Hundreds sign petition against academisation of Moulsecoomb school

Posted On 07 Jun 2019 at 3:07 pm

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition protesting a Government order to turn Moulsecoomb Primary School into an academy.

The order was made this month after the school was rated inadequate by Ofsted inspectors.

In January last year, the school agreed to reduced its intake by 30 pupils from September because not enough pupils were applying for places.

The school then moved to slash 11 jobs – about 40% of the school’s support staff – although the threat of compulsory redundancy was lifted after a campaign by parents and unions.

At the time, the GMB union said the school had a projected deficit of £318,000 if it took no action.

Now, the government has told Brighton and Hove City Council it is looking for a sponsor to take over the running of the school.

One of the parents who started the petition, Becky, said: “It’s been a big team effort involving parents, staff and the unions.

“The Ofsted results were very upsetting for staff and parents alike. It was a very hard read.

“I see how hard the staff work and that they genuinely care about our children. I know my children are happy at school and learning well.

“My youngest child has a lot of extra support at school, and because of this, his progress has been astounding.

“Our school is inclusive of all children, whatever the needs, abilities and backgrounds are. Just pause and think about that and the amazing job the school are already doing.

“I felt like Ofsted were blinkered, that they were not really seeing or acknowledging the great work that is being done at our school. I was so shocked.

“Then we received the news that the Department for Education were saying our school needed to be converted to an academy.

“There are strong feelings amongst parents, staff, and the local community against this. This simply cannot happen and as a community we will fight this.

“We don’t want our school to be part of a multi-academy trust, with zero accountability, with very questionable sky high salaries to its CEO.

“There is lots of information about why academies are not a good idea. I would have serious concerns over how inclusive academies can be and that they can employ unqualified teachers. What about the fact they do not have to follow the national curriculum?

“Moulsecoomb Primary School parents are fully supportive of the school and staff. The school is a big part of the local community.

“We want it to continue to be supported by our local council.”

Brighton and Hove City Council has called for a re-inspection of the school, and says it will conduct a ballot of parents.

The city’s teaching union branches are also united in opposition to the plans.

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “The GMB is entirely against academisation and will fully support this campaign along with other staff, unions, parents/carers, pupils and the community as a whole.

“Working together we will not stand by and allow the back door privatisation of children’s education, culminating in our members being forced to a new employer against their wishes and risking detrimental changes to their current terms and conditions.

“The required and desired improvements are best achieved by the school working in partnership with the Local Education Authority but circumstances certainly haven’t been aided by ever decreasing budgets due to Conservative Government cuts.

“We will tirelessly campaign to revoke this order and urge everyone in Brighton and Hove to send the message, Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary, loud and clear.”

Paul Shellard, Brighton and Hove NEU secretary said: “This will be a clear test to see whether the government respects local democracy and accountability, or rides roughshod over the wishes of Moulsecoomb staff and parents.

“We are determined that Moulsecoomb stays in the Brighton and Hove family of schools.”

Sue Beatty, Brighton and Hove Unison branch secretary said: “Evidence shows academies do not have better outcomes for children and this branch is determined to ensure that Moulsecoomb Primary does not become an Academy.

“Contractual terms and conditions for our members will suffer, leading to low morale and high turnover of staff; this can never be good for the children and their families who use such a great community school. We will play our full part in this wide-ranging campaign to save Moulsecoomb Primary.”

Hildi Mitchell, Brighton and Hove NAHT secretary said: “We do not believe that forcing Moulsecoomb Primary to become an academy will automatically deliver improvement.

“Every school should be able to choose the governance arrangements which are best for the school. We support Moulsecoomb in its journey towards improvement through continued partnership with the Local Authority and other local schools, rather than through becoming an academy.”

As well as the petition, the Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary School campaign has also launched a Facebook page, and is holding an open meeting at the school on Tuesday, 18 June at 6pm.

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