Staff at school in Peacehaven to take strike action over academy plans

Staff at Peacehaven Heights Primary school are set to take strike action over proposals to convert the school into an academy.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 12:13 pm
Pupils held a socially-distanced protest in Peacehaven last month

The Interim Executive Board (IEB), which has run the school since 2019, is planning to hold a consultation on academy conversion in the Autumn term.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) have announced they will go on strike on Wednesday, May 5 over the plans.

A survey of staff at the school found that two thirds said they would be ‘likely or very likely to leave’ if the school was converted into an academy, according to Phil Clarke, Branch Secretary of East Sussex NEU.

Parent campaigners have also been calling for a permanent head teacher to be installed at the school, which they said has had five head teachers in the last five years.

They believe the school has changed ‘dramatically’ under the IEB, pointing to the decision – which they said was made without consultation with parents – to close the school pool and fill it with concrete.

Parents want East Sussex County Council – who imposed the IEB at the school – to re-instate a local governing body, comprised of parents, staff and local people to decide the future of the school.

More than 30 parents, staff members and local politicians attended a zoom meeting this week to discuss these issues.

Parent Vicky Hawkins said: “I am incredibly concerned about the prolonged lack of leadership, constant disruptions and changes in the running of the school due to this revolving door of interim headteachers.

“We need an elected governing body back in place and a headteacher secured very soon in order to restore the nurturing and stable environment our children desperately need.

“The amazing teachers and staff need our support now otherwise I fear most of them will feel forced to leave, and this would be utterly devastating for Peacehaven Heights.”

Another parent, Kelly Wilson, said: “We need to support the hard-working staff and bring the unique community feel back to the school which can only be achieved with a stable head and local governors who have the best interests of

the children at heart.”

Campaigners have setup a letter writing tool that enables parents and community members to easily write to key councillors and ask them to do everything within their power to ensure that the local authority re-instates local governing bodies – view the tool here.

The school’s current interim headteacher will remain in post until Easter 2022, the IEB has confirmed.

The IEB chairman said: “The decision to consult on academy conversion has been made by the Interim Executive Board (IEB) of the school.

“The IEB has confirmed that, in response to concerns from some parents, the board will not hold a consultation until all the current lockdown requirements are removed so that everyone is reassured it is a meaningful consultation.

“This consultation will not, therefore be held until the Autumn term.”

Campaigners fought a previous battle against the academisation of Peacehaven Heights Primary school and Telscombe Cliffs Primary back in 2019, when the county council instructed its governing bodies to explore academy options.

Following strikes by staff and a vocal community campaign, the governing bodies decided against the move.