Public meeting in opposition to academy plans for schools

Telscombe Cliffs parents Amanda Tams and Dagmara Dimitriou leafletting at the school gate. Photograph by Craig Arden
Telscombe Cliffs parents Amanda Tams and Dagmara Dimitriou leafletting at the school gate. Photograph by Craig Arden

Concerned parents and unions have called a public meeting to oppose academy plans at two schools.

Those involved are Peacehaven Heights and Telscombe Cliffs Primary Schools.

Governors at the two schools have been told by East Sussex County Council that they must academise and join a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).

Governors wrote to parents last month informing them that “On the advice of the LA, to ensure continuous improvement and bring further capacity to the school in terms of leadership, we must now join an academy trust.”

In alliance with the National Education and GMB unions and inspired by the Save Lewes Schools campaign, which successfully saw off plans to convert six Lewes schools into a MAT earlier last month, parents have set up their own campaign to save the schools.

The Hands off Our Schools Facebook page (@HandsOffOurSchools) has already received more than 300 likes and an online petition calling on Stuart Gallimore, East Sussex County Council’s director of children’s services, to halt the plans has been signed by more than 500 people in under a week.

Alice Burchfield, who has two children at Peacehaven Heights, said: “I am deeply concerned about the forced academisation of our school and what it means for our children.

“Academies have not been shown to raise attainment, and come with worrying risks such as unqualified teachers, less money reaching the classroom and less accountability to parents.

“Our children deserve better. Peacehaven Heights is a lovely and successful school as it is. We don’t need academisation.”

National Education Union and GMB members working at the two schools have already passed anti-academy resolutions calling upon the governors of both schools to “join with staff and parents in rejecting the unacceptable position of the local authority that we should privatise the school(s).”

Lib Whitfield, GMB organiser, said: “It is completely unacceptable for ESCC to wash its hands of its responsibilities to our children’s education and force any school to become a private academy by threatening the school’s Governors.

“The academisation agenda has failed and our schools are best supported when part of the local authority.

“Parents, staff and the local community need to stand together against the aggressive threats of the council to ensure our children’s education remains in public hands.”

The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 6, at the Telscombe Civic Centre 6.30-8pm. For further details see https://www.facebook.com/events/2238852932825624/