Strike action at Moulsecoomb school announced over forced academisation

Moulsecoomb Primary School (photo from Google Maps Street View)
Moulsecoomb Primary School (photo from Google Maps Street View)

GMB union members at Moulsecoomb Primary School have unanimously voted in favour of strike action over plans to turn it into an academy.

Last month the Government’s Regional Schools Commissioner told the governors and Brighton and Hove City Council that the New Horizons Academy Trust (NHAT) had been selected to run the school.

Parents, unions and the council all expressed anger and disappointment at the decision.

In a recent ballot, 96 per cent of parents and carers who took part said they were against their school becoming an academy.

All three unions representing staff at the school along with parent groups, councillors and MPs have been calling for a re-inspection of the school as they believe that Moulsecoomb is not a failing school and therefore does not have to be forced into academisation.

Concerns have also been raised about the past performance of NHAT taking over other schools.

Jo Viner, GMB senior school representative, said: “GMB will not allow the door to open for the privatisation of our education system. We will be discussing the upcoming timetable for strike action with staff & other trade unions.

“GMB will continue to organise, represent and campaign for the interests of school staff and students if their school is forced in to the hands of an academy trust, currently proposed to be New Horizons Academy Trust.

“Academies are independently run, state-funded schools receiving their funding directly from the Department for Education, severing the link between local authorities and schools. Academisation removes schools from local accountability and democracy thereby removing the freedom of choice for local communities.”

Mark Turner, GMB branch secretary, added: “While assurances are often given about the future of staff’s terms and conditions of employment after academisation, just for starters, academies do not follow national pay scales for teachers or support staff and have the option to opt out of the national curriculum so any assurances aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

“Staff who move to academies can lose their built-up entitlement to maternity pay. Staff who later return to local authority employment will have lost many rights and new staff joining an academy will not get the same terms and conditions as those who transferred when the school converted. There are no legal barriers to stop terms and conditions changing following academy conversion.

“We all recognise that strike action is always the last resort but we will not stand by and allow the school to be taken from the local community and local education authority putting the future of children’s education and staff’s terms and conditions at risk.”