More strikes expected opposing academisation

Strike action taking place on February 12. Pic: Martin Powell-Davies

Strike action taking place on February 12. Pic: Martin Powell-Davies

A second strike in three weeks will take place in four Lewisham schools on Thursday over plans to turn local schools into academies.

National Union of Teachers (NUT) members at Sedgehill, Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields and the Vale schools, all of which have been threatened with academy status, will be joined by members of GMB and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) to begin picketing at 7:30am.

On February 12, teachers from the four schools walked out on a planned strike. During that day, governors of the Leathersellers’ Federation, the board that oversees the three Prendergast schools, Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields and Vale; announced they had applied to the government to seek academy status.

At the time of the first protest, Martin Powell-Davies, the general secretary of the Lewisham branch of the NUT said: “A committee of staff, students and parents has been set up. Unions will be setting dates for further strike action after half-term. These academy plans threaten to damage and tear apart education right across Lewisham.”

A spokesperson for the Lewisham branch of the NUT said: “Staff will be striking once again to show their absolute determination to halt the proposal for the three schools in the Prendergast federation to become academies.”

“We hope the NUT strike action, alongside striking members of the GMB and NASUWT as well, will help persuade governors to look at the weakness of the arguments in favour of academisation and to withdraw their plans.”

Woman protesting against academy status for Sedgehill. Pic: Alex Taylor.

Woman protesting against academy status for Sedgehill. Pic: Alex Taylor.

According Powell-Davies, this second protest will also be calling on the governors of the schools to hold a full consultation, where parents can read and hear both sides of the academy debate.

He said: “If the governors are so sure of their arguments, why won’t they agree to ballot parents?”

A local group against academisation, Stop Academies in Lewisham, known as SAiL is supporting the strike on Thursday.

On February 25 the group held a meeting at St Mary’s Centre for teachers, parents and students who oppose the Prendergast proposals.

The group is urging parents to write to councillors, requesting that the Leathersellers’ governors conduct a full parental ballot across all three Prendergast schools.

A spokesperson for SAiL, said: “The Prendergast parents are united in outrage at the academy plans and fully support the teachers. We demand a parental ballot.”

On the day of the strike, teachers plan to protest in central London outside the offices of the
Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools, the organisation which runs the Prendergast schools.

On January 9, it was confirmed that governors from Sedgehill School had been removed against the wishes off staff and parents.

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