The contradiction in cutting public spending and promoting Academy status among all schools, giving them more financial freedoms is not lost among the education sector trade unions. This robbing Peter (and battering him over the head) to pay Paul may have gained some short term interest but will only lead to friction and conflict between schools and communities in the very near future.
The identification of those head teachers who ‘expressed an interest’ in academy status has been a real organising tool. Under the campaigning umbrella of the Public Services Alliance trade unions in the northern region identified all of those schools where head teachers had ticked the box to express their interest in academy status and mobilised trade union members, parents and sympathetic governors to lobby those head teachers and express their concerns about what moving to academy status really means.
The reaction was interesting, a number of the head teachers declared their lack of interest in academy status, confessing that they only ticked the box to be ‘kept informed’. While a small number of schools are seeking to progress this agenda, in the face of a mounting, trade union-led campaign, a higher number have stopped in their tracks as a direct result of the trade union organised campaigns of objection.
While this is clearly the tip of a very big iceberg we can all be encouraged that organised campaigning works!
Kevin Rowan is TUC Northern Regional Secretary