“Keep up the pressure”

That was the message from Anti Academies Alliance National Secretary, Alastair Smith, at the AAA Annual General Meeting on Saturday. He was delivering his annual report, following a number of updates from current campaigns. These included the one at Gladstone Park in Brent, where a previously ‘Good’ school was judged ‘Inadequate’ in the November inspection and the day following the publication of the report, the school heard it was being forced to become an academy. There are currently weekly campaign meetings involving parents and they have created a lot of media interest. Their local MP is Sarah Teather, former schools minister, who has arranged a meeting of the governors with Michael Gove.

The meeting also heard from teachers at the Alec Reed Academy in West London where teachers have staged a three day strike because of the appalling bullying attitude of the management. As the West London Academy, this was one of the original academies under Labour. The horror stories were given as a warning of what can happen in academies further down the line.

In general discussion during the meeting, further stories about campaigns were given. These included, Downhills, Roke Primary — who are planning a demonstration this coming Tuesday at the Croydon headquarters of the Harris organisation which is ‘pencilled in’ to take them over — and Connaught Girls School in Waltham Forest,  where a ten day strike did not prevent academisation.

Colleagues also reported from Leicester, Lancashire and Sheffield.

A key point made by several speakers throughout the meeting was the role of the Labour Party. There were clearly a number of Labour members present and they agreed it was necessary to put pressure on the Party and on shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, in particular.

The meeting was shown an excellent film called Academies and Lies, available on Youtube. Follow this link:

http://m.youtube.com/?reload=3&rdm=mjm0387g9#/watch?v=rRjK-_MlrC0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DrRjK-_MlrC0

We were also urged to look out for a film recently made and shortly to be posted on the NAHT website and to watch The Sunday Politics tomorrow (17 March) which will include an item on academies/free schools.

In summing up, Alastair said the purpose of the AAA was to “continue the task of breaking down the myth of academies”. All the research, he said, showed that academies narrowed rather than extended the curriculum. He thought the process of academisation was likely to continue apace, perhaps even accelerate. The job of the AAA was to continue to put pressure on Michael Gove and on Labour.

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