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GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region

Victory for Galton valley primary school defence against forced conversion to academy status

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The message we hope we are sending to Mr Gove and the Department of Education is ‘Hands off our schools’ says GMB. 

GMB, the union for school support staff is celebrating the success of the campaign to stop Galton Valley Primary in the borough of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council being forced into becoming an academy. The school, parents, pupils and governors are breathing a collective sigh of relief after the Department for Education decided not to intervene in their school.   

After being judged 'Inadequate' and put in Special Measures the school faced being forced to become an academy as has happened to other schools across the country.  Galton Valley Primary has been supported through the whole process by GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region and other trade unions, as well as the parents of pupils at the school and staff.  

Unlike other schools across the country, Galton Valley also had strong support from its Governors, the Local Authority including Sandwell’s local councillors and MP and the wider community. 

A working group was set up, which included trade unions and parents.  It held numerous protests, as well as a petition against the planned forced conversion.  Thousands of signatures in support of the school were collected, which was then taken to London.  A copy of the petition went to the proposed academy sponsor with another going to the Department for Education.

The proposed sponsor was unaware of the concern from the parents and unions and so took the opportunity to speak with the local authority, whereby the local authority was able to put forward the concerns from the working group as well as its own.   

With all sides working together to encourage the sponsor to rethink the planned conversion, we were able to delay proceedings.  This gave the school the time it needed to make sufficient progress to get out of ‘special measures’. 

Mohammed Khalik, GMB Organiser said, “The message we hope we are sending to Mr Gove and the Department of Education is…hands off our schools, because when all parties work together, the school can achieve its potential without your interference, i.e. becoming a forced academy. 

This is a clear victory for local democracy and is a testament to the hard work of staff, governors and the local community, supported by the trade unions. It again demonstrates that Mr Gove doesn’t care what is best for schools and the local community but is more interested in driving forward his agenda of privatising schools, by any means.” 

Ends 

Contact: Mohammed Khalik, GMB Organiser on 07957 265724 or Sam Jones, GMB Media Officer on 07939 874272 or GMB Press Office: 07974 251823.

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