20 March 2015
Here is the latest press release from joint unions involved in the anti-academies campaign in Lewisham:
As Prendergast Governors press ahead with their consultation…
LEWISHAM STAFF UNIONS TAKE STRIKE ACTION TO OPPOSE THE DAMAGING PRENDERGAST ACADEMY PLANS ON TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY MARCH 24/25
Lewisham GMB, NASUWT and NUT are deeply disappointed that the Leathersellers’ Federation Governing Board has apparently chosen to start its formal consultation into academy conversion next week. It is regrettable that Governors are pushing ahead with their controversial proposal at a time when the school community should be concentrating on supporting students preparing for exams. Governors had no need to proceed to a consultation at this time.
The Chair of Governors’ letter to staff on February 12 stated clearly that the Governing Board “has been advised to postpone consultation until after the general election”. Now, instead of waiting for a new Government to be formed, it seems that they have decided to push ahead.
Staff recognise that this is a particularly important stage in the school year for students. Unions had been considering whether, if Governors were prepared to postpone consultation until after the May 7 Election as they had originally suggested, then we might also postpone the action called for March 24 and 25.
However, we are now left with little choice but to take that action. While our action may temporarily disrupt students’ education, we believe that the long-term consequences of an academy conversion will cause long-lasting and permanent damage to education in the Federation and beyond. Unions believe that we have a responsibility to take action to oppose this damaging proposal.
Our action will again show the strength of feeling amongst staff against the proposed academy conversion. As well as making clear our deep concerns about the potential threat to staff pay, conditions and trade union facilities, we hope that our action will also make parents and the local community understand how vital it is that they speak out against the proposals during the upcoming consultation period.
Regrettably, it appears that the Governing Board has also failed to listen to parents’ requests for a full parental ballot over the proposed academy conversion. If the Governing Board were sure of their arguments, then what have they to fear from such a vote? We hope that, as happened in Brighton, Lewisham Council will itself be prepared to carry out such a democratic ballot. Neither does it seem likely that Governors will be giving those opposed to the proposals equal opportunity to distribute their views as those in favour.
That’s why, on the two strike days, union members will be volunteering to circulate materials across the local community calling on parents and other residents to object to the damaging academy proposals.
Striking staff care about education. It is Governors that have chosen to apply to become ‘controversial and unproven’ academies and it is they who have chosen this unnecessary timetable. The Governing Board must take responsibility for the inevitable division and disruption that will result from their decision. Statement issued by Lewisham NUT, NASUWT and GMB on March 19th 2015