Teachers in the National Education Union (NEU) at Moulsecoomb Primary School have voted unanimously to take strike action to prevent the school from being taken over by an academy trust. Every single vote cast was in favour of taking strike action, with a turnout of 82.6%. Now the union is planning to take strike action on Thursday 21st November.
In April, an “academy order” was placed on the school by the Government. This order will force the school to become an academy, ignoring the wishes of parents, staff and the council. Since then parents, teachers, support staff, local councillors and local MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle have been campaigning relentlessly for the academy order to be revoked and the school to remain locally run.
NEU rep and teacher, Calvin Cumiskey, commented:
“Every single member of staff at Moulsecoomb is united in opposition to our school being forced to become an academy. Teachers have voted resoundingly to take action to defend our school and we expect the support staff union’s ballots to show the same as ours once complete.
“We know that strike action will create difficulties for some parents, and this has always been the last resort for us. Now that an academy trust has been selected to take over the school, we feel we have no choice but to use strike action.”
Fierce local opposition to the academy plans has already seen University of Brighton Academies Trust and STEP Academy Trust withdraw from the process after marches and protests were held. However, last week news broke that Lancing based New Horizons Academy Trust (NHAT) is now in line to take over the school by February.
Serious failings identified in trust set to take over
The NEU argues that NHAT is unfit to take over Moulsecoomb due to its limited experience of running schools. The trust currently runs just one primary school, in Lancing, having lost another in January 2019. Durrington Multi Academy Trust ended up having to take over NHAT’s second school, The Laurels Primary midway through the last academic year, at which point they uncovered serious failings.
According to DMAT accounts, after taking on the school they found that “standards were poor”, “no financial information was seen by the Governing Body” for almost a year and “the budget was out of control”. Key Stage 2 “had been greatly overlooked, and basic systems were not in place”. A nursery attached to the school had to be closed after “it became clear… that the nursery had not been setup with a sound business plan”.
Paul Shellard, NEU Brighton & Hove Branch Secretary said:
“The result of the ballot clearly shows that NEU members are united, and willing to fight this academy order that has been imposed on the school by the Government against the wishes of staff, parents and the wider community.