Just days after I was selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green (current occupant: Iain Duncan Smith) I received an email saying that Longshaw primary, a local school, was under threat after being severely run down by a multi-academy trust – Silver Birch – one of the unaccountable corporates now running our schools. I knew there would be examples of Tory policies gone wrong in this London suburb, but didn’t anticipate how much anger academisation had caused. The parents of these schools are part of a growing wave of accidental activists.
Even as a seasoned campaigner l found their experience shocking. Stories of children in tears after being told they had to rip up their work at the end of the year in an attempt to cover up the multiple changes in teachers: classes had up to seven different teachers over two years and staff were fired and then walked out of the school in front of the pupils. Parents told me there was a culture of fear among staff, depleted school funds, inflated salaries for managers.