Buyout of the Barclay School academy: activists will march in Stevenage
Activists protesting against the forced takeover of a secondary school by an academy, will march through the streets of Stevenage on Saturday.
Time is quickly running out for staff and parents desperate to end the takeover of the town’s Barclay School by Future Academies Trust on February 1.
They will gather outside the Walkern Road school on Saturday at 10 a.m. to demonstrate in protest against the plans, before a rally in Town Square at 12 p.m.
This follows a three-day strike by Barclay staff, members of the National Education Union, which ends today and follows industrial action last Wednesday – after a first strike in December.
The forced transition to academy status was due to the fact that Barclay was deemed inadequate and placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2016. But an Ofsted inspection in April 2018 found he had progressed to in need of improvement, with positive elements. Teachers and parents fear that unnecessary changes will be made to the curriculum, structure and school systems.
More than 2,900 people have signed a petition calling for Barclay to remain under the control of local authorities, with parents launching a Hands Off Barclay campaign group.
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Barclay’s teacher Jill Borcherds, representative of NEU, said: âIt is with great regret that Barclay’s NEU members have found themselves taking further strike action.
âWe asked for an extension of the transfer date to allow good negotiations, but they refused.
“We are very grateful for the support of parents and teachers across Hertfordshire and beyond – we will remain together as a Barclay family no matter what changes come.”
Paul McLaughlin, NEU Regional Secretary for the Eastern Region, said: âHertfordshire County Council and the Future Academies Trust are behaving in a cavalier and harmful manner. We have shown that we are ready to negotiate, but they have not.
âThe community of Stevenage, staff and parents at Barclay School have expressed legitimate concerns about this transfer, these concerns have been dismissed.
“We never want to see pupils leave school – even now we are asking Hertfordshire County Council to agree a reasonable time frame to allow our concerns to be resolved.”
In response, a spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council said: ‘This is a matter for the regional school commissioner and not a decision in which the local authority is involved.
“For this reason, it would not be appropriate to comment.”
Labor shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner is also supporting the campaign. She said, âI send all my solidarity to parents, students and staff who come together to defend a vital resource for their community.
âThousands of people have told Education Secretary Damian Hinds that they want Barclay to be locally rooted and responsible, but he even refused to respond to their petition.
âThere is no evidence to suggest that turning the school into an academy will improve standards or empower teachers and parents.
âInstead of forcing this on a community that doesn’t want it, Damian Hinds should start working with parents, staff and counselors to support the school.
“Parents want Barclay to continue the big improvements already made, but their voice is being ignored in a system that allows politicians in Whitehall to flout the wishes of local communities.”
The academy trust has yet to respond to Comet’s request for comment.
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