Day 16 of strike action against academisation

Striking teachers, parents and pupils on the picket line at The John Roan School in Greenwich south east London fighting against the academisation of the school

TEACHERS and pupils at The John Roan School in Greenwich took their 16th day of strike action to stop its privatisation.

The school is being forcibly ‘academised’ in spite of huge opposition and an inspiring struggle against the ‘outrageous move’, which is due to be completed in September.

Teacher Gareth said: ‘We are still struggling against being forcibly academised, which is a transparent government policy to enrich Tory Party members by allowing them to siphon off public funds which should be paying for teachers and textbooks, and special educational needs provision.

‘Academisation allows their buddies to award themselves quarter of a million pound salaries, like Mr. Coles, the CEO of United Learning Trusts ULT, supposedly the ones who are going to fix The John Roan school.

‘If ULT get their fangs into this school, they’ll suck the blood out of it, in terms of its capital value.

‘The teaching staff have been saying for two years, that our school behaviour policy is not fit for purpose.

‘Everyone in schools knows that behaviour is everything. If you don’t get it under control, then results go down.

‘Now ULT have suddenly switched the behaviour policy entirely to the one promoted by myself and colleagues for the last two years, making it appear as if its academies are working.

‘Well, No! They’ve just switched their policy. It was a deliberate policy to run down standards to help them with the forced academisation.’

Gareth continued: ‘I was in the Greenwich Council meeting last night and it’s an outright disgrace for a Labour council to facilitate the privatisation of our education service.

‘Academisation is about stripping away assets that have been paid from our taxes over generations, and allowing control by private corporations and privately wealthy individuals.

‘For 125 years! That’s what I don’t get!!! Why give untested academies 125 years to change policies where councils got three?’

He added: ‘The NEU must now call national action over this because this is a national movement. Schools all over the country are saying academisation is not working.

‘We balloted over the workload and salaries six months ago, the “Enough is Enough Campaign”, but as yet I haven’t heard about anything more being done.

‘I’m a proud member of the NEU, but I think our leadership need to grow some teeth.

‘The people at the coal face are doing the fighting and the people who are supposed to be representing them are sitting on their hands.’

Tim Woodcock, Divisional Secretary for Greenwich NEU spoke to News Line: ‘This whole process of academising this school, is appalling from start to finish.

‘The Ofsted findings were utterly wrong. It describes the school incorrectly and is just not truthful.

‘The agenda is definitely only to privatise, to take people’s terms and conditions away, and to make it easier for them to hire and fire, which is why we’ve got the crisis we’re in right across schools.

‘To get rid of teachers, to get rid of support staff, so no one has a stable job – they are now using dreadful ways of working, which have come straight out of academies.

‘While senior management jobs are stable, and well paid, they are bringing teachers in at 23 or 24 years of age, on the lowest possible salaries, keep them for three years, and the minute they move up through the pay scales, senior management find a way when they appraise them, to criticise their teaching, frighten them and move them on. So they are never paying people decent salaries.

‘I am bitterly disappointed that Greenwich Council, a Labour-held council, did not stand up for teachers.

‘The comment they made about the teachers in the school was utterly wrong.

‘In reality there is not a problem with the teachers in this school. It’s about poor management, and it has been for about five years now.

‘What the government should have done and the Labour councillors should have done is to support the head at this school to give the staff a proper chance to turn this school around.

‘Every study shows that the local authority does education better than any academy chain.’

Woodcock continued: ‘At the Greenwich Council meeting last night, the council said that it did not have the powers to stop the academisation and if they failed to implement the government measures the Commissioners would shut the council down.

‘It is likely that the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) made an underlying threat to the councils. It’s complete hogwash though.

‘I think they should have stood up much more emphatically than they did.

‘These teachers have been extraordinarily brave. They have stood up for their school for a very, very long time.

‘They are absolutely phenomenal union members, and phenomenal public servants as well because they know they are standing up for children at the end of the day.

‘They know that the terms and conditions they lose today are lost for the children.

‘Parents must understand that every term and condition that is reduced, or cutdown or made worse for teachers, is also made worse for their children.

‘Like not to be sacked because you are sick. These things occurred in the 19th century. We are in the 21st century, we shouldn’t be moving back.

‘I believe we need a socialist society, a society that cares for people.

‘Deliberately putting people in place that we know are going to cut those benefits, is a massive backward step.

‘They want a gig society, where they can pull up outside a workhouse, pick up twenty people to come to work and then throw them back in the workhouse at the end of the day.

‘But there is a movement. Young teachers are now saying “this is wrong”, in very large numbers.

‘What we have to do is gather up that sense of anger, into something that says, “You can do something about it.”’