Teachers at Noel Park Primary School walked out on Thursday of last week against plans to turn their school into an academy.
Local trade unionists, parents and children joined the NUT union members on their picket line in Haringey, north London. They brought banners and food for the strikers.
The Academies Enterprise Trust plans to take over the school. Strikers described feeling “totally ignored” during the consultation process. More than 90 percent of parents voted against the academy plans and the vast majority of school workers oppose them too.
Striker Ines Ruiz said, “If I wanted to work for a private company then I could have chosen to. But I don’t.”
Dave Gilchrist is the NUT union rep at Noel Park. “We’re told not to worry because nothing will change if our school becomes an academy,” he said. “But if that’s true, why change it?”
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Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, faces being forcibly turned into an academy later this year. This follows a year-long struggle against the move that has seen mass meetings, marches and strikes.
Joint NUT union rep Jane Coxon said, “We have shown that workers in different unions can strike together and win overwhelming support.”
She added that workers were still negotiating over protecting their terms and conditions under Tupe regulations. A court case brought by parents challenging the forced academy is also still ongoing.
Phil Brett, the other joint NUT rep, said the Downhills campaign had made the privatisation of schools “a national issue”. He said, “Our battle may be over, but the war is not. For our side to win we need to link up the resistance.
“It’s tough for one primary school to take on the government. “But if unions organised joint action for all schools threatened with academies we’d be more likely to win.”
No teaching took place at Worthing High School in West Sussex last Wednesday. Members of the NUT and NASUWT unions struck against their school’s plans to convert into an academy.
Striking teachers were joined on a lively picket line by pupils and their parents. Worthing High Academy Action Group has carried out a sustained campaign since May.
Prospective parent Mark Slatter from the group said, “Governors have held their meetings behind closed doors and refused any representation from staff or parents to put the opposing case.”
One NUT member told Socialist Worker, “The majority of staff and parents strongly oppose an academy. We have a deep belief in state education as a public service not a business. If they don’t respond after today then we’re going to have to extend the strike.”
Teachers in the NUT and NASUWT at Bacup & Rawtenstall Grammar School in Lancashire walked out on Thursday of last week against plans to turn the school into an academy.
Teachers at Village Infants School in Dagenham, east London, began a two-day strike on Tuesday of this week. The NUT members are opposed to plans to merge the school with a Church of England primary school.