March and rally to fight academy plan for Moulsecoomb Primary School

Campaigners fighting to stop academisation plans from going ahead at Moulsecomb Primary School have organised a march and rally.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 9:20 am
Hands off Moulsecoomb Primary School. One of the banner at the latest strike action held at the school

The Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary campaign is stepping up action to stop the community school from being taken over by a Multi-Academy Trust.

The march and rally has been organised for Saturday, May 15, and will start from the school, in The Highway, at 10am and proceed south on the Lewes Road to a rally at the Level at midday. Organisers said they will ensure that Covid rules apply and have invited councillors, community groups, school staff and other Brighton and Hove residents to join them.

The march for Moulsecoomb comes after the announcement last month that The Pioneer Academy had been appointed as the sponsor for the school, despite strong community, union and council opposition to academisation plans. Disappointment as trust appointed as new academy sponsors for Moulsecoomb Primary School.Staff at the school, who are all members of NEU, GMB or UNISON, took two days of strike action on April 28 and 29 as they called on Pioneer to withdraw. In pictures: First day of strike action over academy sponsor for Moulsecoomb Primary SchoolMark Turner, GMB branch secretary, said: “It is obviously very disappointing that this battle has to continue and that The Pioneer Academy haven’t recognised the strength of feeling against their takeover of Moulsecoomb Primary. We now encourage all staff, parents, pupils and the local community of the school, along with those of other schools that could find themselves in a similar situation, to March For Moulsecoomb on Saturday 15th May. We hope there will be a large presence to send a very clear message to The Pioneer Academy and others that no more academies are welcome in Brighton and Hove – GMB will not stand by and allow education to be privatised in this way!

The march and rally plan for May 15 comes after a two-day strike at the school on April 28 and 29

"Pupils’ education this year has already been disrupted enough through Covid and staff want to concentrate their efforts and focus on improving the education on offer so if Pioneer do truly care about pupils and their education, they can prevent further unnecessary disruption by simply confirming they are no longer interested in this take over and walk away.”

The school was rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted in April 2019 which led to the Secretary of State for Education imposing an academy order, which forces the school to join a multi-academy trust.

Since then, campaigners have fought vigorously for the academy order to be revoked, arguing that the school has improved significantly since then, which they say means the school should no longer be eligible for intervention from the Department for Education.

The latest Ofsted inspection, the findings of which were published on March 23 this year, praised the school. Inspectors praise Brighton primary school under threat of academy conversion | Brighton & Hove Independent (brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk)Campaigners were delighted when, in 2019, the New Horizons Academy Trust withdrew its interest in taking over the school following a previous rally. Staff and parents are now, once again, determined their school will stay as part of the Brighton and Hove family of schools. Unions are also calling on The Pioneer Academy to step away.

There was lots of support for the strike held on April 28 and 29

Paul Shellard, NEU branch secretary said: “The march and rally on Saturday 15th May is an opportunity for the community to display solidarity with Moulsecoomb Primary. The privatisation of the school, against the wishes of parents and staff, is undemocratic and disruptive. Academisation will be detrimental to the learning conditions for children and the working conditions for staff. Why place at risk the school’s improvement with Brighton and Hove by bringing in a trust from South London?"