Thousands of teachers, parents, students and trade unionists marched through London today, Wednesday, to demand the Tories drop their forced academy plan.
Protests took place in several other towns and cities including Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Trafford, Matlock and Nottingham.
Paul Highman is an NUT rep at Hillmead Primary school in Brixton, south London. He told Socialist Worker, “Academies are open to abuse – there’s no accountability.
“They aren’t child-centred. This is just about the privatisation of education.”
Teacher Camilla agreed. “I used to work in an academy,” she told Socialist Worker. “It was awful and it made me want to quit my job.
“I got sick and stressed and was off work for a month. I know teachers who were off a lot longer.”
The Tories want to force every school in England to become an academy. Academies are privately-run but state funded.
The plan would mean a huge shift of resources to private firms and chains – and would mean a worse education for children.
Junior doctor Sarah Hallett joined the protest. “They are imposing junior doctors contracts and imposing academies,” she told Socialist Worker.
“They want to privatise the NHS and education.”
UCU union member Sue said there was a risk of “dubious” groups getting in charge of schools. And teacher Dan said, “Companies wouldn’t get involved if there wasn’t a bottom line in it for them.”
Parent Amanda helped stop academisation in Lewisham, south east London.
She told Socialist Worker, “The government’s plan would mean a lack of democracy and a lack of freedom.
“Parents only noticed before if their child’s school was threatened. Now it’s every school – and there’s potential to get a lot more people involved.”
Amanda said she would “absolutely” back school strikes to stop the Tories.
Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of the NUT. He told Socialist Worker, “There’s been a huge upsurge of anger and it’s very broad.
“It’s astonishing that Tory councillors have come out against the plan.
“We need an upsurge of demos and public meetings over this issue. And there should be united strikes by all teacher and support staff unions.”
The NUT was set to discuss its response to the academy plan at its annual conference this weekend.
East London teacher Paul McGarr told Socialist Worker, “People are really angry at the plan to remove parent governors and qualified teachers from schools.
“Before those on the left could see academies were about the corporate takeover of education. Now everybody can see it.
“The government is weak and if we strike hard we can beat them. We need rallies, a national protest and to ballot for a programme of escalating strikes.
“The first walkout should be in the summer term.”
Tens of thousands could walk out
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