The ‘Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary’ campaign is stepping up action to stop the community school from being taken over by a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). It has announced a march and rally on Saturday 15th May and invited councillors, community groups, school staff and other Brighton and Hove residents to join them. The march, which is expected to be loud and lively, will start from the school at 10am and proceed south on the Lewes Road to a rally at the Level at midday. Organisers will ensure that Covid rules apply.
A previous rally against academization, in 2019, showed the strength of opposition to the New Horizons Academy Trust taking over the school and campaigners were delighted when it withdrew its interest. But the government has refused to budge with its privatization plans. Letters to Baroness Berridge, who was given responsibility for the decision, have been left unanswered. She has never visited the school and has refused to engage with parents and staff.
Since the Baroness announced that The Pioneer Academy (TPA) would be imposed on the school, the CEO of the Trust, Lee Mason-Ellis, has received over 1000 letters from people calling on him to withdraw. Staff at the school, who are all members of NEU, GMB or UNISON, took two days of strike action on 28th and 29th April. Lee Mason-Ellis has attempted to convince parents that he will listen to their concerns. But he has been given short shrift. 96% of parents expressed their opposition to an academy takeover in a ballot and they are determined that their school will stay as part of the Brighton and Hove family of schools.
Staff and parents are calling on Pioneer to withdraw. Pioneer are based in South London and do not run any schools locally. Campaigners believe that Pioneer are aiming to take over other schools in Brighton and Hove, after Moulsecoomb Primary. Brighton and Hove runs five times as many schools as Pioneer, yet the CEO, Lee Mason-Ellis, chooses to pay himself significantly more than the Director of Children’s Services for the council. Academy schools get the same funding as local authority schools, so the more money devoted to senior staff pay, the less is available for teaching children in the classroom.