Sunday, 22 May 2016

Five reasons to look out for your ballot paper and VOTE YES

1. Relentless workload and ‘payment-by-results’ are already driving too many teachers out of the profession. VOTE YES to say ‘enough is enough’. 

2. A system that sets out to ‘fail’ children, schools and Local Authorities threatens both teachers and the children we teach. VOTE YES to stop things getting even worse. 

3. The pay and conditions documents that still apply to teachers in most schools - including academies - are under threat. VOTE YES to demand national collective bargaining to protect and improve pay and conditions. 

4. School budgets face significant cuts. VOTE YES to demand all schools have the funds to improve pay and conditions, instead of having to cut them. 

5. The Government has been forced to rethink – but they still hope to press ahead with more cuts, deregulation and forced academisation. VOTE YES because, together, we can make this Government pull back much more. 

So how do I vote? 

Ballot papers are being sent to the home address listed for you on the NUT National Database on Monday 23 May. They should arrive by Thursday. Just place a cross in a box and return your ballot paper in the envelope provided.  

Send off your vote before you forget – and encourage your NUT colleagues to do the same. 

What if I want more information before I vote? 

Watch this video, explaining why your pay and conditions are at risk:

Look on the Campaigns section of the NUT website for more information: 

Still not sure? We’re happy to answer any queries that you might have about the ballot. Email your question to the National Union at

What if I haven’t received a ballot paper? 

If you still haven’t had a ballot paper by Thursday 26 May, ring the ballot hotline on 020 7380 6300 quoting your name and membership number.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Sedgehill - a warning of what forced academisation means for schools

As I have explained in a previous post, Ofsted's decision to label Sedgehill School in Lewisham as ‘inadequate’ is the "sad culmination of eighteen months of destructive political interference. ... Worse, that political interference is set to continue, with the newly enacted Education & Adoption Act 2016 meaning Sedgehill will now be automatically converted into an academy, and without consultation".

With a daughter of my own at the school, I fully understand the anger of Sedgehill parents as the shamefully undemocratic nature of the legislation is becoming clear to them. Of course, if the Government succeeds in imposing its White Paper plans - even if revised according to Nicky Morgan's latest announcements - then many thousands of parents could soon be facing the same disgraceful situation.

"Education not Privatisation" - Sedgehill students demonstrate outside Lewisham Town Hall, December 2014

I have made this comment to the press tonight as London NUT Regional Secretary, linking the situation at Sedgehill to our wider campaign against forced academisation:

"Disgracefully, this Government's latest legislation means that Sedgehill's parents, students and staff have no legal right whatsoever to have their say about the future of their school. Sedgehill will now be forced into becoming an academy,  without any consultation, even over which academy sponsor will be taking over the school.

Sedgehill's school community made its strong opposition to academisation very clear in the mass lobby outside Lewisham Town Hall at the end of 2014. Once again, their views are going to be ignored by politicians who say they care about education but then refuse to listen to those who will be most affected by their decisions.

This undemocratic forced conversion of schools into academies has nothing to do with improving education - there is no evidence that it will do so. This policy is being imposed for political purposes - to impose an agenda of deregulation, cuts and privatisation on our schools.

The National Union of Teachers will continue to campaign against the Government's plans to force schools into becoming academies. We are also balloting members across England for national strike action to oppose the threats being made to teachers' jobs, terms and conditions from such damaging education policies. In defending teachers' conditions, we are also defending students' learning conditions". 

Monday, 9 May 2016

What we are striking for - collective bargaining, class size limits, reduced workload, pay progression and fixed pay scales for all schools and academies

Below are two resources being circulated from the National Union which you may find useful for building the strike ballot.

The first is a short explanation of the dispute highlighting, in particular, the demands the NUT made in the dispute letter sent to the Secretary of State last month. Below that, is a link to a new PowerPoint for meetings updated to take into account the latest developments:

Stand Up for Education: teachers stood up, parents stood up, MPs stood up… Now let’s build the ballot to keep up the pressure!!

On Friday 6 May, Nicky Morgan was forced into the third major policy climb-down in the last month. This was a result of NUT members working with allies, campaigning against the incendiary white paper proposals. While this is undoubtedly a tactical victory for the NUT and a serious setback for the Secretary of State, it is clear that her course of direction remains the same, as shown in her public remarks over the weekend.

Her announcement made no concessions on the matters about which we wrote to the Secretary of State on 21 April to declare the dispute. In that letter we demanded she provide additional funding and take other necessary steps to ensure:

  • National collective bargaining on pay and conditions in all schools and academies
  • Pending a new collective bargaining structure, for pay and all other terms and conditions to be no worse than those in the STPCD and Burgundy Book
  • A significant improvement in the conditions of employment under which teachers work, in particular a limitation on class sizes to no more than 30 in the first instance
  • Reduction in teachers workloads, in particular through limitation on marking, data handling and planning
  • Reintroduction of pay portability, the pay spine points, fixed pay scales and removal of the requirement for all pay progression to be performance related
  • A significant improvement in measures to ensure teacher retention, including security of employment.

Nicky Morgan has said nothing to resolve our dispute. Real term cuts in funding will have major effects on schools and teachers, whether academy or maintained. They will further erode terms and conditions, increase workload and impede pay progression for teachers. As more schools become academies, the coverage of the national STPCD and Burgundy Book will narrow and these protections will gradually wither away.

Therefore we remain in dispute and building for the ballot remains the most important and urgent priority. We will ballot members in all schools and academies for “discontinuous” strike action, and intend to call a one-day strike in early July and to announce an additional autumn term dates as well.

The ballot opens on Monday 23 May and will close on Wednesday 22 June. We need a big turnout and a huge YES vote.

We have updated the materials available for you to use in your member and rep meetings.

At the same time our Stand Up For Education campaign continues and we can use the momentum we have generated to press for real changes in policy direction.

Forced academisation – by other means – is still a real threat to democratic oversight of education. The Government’s plans will continue to narrow the curriculum, encouraging the consequential growth of Exam Factory culture. We will continue to work with all those who oppose the Government’s education policy.

That is why the NUT campaign to Stand Up for Education continues.

Teachers stood up. Parents stood up. MPs and councillors stood up. Even the Institute of Directors stood up and the CBI has said the way schools are measured does not make sense.

Stand up for Education:

  • Stand up for full funding
  • Stand up for the profession and QTS
  • Stand up for schools and education
Let’s keep up the pressure.

 The full updated PowerPoint can be downloaded here

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Are you ready to Vote YES in the NUT’s national strike ballot?

The following message is being sent to NUT members in academy and maintained schools across the London Region:

Dear Colleague, 

Nicky Morgan had to find ‘reverse gear’ after all 
On Friday, our campaign against the White Paper secured a significant achievement. Nicky Morgan announced that her plans to force all schools to become academies by 2022 are being withdrawn.

We should take heart from this climb-down, following other retreats such as that over Baseline Assessment. They show that our campaigning can succeed. Now we need to build a huge YES vote in our upcoming national ballot to see if we can also make the Government rethink over their attacks on teachers’ pay, terms and conditions as well.

A battle won but certainly not the war 

Nicky Morgan has had to take a step back but, be under no illusion; the Government’s intention to convert all schools into academies has certainly not gone away.  

As this article by NUT GS Christine Blower explains, they have simply replaced one forced academisation plan with another, announcing new legislation that would allow them to force entire local authorities to be academised instead. The other provisions of the White Paper also remain, including abolishing QTS and removing parent governors. Our campaign to defend education continues.

Our ballot goes ahead from 23 May 

We can take confidence from our campaign against the White Paper into our separate national trade dispute with the Government. As the Circular sent to all NUT Divisions on Friday stated “at the moment, there are no concessions in terms of protecting terms, conditions and funding. You should continue to build for our ballot".

Teachers' pay, terms and conditions under threat

As this new video by NUT DGS Kevin Courtney explains, Government policy, including the White Paper, threatens teachers in both existing academies and non-academy schools. Further academisation and deregulation jeopardises the continuation of any nationally applicable system of pay and conditions. The Government’s proposed cuts to school budgets would drive down pay levels, cut jobs and increase teacher workload to even greater levels than you face already. We must defeat those threats. 

Update your home address, meet with colleagues
These new developments make it even more important that you and your colleagues are clear about the NUT’s campaign and why we are balloting for strike action.
* Make sure the NUT has your correct home address so you receive your ballot paper promptly
* Encourage your NUT group to hold a school meeting to get ready for the vote
* Look out for local NUT Division meetings in your borough. Some are listed on the NUT website.

Volunteer for the national phone bank
Finally, don’t forget that some schools have no rep to pass on information to members. That’s why the Union is seeking volunteers to help call members in those schools as part of a national phone bank that will be in operation from the start of the ballot period. Receiving a call from another NUT member who understands the issues faced by teachers will make a vital difference in securing the best possible turnout.

Hundreds of you have already offered to assist and, if that’s you, then thanks so much. You will be receiving further details, including a suggested script, soon. If you were planning to help already, or can now agree to do so, then it’s essential you register for security purposes via this link

Thank you for standing up for teachers’ conditions and for children’s education  

Martin Powell-Davies 
London NUT Regional Secretary

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A battle won over academisation - but certainly not the war - now to win our trade dispute over pay and conditions

Morgan forced to retreat by NUT campaign
Yesterday’s climb-down by the Tories over full-scale forced academisation is a significant victory for the NUT and all of our allies in the campaign against the White Paper. It is also a significant defeat for Nicky Morgan and her allies in the DfE and the Conservative party who so badly misjudged the level of opposition that they would meet in attempting to complete their school privatisation plans in one fell swoop.
However, this is just one battle won in a war that is far from over. Speaking on the BBC this morning, defence secretary Michael Fallon argued that "it's not a U-turn on academies, that is still the aim. We want every school to be an academy in the next 5 years". Of course he wasn’t going to admit to being forced into a retreat but, from the Tories’ long-term perspective, he is correct. 

Forced back by public opposition, spearheaded by the NUT’s campaign, a more strategically adept wing of the Tories have recognised that, rather than going for all-out attack, their privatisation plans are more likely to be implemented successfully by continuing the school-by-school, authority-by-authority approach to academisation.

A battle won, but certainly not the war 

The Government aren’t even retreating as far back as their existing forced academisation plans, as set out in the new Education and Adoption Act, bad enough as they are. This legislation already allows them to allow unelected Regional Schools Commissioners to force some schools (like my daughter’s, Sedgehill) into joining a Multi-Academy Trust without any consultation. This will include schools judged to be ‘coasting’ – even though those judgements will be based in good part on the results from the completely discredited Tory testing regime. No, they also want to accelerate the process by forcing whole Local Authorities into complete academisation. 

Yesterday’s DfE press release, while announcing Morgan’s climbdown, also made clear they would now bring forward legislation which will trigger conversion of all schools within a local authority in 2 specific circumstances:
* “where it is clear that the local authority can no longer viably support its remaining schools because a critical mass of schools in that area has converted”.
* “where the local authority consistently fails to meet a minimum performance threshold across its schools, demonstrating an inability to bring about meaningful school improvement”
Another great Polly Donnison cartoon
Another great Polly Donnison cartoon
In short, this retreat will mollify opposition from the Tory Shires while still enabling them to push ahead with complete academisation in many urban authorities where poverty and cuts inevitably mean more schools face challenging circumstances. 

Does this mean that this Tory retreat isn’t significant? No, far from it. As an article by Christine Blower hosted by Huffington Post yesterday made clear: “This is the third major education U-turn by Government. In a month we have seen baseline scrapped, SPaG Key Stage 1 tests scrapped and now the central plank of the White Paper, forced academies. This is a clear indication that Government policy is in tatters”.

However, as it also concluded “the threat to state education in England has not gone away. The spectre of forced academisation still looms over many schools along with the threat to remove the requirement for elected parent places on the governing boards of academy trusts ... The NUT's job will not be complete until we have finally lifted the threat to teachers' jobs, pay and conditions”. 

Continue to build for the ballot
That brings me to the most important issue immediately facing NUT members – our upcoming strike ballot about our trade dispute over funding, pay, terms and conditions. Yes, the political backdrop to our dispute has changed – and for the better! It is now clear that this Government can be forced to retreat and we should take real confidence from their disarray. Now they've found reverse gear, can we push them back further into a full retreat?

However, while we have led a broader campaign against the White Paper, our trade dispute has never been about forced academisation – it is about the threat to jobs, pay and conditions arising from damaging Government policy. Those threats remain. Continued academisation still threatens the existence of any nationally applicable system of pay and conditions. In particular, the funding cuts remain in place, cuts that will further drive the cuts to pay levels and ratchet up the ever-worsening workload that teachers are already facing.

As the Circular sent to all NUT Divisions yesterday stated “"At the moment, there are no concessions in terms of protecting terms, conditions and funding. You should continue to build for our ballot".  

The Union will debate our ongoing strategy 
The Union and the NUT National Executive will need to debate and agree our ongoing strategy. I finish by posting a contribution to that debate from Kevin Courtney, NUT DGS, who has just posted on his Facebook page some points which everyone needs to consider:

This retreat by Nicky Morgan does not mean our dispute is over. There are still huge threats to teacher pay and conditions and therefore to student learning conditions.

Our trade dispute is (and always has been) about the threat to terms and conditions that comes from funding cuts, academisation and the de-regulation within STPCD itself.

Our demands are for:
- a return to national negotiations
- specific improvements in terms and conditions,
- guarantees that these apply to all state funded schools and
- for the funding to ensure all of this.

All our schools are facing significant cuts. 8% threatened across next few years overall. George Osborne is freezing schools money whilst increasing by 5% taxes on the school pay bill.These cuts are impacting on all schools - perhaps even more on academies.

The STRB has recently reported to Nicky Morgan - we don't know what they've said - but we know that she wanted them to say that teachers can now be moved down the pay spine, for more performance pay. Her reaction to their report will appear very soon.

Thousands of schools are still facing academisation - many 'forced', some 'voluntary', all the schools in local authorities where the Government says a 'tipping point' has been reached or where it says 'standards' aren't high enough. All with no evidence that schools improve faster when they are academies! And in particular the Government hasn't been able to show us any evidence that breaking up pay and conditions leads to higher standards.

We need guarantees for the teachers in all those schools and improvements for teachers in all schools. These teacher conditions are after all our students learning conditions. Class size increases are bad for teachers AND students. Closing courses and making teachers redundant is bad for them and means students have less choice. Our campaign to protect teachers and therefore education must continue.

This Government retreat shows that Govt policy is in tatters. We will write to Morgan on Monday demanding genuine consultation, negotiation and a change of direction.

Our strike ballot is still on.

Monday, 2 May 2016

A Sedgehill postcript - education as a 'significant cash generative business'

I am adding this as an appendix to my main post on Sedgehill - following a fortunate Google search that came across a site that says a lot about the direction in which education is being taken by the Tories.


My son Adam, who wants to study languages at university, was hoping and expecting to stay on at Sedgehill this year but returned to school for Year 12 to find that, even though he had previously been assured that his A level subject choices would be provided for, the school would not be able to provide French or German lessons in the timetabled school day. Instead, a teacher had agreed to provide French tuition at the end of the school day - a kind offer but not ideal - but German tuition would only be through 'online learning' - far from ideal. Not surprisingly, Adam decided that he had little choice but to leave the school that had supported him so well up until then.

Online tuition may have some merit but surely cannot possibly provide the direct interaction and face-to-face discussion needed to fully develop learning, particularly in language acquisition. Neither can it provide the friendships and classmates that I would also see as a key part of schooling. However, it is of course exactly the model that the CEOs of edu-businesses like to champion - because it's a great way to 'deliver' a low-cost service that allows them to maximise profits out of education.

To my surprise, I have just come across an article boasting about the profits that could be made from such an online tuition model - and listing Sedgehill as one of its clients!
The article explains that InterHigh "the UK’s first and only online secondary school" has been recently acquired by Wey Education PLC. It caters for students who are home-schooled but hopes that "individual schools or academies ... could ‘buy in’ subjects not currently on the syllabus" and that "in fact, InterHigh is already delivering Spanish, German, economics and history lessons for Sedgehill School, Lewisham". [Note the use of 'delivering' rather than 'teaching']

Wey Education's Chair, David Massie (described in the article as a 'serial entrepreneur' - although a quick web search suggests to me that his experience seems to lie in the mining, financial and aviation sectors rather than education), goes on to explain that "the plan is to rapidly grow it by opening doors to the educational establishment in the UK while taking the InterHigh brand international ... It isn’t yet Ofsted regulated, but Wey is working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) to get it into the system ... We are told it will take a couple of years to change the law, but we are working with them to be the pilot to develop the regulations.” 

The article goes on to boast that City broker WH Ireland "sees revenues for the current year of £1.5mln, rising to £3.2mln and then £5mln, generating pre-tax profits of £400,000 in 2017 and £900,000 12 months later". However, they also have an eye on the 'international market' ... "The company already has a sales person in Africa, but the biggest opportunity resides in Asia and China in particular. The People’s Republic is a hothouse for education, where schooling is done on an almost industrial scale ... 'Ten thousand students is not a pipe-dream for the Asian business if we find the right partner' ... 'On those numbers and with a premium price of, say, £5,000 you’d have a very significant, cash generative business"

So, is this the future of education that is envisaged by those driving Tory education policy? Schooling run by 'serial entrepreneurs' so that they can create a 'significant cash generative business'? It might be good for business but, as far as my son was concerned, it was not offering the good education he had previously enjoyed at Sedgehill School.

Fancy investing in Wey? - you can hear more from Mr Massie here (explaining that 'the world has changed ... teenagers don't really talk to each other any more')

Sedgehill: the disastrous result of imposing ‘regime change’ on a community school

Friday’s final release of the Ofsted Inspection Report into Sedgehill School, labelling it ‘inadequate’ in every category, is the sad culmination of eighteen months of destructive political interference that has dealt a severe blow to what had been a thriving comprehensive school. 

Sedgehill students say what needs to be said: "Yes to Democracy - No to Academisation"

Worse, that political interference is set to continue, with the newly enacted Education & Adoption Act 2016 meaning Sedgehill will now be automatically converted into an academy, and without consultation. Once again, political dogma will take precedence over evidence; once again the school’s staff, parents and unions, those who really understand about education, will be ignored.

What has happened to Sedgehill School is, regrettably, a test-case in how not to carry out successful school improvement. The disastrous result of the failed intervention shows how the delicate balance of maintaining a comprehensive community school can quickly be upset if policies are imposed based on local and national political agendas instead of on an understanding of education.

The damage that has been inflicted on Sedgehill is one that I feel with deep personal anger, not just as a trade union representative but as a member of the local community and parent of four school students who have been so well taught and nurtured at the school. The fact that they achieved over 40 A/A* GCSEs between them should, alone, give a lie to the idea that Sedgehill was always a ‘failing’ school that required ‘intervention’. The fact that some of those responsible for the imposed damage should consistently tell me that this was just down to my children, rather than recognising that such a high level of exam achievement requires talented and dedicated teachers, also points to their failure – perhaps refusal – to appreciate the excellent work carried out by Sedgehill staff.

My children, and their classmates, weren’t only supported academically; they were also supported to grow as well-rounded individuals in a way that only a genuine community school can achieve. This sense of community meant that at the end of December 2014, when the school first came under attack by its own Local Authority, hundreds of parents and students packed into the School Hall to defend Sedgehill, including several new families who praised the school and how it contrasted so positively to the impersonal ethos in the local academies that their children had recently attended. 

Far from feeling like they were being ‘failed’, over 300 school students then demonstrated outside Lewisham Town Hall to ‘Save Sedgehill’, led by the school’s ‘Vocalize’ singing group who had just been selected by the Royal Albert Hall to sing that year’s Christmas music. Incredibly, instead of Vocalize being promoted by their Local Authority to showcase local educational success, the students had to demonstrate against that Authority. Instead of building on such an invaluable asset as community support for a school, the Authority’s actions only alienated that community.

Those demonstrations took place in response to Lewisham Council’s decision at the end of 2014 to unjustifiably serve a ‘warning notice’ on Sedgehill School and then impose an ‘Interim Executive Board’. We will never know for sure what political and/or personal agendas lay behind those decisions but what we can now say for certain is that, just as staff, parents and unions warned at the time, these impositions disastrously destabilised Sedgehill and, ultimately, led to the latest Ofsted outcome and impending academisation.

It is hard not to suspect that such personal and political agendas were at play because educational evidence never backed up the Local Authority’s public denouncement of Sedgehill, criticism which of course started a downward spiral of demoralisation, destabilisation and staff resignations. As I explained in detail on my blog at the time, Sedgehill was actually one of only two Lewisham secondary schools which had consistently improved its GCSE 5A*CEM results from 2010 - 13 and was the only Lewisham secondary school to show improved results for A*-C grades at A level in 2014.

The excuse used for intervention was that, despite this improvement, the 2014 GCSE results had then fallen – but then so had results in the majority of Lewisham secondary schools following controversial national changes that had also led to a fall in results nationally! However, and confirming the genuine improvements which were being made before Lewisham’s interference, the 2015 results showed GCSE 5A*CEM results at Sedgehill improving again, at the same time as results in several other Lewisham schools continued to fall. Regrettably, it seems that Sedgehill – and its staff and students - will be the school that pays the price for Lewisham Local Authority’s failure to provide support for genuine school improvement – and will be forced by Government policy into another route that statistics also show fails to improve schools – forced academisation.

Of course, Sedgehill’s overall ‘league table’ position remains lower than some, but that is inevitable given that Lewisham’s latest ‘banding’ data confirmed that Sedgehill has also been the secondary school with a pupil intake most skewed to ‘lower-ability bands’. Unfortunately, Sedgehill’s ability to succeed, despite such an imbalance, was about to be thrown away. Instead, a new leadership was imposed that has regrettably demonstrated an inability to maintain that careful balance of support required in a school with a far from genuinely ‘comprehensive’ South London pupil population. 

Does that mean that the previous leadership was perfect and the school was doing everything correctly? – of course not. As Lewisham NUT Secretary at the time, then, as you would expect, I would attend school union meetings where teachers would raise concerns about management, workload and so on, concerns that I could then raise constructively with the school leadership. The Governors and Headteacher were, however, people who understood their school community and, working in partnership with another experienced local Headteacher, were trying to correct deficiencies previously identified in the 2013 Ofsted inspection which had concluded that the school ‘requires improvement’. Instead of building on that genuine school improvement – demonstrated by the 2015 GCSE results - with support, encouragement and resources, the imposition of that IEB broke that partnership, removed the Governing Body and quickly began the downward spiral that has led instead to an ‘inadequate’ grading.

Sadly, the Local Authority seems either blind to their own errors, or simply unwilling to admit to their mistakes. In response to the Ofsted Report, a Lewisham spokeswoman is quoted in the South London Press as saying: “Last year we intervened decisively by appointing an Interim Executive Board (IEB) to bring about rapid improvement. We remain confident that this was the right decision and the good work they have done so far in taking swift action to bring in a new leadership team and in stabilising the school has been acknowledged by Ofsted in their report”.

It is beyond belief that the Local Authority and Ofsted can claim that Lewisham’s actions have ‘stabilised’ the school. The reality is that those actions have ripped apart the school community and critically damaged its effectiveness. So much so, that some staff are suspicious that the policies adopted have been deliberately designed to bring about failure and academisation. That is not a view that I share, although perhaps it’s even more worrying that the Authority, IEB and imposed school management cannot recognise the damage that has been done under their leadership.

Of course, there will be suspicions that Ofsted are playing their part in a political agenda to impose academisation in Lewisham, particularly after the successful and well-publicised campaigns that have been conducted by parents and staff under the banner of ‘Stop Academies in Lewisham’.

The Ofsted Report is certainly overwhelmingly negative in its findings, despite having to acknowledge that “the 2015 GCSE results showed improvement ... the proportion of pupils obtaining five or more good GCSE grades, including English and mathematics, was in line with the national average”. It also confirms the skewed intake of the school, including that “the proportion of pupils known to be eligible for the pupil premium is well above average”. However, and as NUT members and other staff have been consistently trying to raise with the new ‘CEO’ who replaced the previous Headteacher last academic year, I regrettably believe that Ofsted had good reason to raise concerns about safeguarding and, in particular, pupil behaviour.

These failings are a direct consequence of forcing out a school leadership that had experience of the complexities of leading a diverse London school and replacing them with a team that NUT members complain show little understanding or experience of what is required. It is also a consequence of an attitude that I personally experienced in meetings with the CEO, IEB and Local Authority officers that seemed to regard long-standing staff as malign ‘enemies of promise’ rather than a pool of valuable experience to work with and learn from. It is an attitude that has led to staff demoralisation and resignations, adding to the instability which Lewisham’s actions had already thrust on the school.

In throwing out the procedures put in place under the previous management and Governing Body, NUT members report that the new regime failed to put in place their own clear procedures for developing teaching and learning, behaviour management and safeguarding. Staff have been left without the support and guidance they need, particularly new colleagues replacing those who had resigned. Regrettably, with the threat of academisation, there may be more resignations to follow.

Lewisham Local Authority’s actions have been nothing short of calamitous. It was their decision to publicly attack the school, destabilising and alienating the school community, then to force out experienced staff and replace them with an IEB and Leadership Team that have, in the view of most NUT members, compounded the difficulties facing Sedgehill students, staff and parents. The Local Authority needs to admit its mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. 

"Sedgehill did not fail us" say students outside Lewisham Town Hall, December 2014

Regrettably, this failure will no doubt be seized upon by some in Government as evidence in favour of academisation - far from it. These failings result from an authoritarian, ill-informed approach which exactly mirrors Government policy – ignoring the evidence, imposing pre-conceived agendas and ignoring the voices of the school community. Forced academisation, regrettably seemingly inevitable under the new Government legislation, will only continue on the same damaging route.

As the NUT and others have shown, there is no evidence that forced academisation will improve education. In fact, by concentrating on the wrong priorities, it will make things worse. It won’t deliver on what’s really required – more resources to provide additional staff to meet needs, a leadership that can work collaboratively with staff to raise morale, encourage recruitment and retention and apply systems that address existing weaknesses, and a community-based Governing Body. However, what events at Sedgehill also show is that it’s not just enough to oppose academisation. Staff, parents and unions also need to campaign for democratically accountable schools and Local Authorities that work with their local community and workforce, not against them.

Postcript - for an explanation as to why my son has already left Sedgehill - and the role of edu-businesses in profiting from Government policy - see my later post here.