On the NEU union picket line at Connaught School for Girls in east London

Workers at Connaught School for Girls in east London are striking back against plans for them to be gobbled up by a large multi-academy trust.

NEU union members struck for three days this week against proposals for the school to join Star Academy, and in opposition to compulsory redundancies and any increases in workload. The 55 union members voted 89 percent yes to the action.

It was the third ballot over academisation plans in two years and followed six strike days in July. In the latest phase, workers are set for nine strike days. The picket lines and picket breakfasts have been lively and celebratory affairs with lots of discussion at the breakfasts as union members shape the next stages of the strike.

The pickets and breakfasts act as strike committees. On the eve of the first day of strike, the school said there were plans to increase teachers’ contact time with students as well as join Star. This led to an increase in union membership and hardened up the existing members.

These attacks come about due to budget reduction plans that see educators carry the can for years of under-investment in education. It’s not only teachers who will have their workload increased, as support staff can see how much extra work it will be for them also.

The strikes have already achieved wins. So far there have been no compulsory redundancies and improvements to teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) top-up payments. This has boosted members’ spirits alongside the parental, student and community support.

Socialist Worker supporters have been on the picket lines supporting the action and discussing bigger political issues as well. This strike is not only a strike against academisation, it goes to the heart of the battle against the privatisation of education, and a small group of NEU members are taking on the giants of the DFE and Star academy.

Pablo is Waltham Forest NEU joint branch and district secretary
Send messages of support to Sandra.faria@neu.org.uk and Pablo.phillips@neu.org.uk
Strikes are set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week and the week after, with pickets from 7am.

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