In July 2004 we were shocked to hear that our community primary school in Glenbrook, south London, was being considered as a candidate to become a city academy for three to 19 year olds. It was announced at our governors’ AGM, and the director of education received her first taste of what the opposition to the plan might mean. Parents were very hostile. One parent asked, ‘Why do they always want to experiment on poor, black kids?’
During the whole academic year of 2004-05 we waged a campaign which involved governors, all teaching and support staff unions, parents and local residents. We leafleted the local estates and neighbouring streets, held a VE Day garden party in the local sheltered housing also threatened with closure, took delegations to every council meeting, demonstrated outside the town hall and produced many newsletters. A parent wrote to two potential sponsors, and they both backed off to avoid adverse publicity. In the last week of term we found out that we had won. The council decided to back away from the Glenbrook plan due to the scale of the opposition. They stated, ‘There is little support for the proposal from within the school.’
The education White Paper now seeks to take all the worst elements of the academies programme and impose them on every secondary school.
The lie that parents will get more choice needs exposing. The increased involvement of the private sector will only mean more choice for some middle class parents and less choice for the majority.
At the start of our campaign many said we would not change a decision that had already been made. Now we know that campaigns can make a difference, and it’s possible to fight and win.
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