Teachers at a Church of England, StAndrews and St Francis primary school in Willesden, Brent took strike action today [18 March] against forced academy status. Parents joined them on the picket line in North West London. Lesley Gouldbourne, NUT rep said ‘This government is increasingly forcing schools to become academies, whether the parents like it or not. Despite our and parents’ objections …no secret ballot [was] allowed… Parents and teachers have had enough of education by dictatorship.’ Hank Roberts of the ATL described the parental consultation as a farce because the Interim Executive Board sent out only pro-academy information. Parents have organised a petition and further strikes are planned for next week.
Parent Victory at Twydall
Months of campaigning have paid off for parents and governors at Twydall, an inclusive primary school in Medway, Kent. They’ve argued all along that the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) was not the right sponsor for their school. Now TSAT themselves have said they no longer wish to sponsor the school. A spokesperson from Parents and Twydall Together (PATT) told KentOnline ‘We felt right from the start that they were wholly unsuitable sponsors for this unique school on a number of grounds – in particular the lack of relevant experience of supporting children with complex special needs and the disdain with which they have treated Twydall’s parents at every step of the way throughout the consultation.’ Governors backed the parents and bravely stood their ground when faced with threat of the sack from Academies Minister Lord John Nash.
Meanwhile Frank Green, Schools Commissioner for England, has written to every academy and free school headteacher explaining his role and that of the Regional Schools Commissioners. They’re the DfE’s viceroys whose performance related pay depends on the number of academy conversions they push through. The letter ends with a plea for academy headteachers to consider expanding their empires and becoming sponsors themselves.
Lewisham Schools Announce More Strikes
Four schools in Lewisham will be taking 2 more days of strike action next week on Tuesday and Weds 24th and 25th March against forced academisation.