Socialist Worker

Education round-up: Cambridge march to defy school cutbacks

Issue No. 2648

Parents, children, teachers and governors rallied together

Parents, children, teachers and governors rallied together (Pic: Paula Champion)


Some 700 parents, children, teachers and governors turned out in Cambridge after school on Monday to protest about school funding cuts.

The demo was organised by parents at St Matthews Primary School.

They were enraged to hear from their head teacher about the crisis the school was facing due to government cuts.

The head teacher—along with many others across the country—had sent a letter to parents.

It outlined the schools’ attempts to lobby government to acknowledge the funding crisis and its impact on children’s education.

The fact that Damian Hinds, education secretary, had ignored their requests to meet has driven them to take campaigning to the streets.

People marched through Cambridge city centre and the atmosphere was vibrant and angry.

Children, teachers and education union voices were heard describing the impact of cuts.

These include half day closures, cuts in Special Education Needs provision, and nursery schools threatened with complete closure.

There was also a call to make education top of the campaigning agenda come a general election.

There was a mood of resistance and unity, and a determination that further action would be necessary to fight these vicious cuts.

Paula Champion


EIS-FELA strikes and results boycott

Thousands of college lecturers in Scotland are set for an escalation of their pay dispute.

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) union have already held four days of strikes.

In a ballot which closed last week, lecturers overwhelmingly voted in favour of action short of strikes including a results boycott.

More than 54 percent of EIS-FELA members voted in the ballot with nearly 90 percent voting to escalate.

It involves a refusal to record student results and a withdrawal of goodwill.

Withholding

John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said that “by withholding assessment results, the EIS?FELA will wreak havoc with students’ life opportunities”.

But lecturers are standing up for quality education.

Union leaders have also announced three more days of strike—8, 15 and 16 May.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Scotland’s college lecturers have shown their continuing clear support for the EIS?FELA campaign to secure a fair cost of living pay rise.”

Lecturers have not had a cost of living pay rise for nearly three years.

They fought for and won harmonised equal pay across the sector, but management now want them to pay for that by holding down future increases.

The present offer amounts to 2 percent over three years and worse terms and conditions.


Southfield school victory

Workers at Southfield Primary school in Ealing, west London, have stopped their school from becoming an academy after threatening to strike.

The NEU union members balloted for strikes after school governors announced that they wanted the school to join the Knowledge Schools Trust.

A statement from Southfield NEU members said, “We believe in education for all, not just the chosen few. So we rallied together to fight this decision. We fought back!

“We had a ballot, met with parents and decided we were prepared to strike to save our children’s education. We wouldn’t have achieved this if we hadn’t stuck together.”

Workers had won support from Labour MP Rupa Huq, councillor Yvonne Johnson and Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council.

The result shows that it is possible to stop academisation and privatisation in schools.


Fight attacks in Bradford

A Bradford Academy Trust, Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust (BDAT), wants to rip up teachers’ conditions in its 17 schools.

Talks at the Acas conciliation service have broken down with no agreement.

And BDAT has now issued staff contracts with a deadline of 30 April to sign.

If workers do not sign, BDAT will seek to dismiss them on 31 August and then offer new contracts to start in September. Unions have instructed members not to sign.

The NEU and NASUWT unions, and probably Unison and the GMB unions, are planning an indicative ballot for strike action.

Please encourage the Bradford teachers in their fightback by signing their petition and please circulate it widely via your social media.

A Bradford teacher and NEU member

Sign the petition at bit.ly/BDATAttack

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