On Thursday 4th March, members of three unions went on strike at four schools agains the prospect of them becoming academies. The schools, Prendergast Hillyfields, Sedgehill, Ladywell Fields and Prendergast Vale, are part of the Prendergast federation. The unions taking part were the NUT, the NASUWT and the GMB. The strikes were very well supported with around 150 pickets in total at the four schools. They went on after the picket lines to lobby the Leathersellers Company, the charitable trust behind the federation in central London. The students had staged their own protest the evening before.
Thursday was the second one day strike, and the unions plan further action if there is no sign of the governors responding to their protests. Strikers spoke about the privatisation of education and the drive to make schools places where profit was a motive for some of those seeking control. They also linked the dispute in the schools to the successful campaign last year to save the local hospital. One striker said:
“I am concerned about the children with SEN and those with English as a second language, as we have seen many academies exclude these sort of pupils.”
The school leadership had tried to persuade staff that this academy change would be a different and ‘softer’ version and would not mean any changes. However staff were not convinced and supported the strike very solidly.