Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/553/6524
Striking against academies
Staff at two Bolton schools took strike action on 21 October over issues arising from the "academies" programme. This will mean some schools close while others are given to corporate sponsors and religious groups.
Proposals to close Withins school and Top O'th Brow primary, and replace Heyward school with an academy, met with a storm of protest earlier this year. Forced to retreat then, the authorities and sponsors are now trying again, with heavy involvement from the Church of England.
Striking teachers together with supporters from Unison and others, lobbied the council cabinet meeting about the academy proposals.
At the lobby, Withins NUT rep Phil Roberts explained to Hugh Caffrey for The Socialist:
"They've launched what they consider to be a consultation. If you compare that with what happened in Sheffield or in Preston, there they actually had a ballot where everyone could vote, and they said they'd abide by the decision of that ballot. Here in Bolton there's a 'consultation'.
The people of the local area have already said by 90% that they oppose the closure of Withins school. That's pretty much the same figure as the union survey says oppose the academy within the school.
Proponents of the academy are saying only 30% within the school are opposed. We can only assume they're only talking about the NUT which organises about 30% of the staff. If that's the case, then they're ignoring Unison members who've been on strike with us, and the other teaching union (NASUWT) which has an official position against the academy.
At Heyward, supporters of the academy are claiming a massive majority in favour. Which is strange, because no or very few people have seen the forms [for registering their opinion]! So there's concerns about how that figure has been reached.
We've also got concerns about community cohesion. When the riots in Oldham and Burnley happened, everyone said it couldn't happen here because Bolton isn't as divided. But now, while in Oldham and Burnley the lessons are being learned, in Bolton they're doing the opposite and creating Christian schools, and other religious and ethnic schools."
Campaign website http://savewithins.exofire.net. Oldham demo against academies and school closures. 15 November, 10.45am, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham town centre.
In The Socialist 22 October 2008:
Ford workers strike
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review