Standing room only at anti-academies meeting

January 10, 2012

No one we spoke to could remember a bigger meeting in Haringey. You’d probably have to go back to the ’80s, when hatred of the Iron Lady and her Tory henchmen united huge numbers of people across the borough.

But here we were, fresh into 2012, with well over 600 people packing out the hall at Downhills to find out about, and overwhelmingly to voice our opposition to, Michael Gove’s proposal to force academy status on our community school.

Gove had branded those behind the campaign as idealogues. But tonight we heard from teachers and parents, of this and other local schools. One after the other they talked of the fallacy of the government’s suggestion that forcing a structure change on a school can improve the outcome for the children.

David Lammy was up to speak first, having jumped on board the campaign when it became obvious that not doing so would have been an embarrassment to him as a constituency MP: Downhills was the primary school he attended and the campaign against the forced academy status was quickly gaining momentum. We shouldn’t forget that it was his government that introduced the academy programme, and he was at pains to stress his opposition only to forced academies. Although his stance at least compares favourable with Lynne Featherbrain’s contribution. In an interview with the Haringey Independent, she reprimanded Downhills campaigners for taking legal action, saying it would be “disruptive” for the pupils. Thanks for that, Lynne.

There were other speakers, from the NUT, National Schools Campaign and the Anti-Academies Alliance, but one of the biggest rounds of applause went to the co-chair of the PTA, who spoke from the floor. The meeting was another massive step forward for the campaign and a testimony to the hard work of a small number of determined locals.

Gove has until 19 January to respond to the school’s suggestion that the forced status is illegal. A march through Haringey is being planned for the 28th as, whatever happens at Downhills, three other Haringey schools are also threatened: Coleraine, Noel Park and Nightingale. Parents, teachers and governors at all these schools should be allowed to decide for themselves how they should be run.

For more information about the campaign, see Haringey Campaign Against Academies.

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