Education round-up 12 July 2012

Bournville School on strike next week. Worthing High out this week. Noel Park School, Haringey out.

Submitted by Choccy on July 12, 2012

Bournville School Strike
Bournville School in south Birmingham is set to face two days of strike action next week over plans to convert the school to 'foundation' school status. Workers at the school had successfully defeated plans to force an academy conversion less than a year ago after threats of joint strike action and a community campaign.

The latest action is set for Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th July in "protest at the failure of the school to enter into meaningful consultation regarding proposed conversion to Foundation status and in protest at the change of employer with resultant threat to terms and conditions."

In particular, union members are furious at the governing body attempting to force through the decision by 1st September, and holding a meeting regarding the matter during August, when workers and students will be off, and many families will be on holiday.

Opponents of the conversion see this as yet another move to stop workers, parents and pupils being involved in the decision making process, after students were subjected to a 'sham' consultation. The Hands Off Bournville School campaign (‏@hobvs) tweeted:

"Disappointed that Bournville Sch leaders have taken same arrogant approach to foundation consultation as academy - learnt nothing. Bournville pupils informed by sch email (that vast majority don't use/can't access) of consultation meeting scheduled for the same day. How many schools would rely on school email to communicate an important message to pupils about a lunchtime meeting the same day?"

Local NUT has requested messages of support for the strikers, [email protected]

Worthing High School Strike
This week, Worthing High School teachers in the NUT and NASUWT held a joint one-day strike over plan to convert it to an academy.

As is the case with so many academies, workers at the school say they haven't been consulted, and that "governors refused to meet them", and with depressing predictability, they're rightly "worried about possible changes to their terms and conditions".

These stories are still on the increase, with 1,700 of all schools in England (and around 50% of secondaries) now being academies - up from less than 300 in May 2010, when the coalition government was formed.

In these cases, the heads invariably spout meaningless drivel like 'we'll just do what's best for the kids', but fail to cite even the slightest bit of evidence for the claim that 'academies are best for kids' and in fact ignore the fact that, even on the governments own terms, academies are clearly a shambles.

Not only are the claims fantasy in terms of 'results', but the financial carrot given to convertor schools is already being shown to be illusory, with schools quickly finding out the money sin't there long term, it was only there short term because it had been lifted from the local authority pot - steal with one hand, give back with the other - with some academies even having to roll back their free school meals due to lack of money.

Noel Park School strike

Also on strike today was Noel Park School in Haringey over Michael Gove's plans to force it to become an academy and hands it over to the chain, Academies Enterprise Trust.

These stories are almost becoming pre-set scripts, all I need is [insert school name here] and I have a blog post. The lack of co-ordinated, sustained national action, and the fact that the unions were happy to basically ignore the academies programme for the best part of a decade now, means we've all missed a trick, and workers, students and communities are paying the price. These isolated, atomised one and two day actions are a start, but ultimately, as in Downhills and Montgomery Primary schools failed opposition to academy coercion, are much less likely to get anywhere that a concerted national effort.

Education's trojan horses continue to march on.