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On the march into Otley

The third day of the strike by teachers against the academisation of Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley saw an even larger amount of teachers and members of the public supporting the picket line. They were supported once again by a strong presence of students, who had to leave the picket line at 8.30am as years 11, 12 and 13 had been called into school in an attempt to undermine this support, although many were wearing black to show support for the teachers and planned to discuss the issues around the strike with other students.

Mikey Divers, Aireborough & Horsforth Socialist Party

Another attempt to spread division had been made earlier at an assembly held by head teacher Janet Sherriff on Tuesday 15th of November. In this assembly, Sherriff tried to sell academisation to the students by glossing over certain “myths” of why academies were not a good thing. One such claim that Sherriff made was that the students should not be concerned with too many “chavs” coming to the school once it is converted. This is not only a concern completely unrelated to the school’s becoming an academy, but is also very poorly thought through comment and tantamount to class hate.

After the picket line, protesters proceeded to march through Otley to attend a short public meeting held by the strike’s trade union representatives from the NUT and NASUWT, followed by a joint union organizing meeting. Further industrial action is planned next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday whilst a public meeting has been arranged for Tuesday 22nd November at Otley Parish Church by the local town councillors, which will hear from speakers from the two unions and a governor who is amongst the nine who have resigned in protest against the plans.

Alongside continuing industrial action, the turning of the widespread support for the teachers in the local community into action is crucial if the anti-academy campaign is to progress. The public meeting, and the planned lobby of local Lib Dem MP Greg Mullholland at the weekend by students and parents will mark a further step towards this.