Brighton school staff plan strike tomorrow over looming academy decision

Posted On 23 Mar 2021 at 5:18 pm

Staff at a Brighton school are due to strike tomorrow (Wednesday 24 March) over plans to force it to become an academy.

The strike is taking place the day before an official decision is expected on which “multi-academy trust” will be asked to run Moulsecoomb Primary School.

Three trusts are in the running to become the “sponsor” of Moulsecoomb Primary, which is currently a local authority maintained school in the Brighton and Hove City Council family of schools.

They are understood to be the Pioneer Academy, the Chancery Education Trust and Schoolsworks Academy Trust.

The strike today, involving members of three unions, is the first of three strike dates, with staff also scheduled to walk out on Wednesday 28 April and Thursday 29 April.

The unions – the National Education Union (NEU), the GMB and Unison – said that further strikes would be postponed if the sponsors withdrew from the process.

They are calling on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to “to drop the forced academisation of the school”.

They added that the decision was being made “against the wishes of the local community, the school and its staff”.

The Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary School campaign group held a virtual meeting on Wednesday 10 March, with 120 people taking part.

The unions said that they “heard unions, parents, councillors and the local MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, condemn the undemocratic privatisation threat opposed by 96 per cent of parents in a formal ballot”.

They also said: “Those attending the meeting were shocked to learn of a serious conflict of interest.

“The regional director of schools for the Pioneer Academy was part of the Ofsted inspection team that rated Moulsecoomb Primary School as inadequate in 2019.

“Three other academy sponsors have previously withdrawn their interest following pressure from the Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary School group and campaigners have called on the three new sponsors to pull out too.

“Since the public meeting, the chief education officers of the three trusts have received over 500 email messages from campaign supporters requesting that they withdraw.

Moulsecoomb Primary School

“On Wednesday 17 March, two of the trusts took down their Twitter accounts due to the negative publicity they were receiving – and campaigners discovered that their tweets had been blocked.

“Staff and parent campaigners are determined that their school will not be forced out of the Brighton and Hove family of schools.

“They point to the evidence that schools under local authority control have a much better record of making improvements.

“This is borne out by the significant improvement in Moulsecoomb Primary’s SATs results released in the same academic year as the inspection.

“Staff working at Moulsecoomb Primary also raised their concerns about reductions in resources for teaching and learning.

“Local authority and academy schools are funded on the same formula basis but multi-academy trusts (MATs) devote more money to paying senior staff, leaving less for spending in the classroom.”

The unions said that the Pioneer Academy’s chief executive, for example, costs each school about £15,000 a year.

This compared with the £2,000-a-year cost of the council’s executive director for families, children and learning although the council has responsibility for many more school.

  1. Chaz. Reply

    Teachers and unions going on strike?
    Next, we will get wet when it rains.

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