On Thursday, February 12th, members of the National Union of Teachers will be striking at four Lewisham schools:
Teachers don’t go on strike without good reason. We think that the threat that our schools might be turned into academies means that we have to take action. A change to academy status risks the terms and conditions of our employment. We think that it risks children’s education too.
Academy threat facing four schools
Last year, Governors of the Leathersellers' Federation of the three Prendergast schools set up a Working Party. Staff believe that it is going to report back soon to Governors with a recommendation. It could be proposing that Governors apply for an ‘Academy Order’. This could mean starting the academy conversion process for the three schools before any public consultation has taken place.
Lewisham Council has imposed an ‘Interim Executive Board’ (IEB) at Sedgehill School. Parents, staff and students have stood up for their community school and demonstrated their opposition to the Council’s unjustified plans. That campaign helped make sure that the Head was not replaced by one from an Academy. But the Government still expects an IEB to pursue academy conversion.
A fifth school, Bonus Pastor, has confirmed that it isn’t wanting to convert into an academy at the moment. Now for the other four!
A threat to teachers’ conditions
The Government says academies are given extra ‘freedoms’. That includes being ‘free’ to break from national pay and conditions.
Instead of being part of one democratically accountable Local Authority, schools and staff are divided into different employers.
Staff in many academies report that conditions and staff morale have got worse. That’s bad for teachers - and bad for education too.
A threat to education in Lewisham
There’s no evidence that academies improve education. That’s not an NUT claim - it’s what a Committee of MPs has just concluded!
What the Government’s academies programme has definitely achieved is to take schools out of the hands of local Councils, that we can vote for, and given control to private businesses instead.
Up to now, Lewisham has largely resisted the spread of academies that has taken hold in some boroughs. Shouldn’t it stay that way?!
This Government introduced new rules that allow schools to convert into academies very quickly and without having to properly listen to the views of staff and parents. Once converted, you can’t change back. If politicians and governors are so confident that academies are the answer, why not put the decision to a full ballot of parents?