Staff at Moulsecoomb Primary in Brighton took strike action today (24 March) against renewed plans to convert the school into an academy.
The plans have proved extremely unpopular with staff and parents at the school and strike action took place previously in 2020. Members of UNISON, GMB and NEU had no option but to revert to industrial action once a fresh attempt to turn the school into an academy was launched earlier this year.
The three unions represent almost every member of staff at Moulsecoomb and the school was closed for the day as a result of the strike. Members of the three unions agreed to cover the cost of lunches for children at the school so they did not miss out as a consequence of the industrial action.
The future of Moulsecoomb Primary is currently being discussed by the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Headteacher Board. The unions’ aim to keep Moulsecoomb Primary School as part of Brighton and Hove City Council Schools and hope that the academy trusts will withdraw their bids to take over the school.
Covid restrictions meant that last year’s carnival like strike day could not be repeated, but picket lines were maintained throughout and striking workers were visited in a Covid safe way by supportive city councillors and parents.
Covid couldn’t stop a strong sense of community developing which was accompanied by music, singing, drumming and a non-stop chorus of supportive car, van and lorry horns signalling their support.
The next potential Multi Academy Trust sponsor is expected to be named by the Regional Schools Commissioner tomorrow, but the campaign has previously been successful in ending the interest of several potential MATs. Those still publicly in the running – The Pioneer Academy Trust, Chancery Trust and Schoolsworks Academy Trust – have come under fire for ducking scrutiny on social media and blocking questions from elected city councillors.
Staff hope that today’s action will lead to an announcement that the academisation plans have been dropped for good, but there are two more strike dates planned for next month in the event their concerns are not listened to.