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Hove Park victory: academies can be stopped
Phil Clarke, NUT executive member for Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway, personal capacity
Hove Park will not become Gove Park after a tremendous campaign to prevent it from becoming an academy.
Despite years of planning, months of producing glossy booklets, holding consultation evenings which only explained the 'benefits' of academy status and the full backing of the Department for Education, the head at the last minute realised he was going to lose as governors voted not to convert on 22 September.
This is an amazing turnaround from a few months ago when the 'Hands off Hove Park' campaign was formed. Parents, teachers, students and local residents knew that not only was conversion the privatisation of Hove Park, but that it would open the flood gates to other schools in Brighton and Hove to do the same.
What was it that swung the governors, who for so long were expected to vote the conversion through?
The packed campaign public meetings? The protest marches? The campaign song (search YouTube for 'Hands off Hove Park'), the solid NUT union strike, the council ballot showing 71% against conversion or even the election of three anti-academy governors in a contest forced by the campaign? Of course it was all of these and more.
All of the cards are placed by the government in the hands of those who favour the privatisation of our schools. Conversions can happen in a matter of weeks but the Hove Park campaign is a model of how to bring people together and use every avenue available to pile on the pressure. Already the campaign is receiving invitations to meetings around the country.
It has certainly been noticed by heads and governors around Brighton, who will be thinking twice about pushing on with a conversion.
Socialists know that the majority of people oppose school privatisation, but that too many think nothing can be done about it. Hove Park helps show that if you fight, you can win!
In The Socialist 1 October 2014:
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