Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/552/6505
Opposition grows to Kirklees schools plans
Government plans for academies have arrived in Kirklees, Yorkshire, in the form of their misnamed Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The Tory cabinet has drawn up controversial proposals.
Mike Forster, chief education steward Kirklees Unison, personal capacity
They are recommending an academy and the closure of several schools. This has produced a whirlwind of opposition. Yet, we were only given until 14 November to respond to these disgraceful proposals.
After just four weeks, local action groups have sprung up in five different areas and they all sent deputations to the council meeting on 15 October.
The town hall was besieged by angry pupils, parents, staff and trade unionists determined to bin the idea of closures and privatisation. Seven deputations addressed the council, which gave the combined opposition of the Lib Dems and Labour the courage to oppose the tight consultation timetable.
One of the action groups has been set up around Castle Hall high school, which has had three huge meetings. At a protest on the school fields, they spelt out a huge human SOS involving over 200 people. A demo is now planned for 25 October.
At four other schools, pupils and staff have organised opposition. At least two schools have sought legal advice about the viability of the Tory plans.
Disgracefully, the leader of the council has only considered the views of his own, mostly white, constituents by suggesting a new school in the middle of his ward. This is an affluent area and 98% of his electorate are white.
It will massively skew the pupil intake of schools throughout the rest of the area.
Sixth form provision is to be concentrated in two schools, leading to the closure of three other sixth forms. The new sixth form schools are either grammar or trust schools and will inevitably create selection by creaming off the 'best' for the grammar school.
The half-baked academy plan proposes the closure of Birkdale high school to make way for a monster 1,650 pupil education factory. The NUT and Unison have combined forces in a campaign of opposition and were on this week's lobby.
Socialist Party members are in the thick of the fight. We have set up a youth wing of the Castle Hall action group, which is now seeking to combine all the other pupil action committees. Stalls and petitions have been going around the communities and through the consultation meetings, we have given encouragement and backbone to parents and staff.
It will take a united campaign, including combined strike action to defeat the proposals. Already, the idea of a student strike has been enthusiastically received.
In The Socialist 15 October 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party women
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis