Parents, teachers and campaigners in Newham, east London, are celebrating. They heard last week that, after a series of strikes and protests, the governing board of Keir Hardie school had voted not to proceed with academisation.
Further strikes had been planned for later in April to force the school’s governors to hold a ballot on the plans. It’s another sign that resistance can win.
Campaigners across Newham have been told again and again that, “It’s a done deal”, or, “They’ll never listen to you”.
But the case against academisation has grown stronger as academies fail, as companies holding school contracts collapse, and as evidence mounts that they are not good for education.
The campaign in Labour-run Newham had scored another victory earlier last week at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Parents at Avenue primary school challenged the lack of meaningful consultation over a proposal to transfer to academy status.
Strikers and supporters cheered as parents emerged to explain that the judge criticised the consultants and employers, and granted parents permission to proceed towards the next stage.
The NEU union said the funding agreement that was due to be signed is now on hold. The next governing body meeting cannot vote to proceed to academy transfer.
This success is due to the determination of parents, the 13 days of solid strikes and the 100-strong pickets of strikers, parent and supporters at the school.
It was aided by strikes at the other schools—Cumberland and Keir Hardie.
And Brampton Primary has done a complete U-turn from its plans to academise.
Parents have received a letter which said, “At the present time it will continue to be a maintained school under the local authority.”
This is a victory for the union members and the parents who had started to mobilise for significant opposition.
Before the campaign started schools in Newham had become academies, often with no resistance from staff or parents.
That has all changed. Any school threatening to academise now knows it will face opposition from staff and parents.
NEU members at Cumberland school are becoming even stronger in their commitment not to academise as they realise this model excludes students with special needs.
One parent, Alicia, at the picket line on 21 March praised the support at the school for her child and the progress he had made at Cumberland.
She said, “I fought very hard for my child to be in the mainstream and I am not prepared to see him sent to a Special School.”
Workers at Connaught School for Girls struck over pay on Thursday of last week.
It was the fourth walkout for NEU education union members at the east London school.
Workers are demanding an inner London pay rate as an outer London school.
The union suspended two planned days of strikes last Tuesday and Wednesday for talks at conciliation service Acas. Thursday’s strike went ahead after no agreement was reached.
Parents brought croissants to the picket line to show their support.
Strikers have also had donations and messages of support from local campaigners, trade unionists and Labour Party members.
They plan two three-day strikes after Easter.
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