Powerful Copland picket

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A section of the lively picket of teachers and school support workers outside Copland Community School in Brent
A section of the lively picket of teachers and school support workers outside Copland Community School in Brent

THERE was a powerful picket on Wembley High Street yesterday morning as 150 teachers and 80 non-teaching staff went on strike at Copland Community School in Brent, north-west London, against forced Academisation.

Teachers and other school workers were joined by students and parents on the picket line, chanting: ‘Pupils Not Profit! Hands off Copland!’ and ‘Gove Out – Education In!’

NUT member Tanya Sefton, an English as an additional language teacher, told News Line: ‘We are showing our opposition to Academisation overall. In Brent, most schools are now Academies and we don’t want it happening here.

‘Academies do not put the interests of the students first, they are about saving money and they undermine the conditions of teachers.’

NUT and NASUWT member Alex Harrison, a modern foreign languages teacher, said: ‘There are lots of things we need at this school, we are crying out for new premises, but what we don’t need is forced Academisation.

‘Forced Academisation means poorer working conditions for both students and staff.’

NASUWT member Simon Hill, a chemistry teacher, said: ‘Academies try to generate a high turnover of staff because new staff are cheaper.

‘They try to bring costs down by high turnover, which is very bad for children’s education.’

ATL President Hank Roberts spoke on a megaphone to the picket: ‘Education Secretary Gove has said he wants to turn all schools into Academies. Then they want to run schools at a profit.

‘Our message is we will not tolerate the privatisation of the education system.

‘All over the country the resistance to forced Academisation is growing, with more and more strikes, backed by parents and students.

‘All the unions are united. We have huge unity.

‘This government’s plans for education are exactly the same as their plans for the NHS – privatisation.’

Nick Grant, NUT Executive member, said: ‘In America they have Charter Schools, which are their equivalent to Academies.

‘In these schools they fine the families of children who misbehave.

‘There’s a family in Chicago which owes 1,000 dollars, fined just because their son wouldn’t make eye contact!’

He went on: ‘When they have most schools as Academies they will hand them over to Serco or Capita, or some other multinational.

‘Gove has already said he wants teaching online, he wants to replace teachers with the internet.’