By Janet Szpakowski
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School workers at Waltham Holy Cross win support for anti-academy strikes

This article is over 4 years, 8 months old
Issue 2660
Solidarity on the picket line outside Waltham Holy Cross school
Solidarity on the picket line outside Waltham Holy Cross school (Pic: Janet Szpakowski)

NEU union members at Waltham Holy Cross Primary School in Waltham Abbey, Essex, began a three-day strike on Tuesday of this week.

They are striking against the forced academisation of their school by NET Academy Trust, which is due to move into the school from Monday of next week.

Workers held their first strike day on Thursday of last week.

They were joined on the picket line by parents, pupils and other supporters including NEU Essex branch secretary Jerry Glazier.

Glazier said, “The union has given its full support to members in their determination not to become an academy.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, visited the picket line on Tuesday.

Ben Collin, NEU rep at the school, said workers had voted by 94 percent in favour of strikes on an 82 percent turnout.

Some 14 more teachers and support workers have been recruited to the union since the beginning of the campaign.

There is widespread ­support for the strike.

A “Hands Off Waltham Holy Cross” banner is strung across the road into Waltham Abbey.

Some supporters broke away from the picket line to march to a junction close to the town centre last week. They were applauded by ­passers by and passing vehicles hooted their support.

Dave Plummer, local Green Party councillor, praised the community campaign set up by parents of children at the school.

He pointed out that planning meetings to academise the school were held at the Department for Education even before the school’s Ofsted inspection report was published.

Members of Epping Forest Labour Party at the picket line said they were opposed to academisation.

They were particularly concerned about the impact support staff cuts would have on children with Special Educational Needs.

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Workers in west London take on Labour council’s ‘shameful’ plan to close school

Workers at the Roe Green Strathcona site school in west London struck on Tuesday of this week as part of a battle to keep the school open.

The cabinet of Labour-run Brent council voted last Tuesday to move to a formal consultation on the proposed closure of the school.

In an informal consultation, some 463 written responses were received—460 opposed the closure and just three were in favour.

There is overwhelming opposition to the plan from school workers, parents and others in the area.

Labour’s Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, criticised the council as biased. Brent NEU secretary Lesley Gouldbourne said it is “extraordinary and shameful” that the council has failed to listen.

“At the same time as it is preparing to close Strathcona because it says there are not enough pupils, it has given planning permission for ARK Sommerville—a primary free school in nearby Wembley—to open,” she said.

Walkouts in Sussex to stop academy

NEU union members at Peacehaven school in Sussex struck for two days from Wednesday of last week.

The workers are fighting against East Sussex County Council’s plan to transfer the school to the Swale Academies Trust.

They planned a further two-day strike from Wednesday of this week, and a three-day strike from Tuesday of next week.

Two local MPs, one Tory and one Labour, have sent a joint letter to the Tory-run council calling for the academy conversion to be stopped.

And the NEU said that over 300 parents had signed postcards in one morning to send to council leader Nigel Enever

Ballot over boycott puts school union to the test

An indicative ballot for a boycott of the hated Sats tests in primary schools is due to end on Tuesday of next week.

Activists in the NEU union were fighting to get the vote out in the last week of the campaign.

Children face two rounds of the Sats tests in primary schools.

They cause severe stress for children and have nothing to do with improving education.

Instead they are used to rank schools and pit teachers against each other.

And the pressure to “teach to the test” means children suffer from a distorted education.

Workers should vote to boycott the tests.

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