Second day of strike action at Peacehaven Heights School

A second day of strike action was held by union members at Peacehaven Heights Primary school today, over the threat of the school being taken over by an academy.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:46 pm
Union members and campaigners

Following a short picket line outside the school, staff were joined by parents and community members to protest outside County Hall in Lewes – where an in-person full council meeting was being held for the first time in months.

A union official, staff member and parent spoke with councillors.

Craig Arden, National Education Union Regional Officer, said: “Unfortunately, we were not given any assurances today that East Sussex County Council intend to

Union members and campaigners outside the school today

re-instate local governing bodies to decide the future of the schools in Peacehaven at this time.

“They argue that the Interim Executive Board (IEB) and interim leadership have brought stability to the school but refuse to accept that re-instating a local governing body could build on this stability, whilst also deciding whether to put in transitional arrangements to permanent leadership, or to continue with the IEB’s plan to consult on academy conversion.”

The IEB, which has run the school since 2019, has said it will hold a consultation on academisation during the Autumn term.

It has also confirmed that the school’s current interim headteacher will remain in post until Easter 2022.

Kerry Gilbert, who has two children at Peacehaven Heights, said: “I attended the protest outside County Hall today to show my support to staff on strike because I feel incredibly let down by the IEB and the decisions they have made for our school.

“They filled in the swimming pool without any discussion with parents, leaving many children now with no access to swimming lessons.

“They have stopped Beach School which was an incredibly important nurture provision at the school for all the children, particularly those with special

educational needs like my son.

“It has been apparent from the start that behaviour and attendance statistics are much more important to the IEB than pupils’ mental health and well-being.

“I want a local governing body to be put back in place as soon as possible so the community can decide what happens to our school, rather than decisions being forced on us by an IEB.”

Councillor Chris Collier, newly elected County Councillor for Peacehaven, said: “I’m disappointed that staff have been driven to a second day of strike action.

“I am calling on East Sussex County Council to put a local governing body back in place.

“Any consultation can then be carried out by them in a transparent way that puts the best interests of the pupils first.”