Uniting to defeat John Roan academy plans

Teachers, students and parents unite to defeat John Roan academy plans

The government has declared that it will begin forcing all schools to become academies. This is a huge attack which requires a huge response from the trade unions, teachers, parents and students. These recent examples from south London show that when a serious struggle is launched, victories can be won – especially when the campaign includes determined strike action.

Teachers, students and parents at the John Roan School in south London have defeated plans to turn it into an academy. Members of the teaching union NUT were set to strike on 15-16 March which forced a significant retreat.

Head teacher Nadine Powrie issued a statement that the school did not intend to move to academy status and will not consider academisation for at least six months. The strike was suspended on 11 March in response.

Tim Woodcock, Greenwich NUT branch secretary, said: “We were told that academisation was inevitable and we should quietly accept the privatisation through the back door of our community schools. Well, we have proved them wrong.”

Sixth form students have also played a key role in fighting for their future with activities such as leafleting parents’ evenings and demanding their student voice in the discussion about what academy conversion would mean for them.

Martin Powell-Davies, London NUT regional secretary and Socialist Party member, who was involved in negotiations with the school congratulated the NUT members at the John Roan: “Their campaign has made sure that governors have had to pause and reconsider. Of course, this may turn out to be only a temporary step back but it is still a significant one.

“Over the next term, the campaign to make sure governors reject the damaging choice of academy conversion can continue. We will continue to support the call for a parental ballot and we will be lending our voice to the parents campaign for a democratic say in the future of their children’s school.”

However, issues at the school are far from over. On 29 February, redundancies and cuts to courses were announced. Over 24 posts in teaching and support have been axed and a number of courses currently on offer are being threatened with closure.