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Lewisham: Marching against academies
Beth Sutcliffe, Lewisham Socialist Party
Amid loud chants of "No ifs! No buts! Academy status sucks!" and "Parents, teachers, students say: Academies in Lewisham? No way!" around 300 protesters demonstrated through Lewisham in South London on Saturday 21 March.
The threatened change to academy status at the three Prendergast schools would take them out of the control of the elected local authority. The schools would be able to change their curriculum and cut employees pay, terms and conditions.
"Hands off our school"
Some students had made their own placards, with messages like "We are not for sale" and "Hands off our school".
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition parliamentary candidate and National Union of Teachers (NUT) executive member Martin Powell-Davies, leading the rally at Hilly Fields, said Prendergast governors had not expected such a high level of opposition to their plans.
A parent praised the action taken by students, which has included taking strike action of their own and supporting striking teachers on picket lines.
Socialist Students held a lunch time ballot of pupils at Hilly Fields campus over whether the school should become an academy. 303 of the 800 students at the school voted. 294 people voted 'no', with only eight saying 'yes' and one undecided.
During the stall, students asked questions about academies, but also told us what they had found out and why they didn't want the school to change.
Parents also demand a ballot, something currently being denied to them by the school governors.
On top of the strikes, protests and student action, a parents' ballot would be further evidence of how the school's community feels about academy status.
- On 24 March, NUT, NASUWT and GMB union members started their latest two-day strike action against academisation at the three Prendergast schools, with well supported picket lines of over 30.
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