Monday 16 September 2013

London rallies for education - and for the pupil places our pupils need

On Saturday, 500 people gathered at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster for a joint Rally for Education. Christine Blower (NUT) and Patrick Roach (NASUWT) were the main speakers.

The rally clearly had a good impact on reps that attended from Lewisham as I've already received several reports in my inbox this morning, such as this one: " Good rally with many interesting speakers and some outrageous facts that I wish the union would publicise more - such as the time bomb in Barking and Dagenham etc. re school places. It really stuck in my mind the point that Barking's population is now 31% under 20, with all the consequences that has for education, training and employment "

The pupil places crisis, spelt out by a councillor from Barking and Dagenham at the rally, is a damning indictment of Gove's failure to act on what should be his real priorities. Instead, he is concentrating on his ideological obsession with privatisation and free schools and his damaging assault on teachers' pensions, pay and conditions.

Just as the Lewisham rep requested, the NUT fully intends to publicise these facts and has followed the rally with a press release this morning launching a School Places Crisis campaign.

It points out that "London is heading for a full scale crisis in education provision unless urgent action is taken. The School Places Crisis campaign warns that by 2016 some London boroughs could see a shortfall in places of up to 40%. For example, projections show that Croydon will have a shortfall of 39% of primary places by 2016. Waltham Forest will have a shortfall of 30%".

The Campaign is calling on the Government to ensure that the extra places are provided - and that they are quality places with a qualified teacher in an appropriate environment, not relying on just cramming more children into overcrowded classrooms. A key demand is that Local Authorities are given the power to open new schools, not having to rely on academies and free schools to provide additional provision. Of course, those Authorities will also have to be provided with the necessary capital funding as well. For further information, visit

An advertisment being launched outside the Liberal Democrat Conference today

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