Opposing the Privatisation of Uplands Junior School

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is fully supportive of ongoing local efforts to prevent Uplands Junior School from being forced into becoming an academy by the Government (as reported in this weeks Leicester Mercury, “Government to order Leicester’s troubled Uplands Junior School become an academy”).

One way in which TUSC has been trying to help Uplands has been by collecting signatures on a petition — created by Unison and the National Union of Teachers — in order to garner broader support from all workers and community members who care about keeping Uplands under the democratic control of the local authority.

The stated reason why private equity guru Lord Nash – the current Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools – has decided to intervene in Uplands’ affairs is allegedly because the school received a poor Ofsted report in February 2014.

But Lord Nash’s bid to privatise Leicester’s schools is apparent to all, as he deliberately ignored the improvements that have been made at Uplands over the past year, as illustrated by the most recent 2015 Ofsted monitoring inspection. This attack on one of our city’s much-loved schools is scandalous!

More to the point it is significant that Uplands’ Ofsted report from February 2012 demonstrated that the school was being run smoothly and effectively (they received a good rating). Specific mention was even made of the fact that teaching assistants were providing both expert and “outstanding support” to their students. But none of this stopped the then principal of the school, Dr Tim Luckcock, from treating his staff with contempt.

Under Dr Luckcock’s bullying regime of mismanagement he attempted to halve the number of support workers at the school, having the cheek to make a misinformed argument that teaching assistants “are generally amongst the least effective investments in raising pupil attainment”. Under such a climate of intimidation the teachers and support workers at Uplands were forced into taking strike action on a number of occasions during 2013, simply in order to make their voices heard.

So if anything, Uplands recent history should be considered a positive example to all schools, because of the inspirational way in which their workers united to defend their ability to deliver a high quality education to their students –– all of which was done in the face of a bullying principal.

Yet it now seems that the pupils and workers at Uplands are being persecuted by an irrational Government seeking revenge for the example they may have given to other workers. Not content with slashing funding for our city, the Con-Dem Coalition are attempting to meddle in local educational matters to expand their profit-driven mission of privatising Leicester’s schools. This despite the fact that evidence from all manner of studies has already demonstrated that privatising education, through the use of academies, makes absolutely no sense.

Needless to say Lord Nash’s undemocratic interference at Uplands is being resisted, and collectively, we should all do what we can to help this school during its time of need. Profit has no place in education!

Also consider getting involved with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), and help us in our ongoing national campaigns to ensure that all students will have the possibility of obtaining a high quality, and free education — provided by teachers who are not overworked and bullied by managers who are obsessed by a corrosive culture of targets and cost-cutting.

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