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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 November 2012

Waltham Forest: spread the strikes to stop the rot

Linda Taaffe, Waltham Forest NUT

In Waltham Forest, east London, one secondary school, Connaught School for Girls, is putting up one hell of a fight against academisation. Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have so far been on strike for four days in the last month. They remain solid, and the NASUWT union at the school looks like it is balloting too.

The national union has given the go-ahead for strike action two days a week up to the Christmas holidays and beyond if necessary. Over 100 parents have expressed their opposition.

At a meeting on 19 November, parents affirmed their support for the action teachers are taking to defend their children's education and expressed anger at the lack of communication and outright lies being told to them by school management.

Up to now campaigns against academies have largely had to centre around one school at a time - a tactic that is proving increasingly difficult to pursue successfully. In Waltham Forest there are already nearly 16 academies - many established 'under the radar'. Four or five schools are in immediate danger at the moment.

However, a recent general meeting of the Waltham Forest Association of the NUT agreed that we have to push the boundaries on this one and spread the campaign to mass action - a sentiment that was endorsed by the NUT's annual conference delegates earlier this year.

Teachers agreed to press the union to find ways of coordinating action in these schools. We also agreed to set up a strike committee of the NUT local executive, Connaught teachers and parents.

We proposed that on the strike days Connaught teachers and supporters fan out across the borough to publicise throughout the whole family of schools that, even though they have had no indication their school might be going academy, that does not mean they are safe. Any school could be next.

Full support for Connaught school is both a defence and attack measure. Such is the pace of the juggernaut - if we do not stop it now by the threat of mass action of teachers, backed up by support staff, parents and older students.

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