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Big victory at Small Heath School against academy attack
Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party
The third week of strike action in the Small Heath School dispute in Birmingham due to run from 2 to 4 February was called off after the sponsors of the proposed academy withdrew their interest on 29 January.
The scale of this victory can't be underestimated. Many schools in Birmingham have been turned into academies with no organised resistance from staff or parents and many schools thought that there was nothing that could be done to stop them.
Small Heath has proved them wrong; not only was the NUT teachers' union solid but members of other education unions, NASUWT and ATL, also came out on some of the strike days.
There is no doubt that the academy sponsors threw the towel in because they don't want to deal with a militant and campaigning union organisation.
The strike was well organised from day one, with a high level of participation from NUT members. Crucially, a number of meetings for parents were organised which helped ensure that the majority of the parents supported the strike.
This victory also shows that those behind academies are out to turn education into a business and that a union branch that campaigns to defend quality education and against bullying management and cuts to staffing is something they don't want.
The proposal to get rid of 71 out of 200 staff has also been scrapped.
The suspension of NUT rep Simon O'Hara has still not been lifted (there is no doubt Simon was suspended to try to break the strike action, as reported in issue 886) and this is now the subject of a separate dispute, with NUT members unanimously voting to strike on 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25 February.
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