Brighton and Hove’s schools need solidarity, not selling off

Nancy Platts, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton and Hove City Council. Photograph: Michael Crabtree
Nancy Platts, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton and Hove City Council. Photograph: Michael Crabtree

Save Moulsecoomb Primary rang out across The Level last Saturday lunchtime.

From tiny tots to teachers, from parents to politicians, we heard how much the community value their local school.

I was proud to be invited to join the march and speak at the rally on behalf of the Labour Party and as leader of the council.

There was clear anger at unelected civil servants taking the decision to force Moulsecoomb Primary to become an academy school.

I met with representatives of the regional school commissioner to ask them to re-think this outrageous and undemocratic decision. At that meeting, I pointed out that the Tory government’s austerity policies have meant years of chronic underfunding for our local schools. Our teachers have been battling against the odds for years. They have been battling to do the best for our local children.

I asked for a commitment from the commissioner’s team that they would accept and act on the outcome of a parental ballot. I asked for reasonable time for our school improvement plan to demonstrate more progress. They would give no such assurances. Instead, they made their disregard for the views of local people and the local councillors that you elected to represent you, very clear. We have now written directly to the Secretary of State to exercise his powers to revoke the forced academy order without delay. It is not acceptable for unelected civil servants to decide the fate of our local schools.

Our excellent Shadow Secretary of State Angela Rayner MP sent a message of support too. She joined the calls for government to give local people a genuine say over the future of their schools and their children’s education.

A future Labour government will end the forced conversion of local schools to academies and instead focus on delivering what works to get the best results for pupils. We will give power back to communities so that our schools are run by the people who know them best – parents, teachers and local communities.

Our schools are at the heart of the community – they need support and solidarity, not selling off. Let the parents decide.