Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/444/5270
Victory for 'save our school' campaign
"IF THIS school had been in an affluent area of Kirklees, we wouldn't have faced closure," commented Jeanette Peel, teacher and NUT member at a rally to save RM Grylls Middle School on the outskirts of Huddersfield from the axe.
Mike Forster, Kirklees UNISON
Last summer, a council report recommended the school's closure because of a drop in the number of pupils on roll. The staff, pupils and wider community fought a marvellous campaign to stop the council's proposals. Now the Schools Adjudicator's report agreed with the campaign and has rejected the council's ridiculous plan.
The Save Our School Committee organised petitions, public meetings, lobbying of councillors and media activity. All the school staff and countless parents got involved. Pupils have been to the fore in this campaign, delivering leaflets, designing posters to decorate the school windows, and making their film on why the school should stay open. Several young people as young as ten years old addressed embarrassed councillors at two Cabinet meetings in December.
Predictably the Lib Dem cabinet recommended closure but it had then to be ratified by the School Organisation Committee. We lobbied that committee and it did not endorse the cabinet's recommendation as several key members voted to keep the school open. The committee must be unanimous so the recommendation went to a government-appointed Adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore for a final decision.
5,000 leaflets from the campaign then appealed to the whole community to come to the school on the day Dr Passmore visited. At a large, passionate meeting Jeanette Townsend for the campaign presented a withering and detailed critique of the council's proposals which made a great impression on Dr Passmore.
The Adjudicator's report is heavily critical of the council, stressing the strong community support for the school and its importance to an area which is officially one of the most deprived wards in Kirklees.
This victory shows that with determined campaigning, strong support and a clear strategy, local campaigns can take on councils and win. Blair's education 'reforms' can be stopped. However this is only one victory. Hundreds of schools are under threat of closure.
The local campaign is putting its expertise to use nationally and has already had requests for advice and support. Jeanette's advice to other groups is, 'don't give up. Get past the councils, work on the School Organisation Committees and prepare a thorough case for the Adjudicator.' With strong local backing, anything is possible. For more details, contact Huddersfield Socialist Party.
In The Socialist 15 June 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news