THIS WINTER THERE HAS BEEN a concerted local campaign - powered by the National Education Union (NEU) teachers and support staff at The Village School in Brent, who have taken industrial action on a number of days - to prevent the proposed academisation of our flagship local school.
In addition to being rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in its most recent report, a massive £29 million was spent on the rebuilding of The Village School by Brent council a few years ago. Thus the move to hand over the school from Brent council to a new multi-academy trust has not only proved to be extremely unpopular, but is wholly unnecessary, wasteful and misguided - as all moves towards academisation are.
Since the beginning of the campaign, both local CLPs, Brent Central and Brent North, as well as Brent Momentum, have offered their complete support to the outstanding, passionate and hardworking teachers and support staff at The Village School. For my part, I have done my utmost to join together the different strands of the campaign, including Brent NEU, Brent Central and Brent North CLPs, Brent Momentum, more national campaign groups and, perhaps most importantly of all, the Brent Labour Group, so as to ensure that our campaign has been focused, streamlined yet comprehensive.
As politics should be a question of issues, and not personalities, one of the main goals of the campaign has been to convey our arguments as publicly and confidently as we can, thus giving the Labour leadership of Brent council - including the chief whip, who sits as the chair of governors proposing the school’s academisation - the confidence to publicly oppose academisation. This has been powered by a combination of comrades lobbying my Brent Labour Group colleagues, me providing constant visible support for the campaign in the press, and of course, the brave actions of The Village School’s teachers and support staff.
In recent weeks, our campaign succeeded in gaining the support of Dawn Butler MP and Barry Gardiner MP, the latter setting up a public meeting at Brent council civic centre. During this most recent meeting, members and activists from the different strands of the local labour movement were able to confidently and publicly articulate our argument, and so gain from the council leadership their full public support for our campaign.
By taking our arguments out of closed doors and into the public, and conveying them robustly, our campaign has made huge strides. Though there is still a long way to go - we are currently waiting for the council leadership to issue in writing their public support for us - we have made considerable progress over the past few months. As Tony Benn once observed, you never win at the top, but only when you take the argument out to the public. I personally hope that we continue to remain steadfast and strong, and look forward to a comprehensive victory for us all.
- For the latest information about the campaign, follow @JumboChan on Twitter.
Brent Central CLP.