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Haringey - Save community schools, No to academies
Six hundred parents, teachers, governors and other local residents were at a meeting at Downhills primary school in Haringey, London, to build the campaign to stop the school from becoming a 'forced academy'.
The meeting had been called by the Haringey Anti Academies Alliance and National Union of Teachers (NUT).
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham and a former student of the school, spoke about the commitment of the staff, governors and school leadership.
"There are 2,500 schools around the country, including 19 in Gove's own Surrey constituency, which are 'performing' worse than Downhills.
"Why has this school been picked to become an academy, along with three other primary schools in the borough?".
Christine Blower, national president of the NUT, spoke about the need to raise standards, not by forcing community schools to become academies, but by closer collaboration between schools, local authorities and the communities that they serve.
Fiona Millar, from the Local Schools Network, noted that the idea of forced academies flies in the face of the coalition government's 'Big Society' rhetoric.
Here is a community school which has the backing of parents, governors and staff, and the government wants to take it out of local authority control and hand it to any private sponsor who will have it. "Standards have improved in some academies.
"But in many cases that has been because the admissions policies were changed to keep out students from poorer backgrounds".
Alasdair Smith, from the Anti Academies Alliance, received applause when he highlighted the difference between his campaign and the Labour Party's: he was against academies on any basis - 'forced' or otherwise. "We should be under no illusion.
"Gove wants many, many more schools to become academies. Education companies are lining up to take over 1,000 schools at a time, in order get their hands on the government funded academies". It is how the Tories plan to create a privatised Education UK.
"He went on to say that there are good and 'bad' schools just as there are good and 'bad' academies. "Of course you're going to get a better standard of education if you pour millions of pounds into one school when it becomes an academy".
Although Lammy called for continued support for the campaign, he is content to wait for Labour to win the next general election to stop the academies battle bus.
But neither Downhills, nor the other 200 schools on Gove's target list can wait that long. Lammy also says that Gove should pick on the other schools which have worse results than Downhills. But where does that leave these schools?
Academies offer no guarantees for a decent education for children in our communities. Teaching and learning improves when it is properly resourced.
Smaller class sizes would have a massive impact on the effectiveness of classroom teachers. There is no 'level playing field'
in education. There has always been a two-tier system, since independent schools have been allowed to coexist with state schools.
If Gove's academies programme continues to gain momentum, it will create a base from which a future Tory government could introduce wholesale privatisation of state education.
The Downhills Primary campaign has called a demonstration through Haringey on Saturday 28 January to build further support to stop forced academies.