Schools

It's class inequality that blights school

The Tory-dominated Education select committee released a report, The Forgotten: How white working class pupils have been let down, on 22 June. The main conclusion of the report should have been: poor students are disadvantaged at school and New Labour and Tory education “reforms” coupled with cuts, austerity and increasing inequality in the UK have made matters worse. Labour members of the committee commented, “The evidence we received clearly indicated that the main determining factors of poor educational outcomes were class and regional inequalities caused by more than a decade of austerity...

Women's Fightback: Combatting sexism through democracy

The Department for Education has promised more support for schools to tackle sexual abuse and has strengthened safeguarding guidance. This was in response to a review by Ofsted that concluded that sexual harassment has become “normalised” for young people, in school. The report, published on 10 June, concluded that school inspections by Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate were “sometimes not robust enough” on sexual harassment and there was not always appropriate cooperation between schools and safeguarding teams. It found that teachers “consistently underestimate” the scale of the...

Reject "catch up" blather: fight school cuts!

On 2 June the government announced a £1.4bn “Covid Catch-up” programme for pupils and students, to cover up to six million sets of 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils and expansion of an existing fund for helping 16- to 19-year-olds with subjects such as English and maths. Kevan Collins, the government’s “Catch-up tsar” resigned after the announcement. According to the Financial Times, he and education secretary Gavin Williamson wanted to pay teachers to extend the school day by 30 minutes, and that was vetoed by chancellor Rishi Sunak on grounds of cost. Sunak spent £0.84...

Three wins, two setbacks

The United Learning academy chain has pulled back from dismissing teacher and National Education Union (NEU) activist Kirstie Paton.

A victory at Pimlico Academy

Staff and students at Pimlico Academy in London have already seen a first victory. On 18 May, the day before a National Education Union (NEU) ballot for strike action closed, head teacher Daniel Smith announced he would leave on 31 May. Student protest and the threat of workers’ action has seen off the ultimate school bully. Staff have been organising over bullying management; failure to address accusations of racism; lack of adequate safeguarding and unreasonable workload. The NEU strike ballot, which closed last week, came back with a resounding yes vote, and staff are due to hold their...

Marching for Moulsecoomb

Hundreds of parents, kids, workers and supporters braved the rain to march from Moulsecoomb primary school to a rally at The Level in Brighton on Saturday 15 May, demanding that the school remain in local authority control. Despite overwhelming opposition, the Department for Education is persisting in trying to force Moulsecoomb to become an Academy. Under Tory laws building on New Labour’s Academies policy, it does not matter if workers, students, parents, the local council and community all oppose Academy status — as they do in the case of Moulsecoomb — it can still go ahead so long as there...

NEU: make defence of reps central!

Chaired by victimised National Education Union (NEU) rep Tracy McGuire, the Defend Victimised NEU Reps Zoom meeting on Thursday 29 April heard from victimised NEU reps and how the fightback is shaping up. First to address the meeting was Louise Lewis, NEU rep at North Huddersfield Trust School, suspended last year after seeking to secure safer working during the pandemic. NEU members at the school voted for strike action to defend Louise and are striking for two days, with more to follow. Kirstie Paton, a teacher at the John Roan School in Greenwich, London, for 20 years, NEU rep, and an NEU...

Kino Eye: School rebellion

The school students’ rebellion at the Pimlico Academy (see Solidarity 587) brings to mind the classic anti-school film Zero de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), made in France and directed by Jean Vigo back in 1933. Returning to their dreary boarding school after the holidays, four students become increasingly angered by the petty discipline, appalling food, and bullying, obnoxious Headmaster. They stage a protest and the Parents’ Open Day ends in total chaos while the boys make their escape over the rooftops. Vigo went on to direct only one more film, L’Atalante (1934), a romantic tale of workers...

Close votes at NEU conference

The National Education Union (NEU) met online from 7 to 9 April for an annual conference of reduced length due to the exigencies of having to meet online.

“Kick the racist out!” Rebellion at Pimlico Academy

Update, 27 April: Pimlico workers vote for strike ballot - see here




On Wednesday 31 March, their last day of term, almost a thousand students at Pimlico Academy, the flagship school run by Future Academies, sat down in the playground and refused to go to lessons.

The students were...

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