Monday 16 December 2013


Guest blog by 'Fair Play'

Misjudged attempts by Copland Community School’s  Interim Executive Board (IEBto outmanoeuvre the school’s  staff have failed embarrassingly. The Brent Council-imposed governing body have refused staff and parents’ proposals that there should be a secret ballot conducted by the trusted and prestigious Electoral Reform Society on whether the school should be taken over by Ark Academies. Anticipating pleas that such a ballot would cost too much, the staff unions were prepared to foot the bill themselves.  The teachers’ proposal that strike action would be suspended if the ballot went ahead was put to the IEB with a very reasonable deadline of giving a response by last Thursday, 5.00pm. They failed to meet this deadline but promised to have decided by Friday pm. They ignored this too.

Aware that their tactical stalling would leave little time for teachers to meet to decide their response, the IEB appeared to hope that the strike action on Tuesday (announced  weeks ago by the staff and backed by their national union organisations) would be called off. As an attempt at an additional sweetener, they were said to be considering yet another version of their own ‘consultation’ vote instead of the Electoral Reform Society secret ballot  However, when Copland staff met on Monday there was anger at the tactics of the IEB and a near-unanimous vote to continue with Tuesday’ strike. Staff felt that the IEB’s contemptuous disdain for their attempts at  reasonable discussion and negotiation reinforced their view that the whole academisation ‘consultation’ was a sham and that, despite Michael Pavey’s claims to the contrary, the takeover by Ark is, in his own words,  a 'done deal'.

Ok, Michael. If it is a done deal, why not let the staff unions go ahead and pay for their ballot of parents and teachers at their own expense? It won’t make any difference to anything, after all.
However, if, as you claim, it isn’t yet a done deal, then what harm is there in demonstrating that at least one ‘consultation’ in Brent is prepared to canvass and listen to the views of the greatest possible number of stakeholders consulted in the most open and democratic manner possible and at no expense to the council? 
What believer in participatory democracy could possibly resist?
( But whatever you decide, please don’t tell us that the IEB is an independent body over which you have no influence at all. You’d  have us believing in Santa next). 

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