Furious parents and staff campaign to fight academisation

Sedgehill school students fighting academisation in Lewisham, photo by Martin Powell-Davies

Sedgehill school students fighting academisation in Lewisham, photo by Martin Powell-Davies   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Ian Pattison, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Parents of pupils at George Tomlinson primary school are furious. They fear their east London school could become an academy. Academy company Lime is on an expansion drive and has installed its own staff at the school.

Over 60 parents and supporters were at a public meeting on 25 May, unhappy with the changes this has brought to the school.

60 joined a protest two days later outside the school gates, before marching to Leytonstone tube station. Parents held another protest the same evening. Academisation can be beaten – as has been shown recently at John Roan School in south London after teachers voted for strike action.

The teachers and support staff at George Tomlinson are considering taking strike action too. With the backing of parents and the local community behind them, this can mean we can win.

The local Waltham Forest Labour council was held out for particular criticism by parents. They’ve used none of their powers to block academisation.

Local Labour councillor Clyde Loakes celebrated that ‘only’ a third of Waltham Forest primary schools are academies. The other two local Labour councillors – Jenny Gray and Marie Pye – attended the meeting but refused to do what parents asked or even attend our protest. The council welcomes academisation and privatisation.

The NUT teachers’ union is ideally placed to coordinate a campaign in the borough. This campaign needs to involve the whole local community, with strike action and parents at its heart. Waltham Forest Trades Council has invited teachers, support staff and parents to come to its next meeting with a view to taking a more active role in helping to stop the threat of academisation of the whole borough.

The Socialist Party says schools belong to the community and shouldn’t be run commercially.