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7 February 2018

Striking back against academies in Newham

Helen Pattison, East London Socialist Party

It's been months since teachers at Avenue School in Newham, east London, uncovered plans for the school to become an academy.

A lot has happened since then. Days of strike action have already been taken. A new fighting National Education Union branch secretary has been elected, Louise Cuffaro, who is also a Socialist Party member. And parents have organised themselves into a campaign alongside teachers to fight for schools to remain under local authority control.

Other schools in the borough have also found out they are being threatened with academy status and have taken action. Cumberland and Royal Docks have all taken strike action. There was a large community meeting to build a campaign at Shaftesbury Primary School.

Later this month, Avenue teachers will walk out again, this time for three consecutive days. They will be joined on the final day by other schools in a joint day of action against academies, backed up by many parents across the borough.

As well as the strike action, on 26 February campaigners, parents and teachers from all the threatened schools in Newham will take their anger to the steps of the town hall during the full council meeting.

While a small number of Corbyn-supporting councillors have either visited picket lines or met with campaigners, other Labour councillors are pushing for academies. These councillors don't deserve an easy ride; parents and teachers should lobby councillor's surgeries and call on them to oppose academies.

Reports from local Labour Party meetings show that it has been Labour councillors voting down motions in support of the strikes and the anti-academies campaign.

If councillors aren't going to fight in the interests of local people, they should stand down now or campaigners may be forced to stand against them.

A strong anti-academies voice in the council chamber could help stop save our schools but whatever happens, local teachers will continue to fight alongside parents for local authority schools in Newham.