Staff and parents strike again over Willesden school academy plans

Fat Cats are booed as strike action continues at St Andrew and St Francis Primary School in Belton R

Fat Cats are booed as strike action continues at St Andrew and St Francis Primary School in Belton Road - Credit: Archant

Campaigners for a Willesden primary school were back on the picket line this week fighting plans to turn it into an academy and will do it again next week if pleas are not heard.

Parents and children joined teachers and support staff from St Andrew & St Francis CofE Primary School in Belton Road, as took strike action on Wednesday over plans to convert the school’s status in what is feared to be slow privatisation, with a fourth strike planned for next Thursday.

Two ‘Fat Cats’ informed the crowd that they were hoping to makes ‘loadsa money’ from schools like

this when education was privatised. They were resoundingly booed.

Campaigners are claiming the school is being forced to change to an academy status after it was placed under special measures following one visit by education watchdogs Ofsted last year but has since been recognised as having made improvements.

Under government rules, special measure schools are forced by the Department for Education to convert to an academy. This means the school is no longer under local authority control and instead it is funded by central government and given its own sponsors.

The school is currently being overseen by Alison Loffler, executive head teacher of John Keble Primary School in Crownhill Road, Harlesden, and an Interim Executive Board (IEB).

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Jean Roberts, Brent National Union of Teachers secretary said: “The staff don’t want to have to keep taking strike action. They find it unbelievable that the IEB won’t agree for a parental ballot so we are now asking the council, asking everybody, to see if they can put pressure on them to do that. It would mean we would take no more strike action and we’d abide by whatever the parents said and hope the IEB does too.”

Parents have organised a petition and are demanding an independently overseen ballot with full information of the arguments for and against an academy.

Ms Roberts added: “Parents of over 300 children are on this petition so that shows that the majority of parents don’t want the school to become an academy and blows out of the water the fact that the IEB is saying it’s had a consultation and the parents are for it.

Irene Scorer, parent, thanked staff and parents for supporting the action saying an open meeting for next Thursday 30 at 7.00 pm at St Andrew’s Church in the High Road has been organised.

A Brent Council spokesman said: “We are aware that the teaching trade unions are against St Andrew’s and St Francis becoming an academy; however, it is important to note that the majority of parents who took part in the consultation earlier this year on the school becoming an academy said they were in favour of the proposal.”