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Campaigning against privatisation of schools in Hackney
Hackney Socialist Party (SP) and International Socialist Resistance (ISR) are campaigning against the threat to turn local secondary schools into city academies.
Suzanne Beishon, Hackney ISR
Hackney's education has been run by a private body, the Learning Trust since 2002. The trust has overseen a dramatic reduction in resources and facilities for schools in Hackney, with the latest attack being the planned closure of Homerton boys' school. It has already set up one city academy in the borough and plans to have four more, as part of the government target of 60 across London.
From the SP and ISR working with local parents, students and teachers, there are action groups in both schools, backed up by the NUT branches. These groups regularly meet together as a Hands off Hackney Schools group.
We have had two big and very lively demonstrations marching from both schools to the Learning Trust to protest outside board meetings. We have had three deputations to the council, spoken in the public sections of trust board meetings (at one the pupils refused to leave so the trust board left instead) and organised public meetings.
The campaign quickly forced the trust to back off on its academy plans for Haggerston girls' school, although they are now trying to turn it into a mixed-sex school, possibly as a stage towards establishing it as an academy. In the build-up to the demonstrations ISR leafleted schools, everyday at some points, and made banners, placards, leaflets. We were outside the schools on the mornings of the protest days to remind pupils to take part later in the day.
On 24 January, 200 angry parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and governors argued that Homerton School should remain open, at a public meeting called by the government's Schools Adjudicator.
One teacher spoke of how some boys were stopped from coming into the meeting despite it being a public meeting. The highlight of the meeting was the five Homerton pupils who did get to speak about their opposition to the proposals.
The next steps in the campaign are sending written objections to the Haggerston proposals and a Hands off Hackney Schools education rally on 8 February, funded by the local NUT branch, where the new attacks being made in the government's education White Paper will be discussed and where we will be planning what to do next.
As an ISR and Socialist Party member I know that these attacks on education will not disappear. They may be postponed but the council and the government will try again in the future. That is why I will be encouraging as many pupils at Haggerston and Homerton schools to come to ISR/Socialist Students conference on 4 March where they can discuss the socialist alternative - a society where education isn't run for a profit.
Come to ISR/Socialist Students conference
- Deadline for resolutions: 10 February.
- Saturday 4 March 2006, 10am-5pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 (near Holborn tube).
In The Socialist 2 February 2006: