Six more schools in Lewisham are due to be turned into academies, a meeting of the local National Union of Teachers last night was told.
The meeting was organised to set in motion a campaign to defend Lewisham’s primary and secondary schools from privatisation. Rob Johnson, a driving force of the “Hands Off Hove” campaign at Hove Park School, was on the panel to share his experiences of the successful campaign.
The panel discussed the decision of Bonus Pastor School to turn into an academy. Since organising the meeting, five more schools have decided to become academies.
Following Bonus Pastor School’s announcement that it would become an academy, worries have mounted between teachers, parents and the community. The Lewisham branch of the NUT said: “We are here to save Lewisham’s education from threats of privatisation and cuts”.
Martin Powell Davies, the General Secretary announced: “We now know of six schools that will definitely turn into academies, Prendergast Hilly Fields, Prendergast Lady Wells Fields, Prendergast The Vale, SedgeHill School and Bonus Pastor which we already knew about and another that I cannot name as it has not been officially reported and possibly more. We have also been warned of an independent school wanting to set up.”
Lewisham already has four academies: St Matthews Academy in Blackheath, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in New Cross, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Knights Academy in Downham and the oldest academy in Lewisham, Tidemill Academy in Deptford.
Davies said: “The country as a whole appears to be slowing down the conversion of academies, but as we are coming up to an election, Lewisham is trying to catch up”.
“London boroughs need new schools, but government ideology says that new schools have to be free schools or academies. But this is not the way to address the school places issue”.
As well as the expansion of academies, two more free schools are opening in Lewisham. The Citizen School has been given the go-ahead by the Department for Education to open in September 2016. The DfE is currently considering Plentier Academy’s proposal. An independent school, Diamond Enterprise School, will also be opening.
The national secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance, Alasdair Smith, said: “There is a myth around academy conversion. £1 billion has been spent on academies’ progression and there has been no change at all. We can’t waste another five years on this”.
The meeting resulted in deciding to start a campaign similar to Hove Park School’s, including considering strike action across all of those schools that will be converting.
Davies said: “Things with academies will move very quickly, we won’t have any more.”
There will be another meeting next Monday from 6:00pm at the Telegraph pub in Brockley where all teachers from the schools will be invited to discuss the campaign.