A key dispute in the battle against education privatisation has been unfolding at John Roan school in Greenwich. Support staff will be on strike again on 11–13 December, and teachers will again refuse to cross picket lines if they are not able to strike themselves by then. Colin Revolting reports.
In 2010 the newly elected government stated their wish to remove all schools from democratic local authority control. Around 70% of secondary schools and nearly 30% of primary schools are now academies run by private trusts. There are a number of ways this has happened. One is through Ofsted inspections. If Ofsted deems a school to be inadequate it must be given to a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).
John Roan School in Greenwich has been issued with a government order forcing it to become an academy. Campaigners at the school have discovered this has been a stitch-up by Ofsted inspectors, CEO of a MAT, former council officers and the Department for Education National Schools Commissioner. Despite the forces ranged against them, teachers, support staff, parents, pupils and others in the community have been campaigning for eight months to defend their school from privitisation.
Seven days of strike action have seen lively community picket lines with singing, dancing, performance art, poetry, bagels, cake and a radical vicar playing bagpipes. The picket lines have turned into open air public meetings featuring a wide range of people speaking: Momentum-supporting councillors, anti-academy campaigners from across London, a former Academy school chaplain, John Roan school staff, parents, pupils and the local Labour Councillor making his first ever speech.
Last month Greenwich council sent a letter to the NEU teachers’ union threatening legal action against a scheduled three days of strike action. The NEU National action committee withdrew the action despite the fact it had been overwhelmingly voted for by members at the school. Fortunately the local GMB managed to prevent a similar letter and went ahead with their strike action on 29 November and John Roan NEU members refused to cross GMB picket lines.
GMB members are striking against the threat of redundancies which would be the consequence of an academy takeover. As GMB Greenwich President explains in the video the proposed MAT, “Will take 5% of the school budget for services instead of 0.5% which the council take currently”.
GMB have voted to strike for 11, 12 and 13 December and NEU members intend to again not cross the picket lines and be on strike together.
Come and join the picket lines between 7:30-9:30am outside The John Roan, Westcombe Park Road, SE3 7QR and please send messages of support to email@example.com
John Roan Resists
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A strike support find has been set up to avoid the hardship this may cause staff.