Socialist Worker

‘We’re proud of our anti-academy fight,’ say John Roan school strikers

by Miriam Scharf
Issue No. 2664

Workers at The John Roan School have staged several strikes against an academy plan

Workers at The John Roan School have staged several strikes against an academy plan (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The NEU union’s picket line at The John Roan School last week was still lively on the last of 20 days of strikes since May 2018.

Workers have been fighting against academisation. They successfully fought off one Multi Academy Trust (Mat), but the United Learning Trust (ULT) is due to take over on 31 August.

A last hope is that the John Roan charitable foundation that founded the school 342 years ago will find that their aims and objectives forbid it being given to a private company.

NEU rep Kirstie said, “We are extremely proud that we fought this injustice, exposing every step of the way the corporate model for education.”

Workers are clear they are facing a difficult future. ULT has cut sick pay for support staff and is offering only statutory leave in some of their schools.

There is concern over how ­standardised pre-written assessments are used in all 71 schools in the Mat, and a behaviour policy “that silences children”.

Jane, another NEU rep, was already talking about fighting the ULT’s appraisal policy. Another teacher said, “We will still be ­fighting next term.”

Terry Edwards, a supporter from Campaign for the Advancement for State Education, said, “It’s been a magnificent struggle.

“It has to continue if and when ULT come, to ensure that children get an education that the community can be proud of, unlike the restricted and vindictive regime that exists in many ULT schools.”

Strikers felt badly let down by Labour-run Greenwich council for not backing them.

Parent Anni said, “It’s completely ironic to hand the keys over to a trust when there will almost certainly be a general election later this year. I am happy this will be overturned when there is a Labour government.”

Only schools failing Ofsted inspection can legally be forced to academise. That John Roan workers fought forced academisation has been inspiring. Parent Stephanie said she had learnt, that “collectively people can achieve so much”.

“We saw off one Mat, we worked so well together,” she said. “I wasn’t a political activist but this has made me passionate about standing up and fighting.”

Turning up Furness heat

NEU union members at Furness primary school in north London struck for half a day on Thursday of last week. Workers have accused head teacher Sylvia Libson of a “bullying management style”.

A statement from NEU members said, “There are 11 different complaints against Ms Libson and morale is at an all time low.”

The school has agreed to an independent investigation into the complaints. The NEU said workers would “continue to strike” until it knew who was investigating.

Brent NEU secretary Lesley Gouldbourne said, “Members are not convinced it is independent so we are holding a half-day strike.”

The school formed a Multi Academy Trust in March 2016.

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