Wednesday 7 October 2009

United against the 'Goldsmiths Trust'

Last night, a packed meeting hosted by Goldsmiths Students' Union gave renewed confidence to the parents, staff and governors attending that we can successfully defeat the plan to set up a three-school Trust Federation controlled by Goldsmiths University.

Poet and writer Michael Rosen and Francis Beckett, author of The Great Academy Fraud, provided humour and analysis from outside Lewisham. Michael started with a poem about the "car school" which, as Francis went on to explain, wasn't actually so far from the truth of the business-dominated curriculum found in some Academies.

Maggie Pitfield from the UCU explained that lecturers valued the partnership nurtured over years between the Goldsmiths Education Department and local schools - but didn't want that relationship destroyed by the proposed Trust federation.

I spoke on behalf of staff and unions to explain why we had to stop the Trust damaging education and removing local accountability. It is a plan motivated by the belief in the power of privatisation rather than any evidence that Trusts benefit education. The Trust is also part of a wider attempt to break-up comprehensive community education in the borough. It threatened teachers' jobs and conditions as Ed Balls' recent speech about using federations to make savings had made very clear.

There are no convincing arguments to support the Trust. Small wonder that 89% of those responding to the first 'consultation' had opposed it. The consultants had to admit that the response showed the "lack of enthusiasm" for the proposal.

Of course, those behind privatisation proposals don't worry about the fact that the public don't support them! That's why the meeting agreed to step up the campaign, including possible strike action in the schools concerned. Parents would also be key and we needed to go out and increase their involvement to stop the Council trying to pretend that it was only staff with 'vested interests' that opposed the proposal. Parents who attended the meeting have already got in touch to offer their support in building parents' opposition.

Together, we CAN defeat the Trust!

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