TEACHERS may strike in protest at academy plans.

Members of the National Education Union, Unison and GMB unions working at Moulsecoomb Primary in Brighton are to be balloted over strike action.

Each of the unions had written to the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson asking him to revoke the academy order that was imposed on the school by the Government in April after an “inadequate” Ofsted.

This order means the school has no choice but to be taken over by a multi-

academy trust, bringing it out of council control.

The unions say that since the inspection in April, “there has been clear progress in the areas deemed inadequate by Ofsted”.

In their letters to Mr Williamson sent at the beginning of October, the unions describe how their members employed at the school “do not believe that Moulsecoomb Primary is inadequate” and urge him to exercise the discretion given to him in the Academies Act 2010 and “revoke the academy order”.

The three unions did not receive a reply to their letters and now they say they are left with no option but to ballot for strike action.

Paul Shellard, speaking on behalf of all three unions, said: “Teachers, teaching assistants and support staff at Moulsecoomb are united with parents, the council and the community who have made it clear that private academy sponsors are not welcome. The National Education Union, UNISON and GMB unions will stand together in the fight against forced academisation and we fully support our members in taking action if necessary.

“If we are forced to strike, it is because we are left with no other option to prevent the disruptive threat hanging over the school from academy sponsors who have no connection with Brighton and Hove. The Secretary of State has the power to prevent any strikes by acknowledging the school’s improvement and revoking the academy order, and we urge him to do so.”

On Monday 7th October, the results of a council run parent ballot on whether the school should become an academy was announced. 96% of parents voted against the move, with a turnout of 61%.

Parents have been campaigning for the order to be revoked since a public meeting was held at the school in June. More than 300 people marched from the school into town in July. In September parents protested outside the school gates during the visit of a potential academy sponsor, which has since withdrawn from the process.

Last week campaigners hand delivered more than 1,000 post cards signed by members of the community to the Department for Education, calling on the Secretary of State to revoke the order.

Parent Natasha Ide said: “Parents are strongly opposed to our school being taken over by a multi-academy trust and we’ve shown that with the results of the parent ballot. Although a strike would affect some families, we will work together as a community to help each other out. If there is a strike, I will be on the picket line to show my support for the teachers and support staff.”

Members of all three unions will be balloted over the coming weeks and union officials say they could take strike action by early November if necessary, but will only use it as an option when an academy trust is named as a sponsor, to lessen the impact upon children’s learning and school improvement.

Calvin Cumiskey, teacher and NEU rep said: “Going on strike is the last resort for staff, but we feel we have no choice if we are to protect the school and keep it in the community.

“The result of the parent ballot was incredible, and we’ve been really impressed by the dedication of the campaigning parents. We appreciate that strike action will inconvenience some parents and we will only use it when absolutely necessary. First and foremost, we care about the education of our pupils and want our school to be the best it can be. I hope the Secretary of State sees sense, recognises that our school is not “inadequate” and revokes the academy order, so we don’t have to use strike action.”