|Parents chained themselves across school entrance|
Report from Brent NUT and ATL
Parents and their children used 20 metres of chains and padlocks to chain themselves across the front entrance of their primary school. They were there to support the teachers and support staff who were taking strike action against the school being forced to become an academy. St Andrew and St Francis Cof E Primary in Belton Rd, Willesden, Brent had taken their first day of action last week and this week they are on strike for two days.
The parents are demanding an independently overseen ballot with full information of the arguments for and against an academy. The so called consultation was a mere letter supporting an academy and a form that asked parents if they did or not. On a small turn out the majority agreed. But the IEB ignored a meeting of parents held at the school who made it clear they were unanimously against an academy. This was not even mentioned in the consultation report sent to the DfE. Both parents and the education unions have been talking to and handing out information to parents about why the school should not be an academy. The parents’ petition has reached over 360 signing to say they are totally against a forced academy and demanding a fair ballot.
The staff, parents and children sang songs, blew whistles, banged drums and shouted No academy! There was a fantastic feeling of solidarity among the crowd and a determination to continue the campaign.
Irene Scorer, a parent, said, “Today was fantastic. We really showed that we support our teachers and support staff. We’ll keep going until they give us a ballot. We’ll be looking at how we can escalate the campaign. We won’t be bullied into becoming an academy.”
Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NUT secretary, who represents the majority of the teaching staff at the school, said, “It was great to see so many parents with their children supporting the staff today. The IEB still refuse to recognise the parents’ democratic right to be heard – and we will keep shouting until they do!”
Hank Roberts, ATL Secretary, who also represents staff at the school said, “Today shows that support for the staff taking action against the school being forced to become an academy is growing.
We also have more staff joining the strike this week. Some children were in school today taught by strike breakers from senior management. But with the growing support from staff and parents to continue and increase such action, the IEB needs to start listening and agree a ballot.”
After Easter more strikes are planned if the IEB do not agree to a ballot for parents which the Unions have even offered to pay for. What have they got to fear from this?
The Brent and Kilburn Times gives the following quote from Brent Council:
A Brent Council spokesman said: “It is central government policy that schools in special measures become academies. Since this is inevitable, it is better that the future of the school is resolved speedily.
“We are aware that trade unions are against St Andrews and St Francis School becoming an academy, however it is important to note that the majority of parents who took part in a consultation earlier this year on the school becoming an academy, said that they were in favour of the proposal.”The statement ignores the parents' views and is misleading in suggesting that forced academisation is automatic and inevitable. Other schools, with support from their local authorities, have successfully fought of forced academisation proposals. Unfortunately Labour in Brent acquiesce in such policies even as a General Election approaches where that policy can be challenged.