NUT members at Sedgehill and the three Prendergast Federation schools took part in a solid strike today.
Pickets were on the school gates from 7.30 am before strikers packed into a Ladywell cafe to warm up for the rest of the day. From 9.45, strikers gathered outside Hilly Fields school where the Governors of the three schools in the Prendergast/Leathersellers Federation were meeting to vote on whether to press ahead with their Academy plans.
By 10.30, when the Governors' meeting started, the crowds had been boosted by both parents and class after class of chanting Prendergast students. The meeting could have been left in no doubt about the views of the school community as they chanted "Teachers, parents, students say, 'Academies in Lewisham - No Way!' " For a video of the protest, see http://youtu.be/W7tnXQLiqnE .
The fact that this overwhelming show of opposition was them to be so blatantly ignored will be a bitter disappointment to all those who protested. Regrettably, however, the fact that a majority of the Federation Governors were intent on voting to apply for an Academy Order, starting down the road to the academisation of Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields and The Vale schools, was never really in doubt. Governors have shown no intention of taking note of the strength of the arguments against academies - nor the strength of opposition in their school community. SAiL, the Stop Academies in Lewisham campaign is going to make sure that those Governors have to take note - and are made to think again!
SAiL had already made plans at our meeting the night before to respond to the likely pro-academy vote. A committee of staff, students and parents has been set up. Unions will be setting dates for further strike action after half-term. Leaflets and pamphlets are being written to answer the Governors' claims and to explain how these academy plans threaten to damage and tear apart education right across Lewisham. We will be out on the school gates, train stations and shopping areas building for a public meeting in a fortnight's time. We will be demanding that, if Governors are so sure of their arguments, why won't they agree to a full ballot of parents to see if they agree with their proposals - or not?
Look out Prendergast Governors, this battle has only just begun!