School campaigners win award

Staff and parents campaigning to stop the Department for Education from forcing Moulsecoomb Primary School to become an academy have been awarded the Brighton & Hove Trades Council “Miners Lamp Award” for campaign of the year. The lamp was gifted to the Trades Council by the National Union of Mineworkers for its support of the year long miners’ strike in the 1980s.

Since the school was rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted in April 2019, an alliance of the staff trade unions (NEU, UNISON, GMB), parents and community campaigners have been fighting to keep the school locally run. The campaign has involved a march and rally, protests and solidly supported strike action in November which saw around 140 people join the picket line outside of the school.

So far, the campaign has seen three multi-academy trusts withdraw from the process of taking over the school. The last of which withdrew in December following parent protests at the school gates during visits by the academy trust.

Accepting the award on behalf of staff, teacher and NEU rep Calvin Cumiskey, said:

“It is a great honour to be involved in an ongoing campaign which has brought a community together, with the tenacity of the staff, the experience of the union, the support of the council and most importantly the sheer drive and determination of parents;we are united. They all deserve to be applauded and this incredible award has touched us all very deeply, which is truly a healing medicine in these troubled times.”

Parent campaigner, Natasha Ide, representing the parent campaigners added:

“It was very uplifting to see how many supporters we have who appreciate the hard work that parents have put into this campaign. Hopefully the Secretary of State for Education will revoke the academy order so our school can be left alone to concentrate on educating our children. Until that happens the parents will continue to campaign against any academy that tries to take over.”

In February Ofsted returned to the school to conduct a monitoring visit. Although a monitoring visit does not change the Ofsted category, which campaigners believe could lead to the Government reversing the decision to turn the school into an academy, the report showed that the school is improving in all areas. Ofsted also reported that progress had been hindered, in part, by the distraction of the academy order. This suggests that had the school not been forced into an academy conversion process that improvements would have been even greater.

Photos by Dave Jones (NEU)

Pictured from left to right: Natasha Ide (parent), Calvin Cumiskey(teacher), Kay Hunt (teacher), Craig Arden (NEU Regional Officer)