School staff strike to protest academisation

NEU and GMB members at Peacehaven schools will come together to protest academisation by going on strike

Three quarters of Peacehaven town’s schools are expected to be shut as teachers and support staff belonging to the NEU and GMB unions go on strike.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, who has spoken out against the academisation plans and in support of the campaign, will visit pickets at Peacehaven Community School, Peacehaven Heights Primary School and Telscombe Cliffs Community Primary Schools.

Almost 100 parents and members of the wider community are expected to join striking teachers and support staff for a rally in Peacehaven’s Centenary Park at 11am, followed by a march through the town.

In January, governors at Peacehaven Heights and Telscombe Cliffs Community Primary Schools wrote to parents, saying: “On the advice of the local authority (East Sussex County Council), to ensure continuous improvement and bring further capacity to the school in terms of leadership, we must now join an academy trust.”

This led to staff at the two schools voting for strike action and the formation of a community campaign group @HandsOffOurSchools whose petition against the move at change.org has received over 1,000 signatures.

A consultation over the academisation of Peacehaven Community School took place in early 2017; conversion has been delayed and the school has since improved.

Phil Clarke, secretary of the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden National Education Union said: “What the staff and community are asking for is very simple, East Sussex Council needs to stop doing behind the scenes deals, which give our schools to private chains like The Swale Academies Trust.

“They then need to make sure every school in Peacehaven has an elected governing body and those governors should not be pressured to hand over our schools.”

Jack Tyler, National Education Union Regional Officer, said: “Staff do not take the decision to strike lightly, but this is about the long-term future of these three community schools.

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“We had hoped to be able to reach a negotiated settlement to these disputes, but despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure meetings with governing bodies concerned.

“I hope this action demonstrates to East Sussex County Council and the governing bodies of the schools the strength of feeling amongst staff, parents and the wider community and results in the withdrawal of the plans to privatise Peacehaven’s community schools.”

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