on teachers is the best way to get good results. We’ve been patient—but now it’s industrial action time.”

Strikers won widespread support for their action last month. Visit them on the picket line at Dyers Hall Road, E11 to show solidarity.

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