Hackney teachers set to strike over academy bids

Haggerston School. Image: kitreno @ flickr

Teachers in three Hackney schools have voted in favour of strike action if their schools are converted into academies.

At Clapton Girls Technology College 84 per cent voted for strike action, at Stoke Newington School 97 per cent, and at Haggerston School 81 per cent. Governors at each school will decide next month whether or not they apply for that status.

Over 140 schools are expected to convert to academy status in the coming academic year after the government passed a new law to allow every school in England to opt out of local authority control. Schools rated “outstanding” by Ofsted – like Stoke Newington and Clapton Girls Technology College – were pre-approved, meaning that those which applied immediately were most likely to open as academies first.

Academies are secondary schools, which are funded directly by central government instead of receiving their funds via a local authority. They have more freedom over the way they are run and are, for example, able to set their own pay and conditions and have the ability to change the lengths of their terms and school days. They can choose their own curriculum, as long as it is “broad and balanced”.

Teachers fear academy status would threaten their pay and conditions and reduce staff and parents’ democratic representation on school governing bodies, reported the Hackney Gazette.

Local NUT representative Mark Lushington has said: “It is clear from these results that there is huge opposition among teachers to academy status, and our view is very simple – we want every local school to remain a good school with proper democratic accountability to the people of Hackney.”

Proposals to convert schools into academies have met with significant opposition since the new legislation came into force. ELL has previously reported how plans to convert Tidemill School into an academy have met with widespread disapproval within the community.

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