Sunday 28 January 2018

Village School strike intensifies as NEU complains about Butt's 'hypocrisy'

From the National Education Union in Brent
Teachers and support staff at The Village School in Kingsbury, North West London, are increasing their action to prevent the academisation of their special school. Following their two days of strike action on 16th and 17th January members of the NEU* have upped their level of opposition to three days of strikes as management refuses to pause the consultation. 

They will be on strike on Tuesday 30th, Wednesday 31st and Thursday 1st. Picket lines outside the school will be in operation each strike day from 7.30 till 9.00.

On Tuesday members and supporters will then take placards and songs to the civic centre for a visible protest from 10.30-11.30.

After Wednesday's picket 35 members will travel to Parliament for a scheduled meeting with Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North. 

At Thursday's picket, members will be joined by Louise Regan, NUT NEU section National President, who is bringing prizes for best contributions to the protest. This will be followed by a big breakfast in the local cafe.

Further, members also voted at a very well attended union meeting on Friday 26th to strike again on the mornings of February 20th, 21st and 22nd.

Brent Labour Councillor Jumbo Chan said, “I give my full, wholehearted support to the outstanding hardworking and passionate teachers and support staff at The Village School, who work tirelessly every day to nurture the schools young students and maximise their potential. Like them and many other members of the local Labour Party and trade unions, I strongly oppose the wholly unnecessary, unhelpful and misguided proposed plans to academise such a valuable local asset, and urge others to do the same”.

Members have signed letters of complaint to the Chair of Governors and Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council. In a letter to all staff Muhammed Butt has attacked the staff of The Village and the Union Reps saying that their action is ‘to punish these children’ and of being irresponsible by taking strike action when the truth is staff are seeking to protect it. He recognises the fact that is it the work of the overwhelming majority of staff who oppose academisation who have raised the school to outstanding. Yet he discounts the fact that, as at Copland, if its staff are forced against their will into academisation very large numbers will leave. Thus, as occurred at Copland when it became an ARK academy with experienced and able staff leaving, education will be adversely hit for these very vulnerable children. ARK Elvin is yet again at the bottom of the league for Brent secondary schools, this year well below the others with only 31% A to Cs.

His own constituency Labour Party have unanimously opposed his stance of supporting the move for the school to be turned into an academy. The London Regional Labour Party also oppose academisation. Barry Gardiner, MP opposes the academisation of The Village. Muhammed Butt’s own Union the GMB opposes the move to academisation. The Headteacher and Chair of Governors, shamefully the Brent Council Labour Whip, are arguing that the school has to become a privatised academy despite the huge opposition to this of the staff and increasingly parents. 

Muhammed Butt wrote to all LA schools in December 2015 saying, “The only way to ensure that our schools remain communities, and do not become businesses, is for them to remain under the control of Brent Council. On behalf of Brent Labour’s leadership, I urge you to do all you can to ensure that they do.”

The only clear tangible outcome of academisation has been shown to be vastly increased salaries to those at the top and a wider pay gap between those at the top and the overwhelming number of staff. Muhammed Butt has said that it is his aim to seek to ‘reverse the outsourcing of services’ that Brent has done previously and bring them back in house as a way of providing a better and more economical service which we applaud. But at the same time, in complete contradiction, he is proposing support for the running of yet another Local Authority school to be outsourced. Utter hypocrisy.
A week ago, many members at the school dressed in black symbolising the death of local authority schools. On Friday, they again dressed in black and added red to show their anger. They will continue to wear black on Fridays and the NEU would encourage anyone to join in wearing black too as a show of solidarity. Please send us your photos and we will pass them on to the NEU Reps at The Village

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