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Posted on 8 May 2018 at 16:11 GMT

Victory against academisation at Avenue Primary

Now step up the fight for well-funded, democratically-run education in Newham

Pickets at Avenue School, 14.12.17, photo James Ivens

Pickets at Avenue School, 14.12.17, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

Newham Socialist Party

After 19 days of strike action NEU members at Avenue Primary school have successfully forced the head teacher and the governing body to withdraw their plans to turn Avenue into an academy.

The strength and depth of support for the strike was shown by the new ballot (required by the anti-trade union laws) which closed on 2 May and had a 95% yes vote on a 75% turnout.

Throughout, staff have had overwhelming support from parents. Just two weeks ago a meeting of around 70 parents voted unanimously to demand that the academisation proposal be withdrawn.

At the same time a group of parents have taken the head to judicial review over her complete failure to meaningfully consult them over the proposal.

Even in the governors' own consultative survey 132 parents objected to academisation while only four stated they were in favour, yet still the plans were going ahead until the movement against them became unstoppable.

Martin Powell Davies, NEU London regional secretary, and Socialist Party member, explained: "The lively rallies on the school gates on strike days, always supported by dozens of local parents, left governors in no doubt that the campaign showed no signs of weakening.

"The determination and unity across the school community shown at Avenue School over the last six months of action will be an inspiration to other campaigns organising to stop academisation in their schools."

This is an important victory, which will give confidence to other school staff and parents fighting academisation.

However, it is not the end of the struggle. On a Newham-wide level, the Labour council, having presided over widespread academisation in recent years, voted - just before the elections - to oppose further academisation.

The new Labour Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, has also said she will oppose academies. Both moves are to be welcomed.

However, Louise Cuffaro, newly-elected Newham NEU secretary and Socialist Party member, explained: "It is vital that the new council does not leave this policy just as words on a piece of paper, but actively campaigns against academisation.

"This has to be linked to providing local schools with the resources they so desperately need. "

It is the scale of the cuts facing schools which has been a factor in pushing some schools to become academies believing, mistakenly, that it offers an escape from the endless cuts.

Local councils have the power to underwrite school budgets to stop cuts for at least three years. Newham should use that power now.

This should be linked to the incoming Labour council declaring that they will not preside over any more cuts to public services in our borough, but will instead set a no cuts budget - using reserves and borrowing powers to do so - as part of building a movement to defeat the Tory government.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 8 May 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Related links:

Newham:

triangleNewham campaign set up against council cuts and tax hikes

triangleSecret cuts meeting couldn't prevent protests in Newham

triangleStop Newham Labour's cuts and gentrification

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Stop gentrification - Save Queen's Market

triangleEast London school strikes against academisation continue

Parents:

triangleChildcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

triangleAnti-academy strikes kick off in Redbridge

triangleAnti-academy strike action in Newham

triangleBrighton anti-academy campaign steps up

School:

triangleSchools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus

triangleCoronavirus and school closures: what needs to be done now

triangleHackney school bus workers win pay increase following strikes

Cuts:

triangleCouncils must break austerity rules

triangleBook: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

Schools:

triangleItaly on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

Socialist Party:

triangleBasingstoke Socialist Party: 30 years ago - the anti-Poll Tax movement

Council:

triangleGoing viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Labour:

triangleEnd of the Corbyn era

Academies:

triangleAnti-academy strikes growing

London:

triangleAll in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth

Public services:

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders

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