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East-Sussex County Council Bully Peacehaven Heights Governors to Resign to Force Academisation
20th September 2019

This latest outrageous action clearly shows that the Council are determined to force this Academisation through by any underhanded means necessary, says GMB Southern

GMB, the union for school support staff, has today learnt that East Sussex County Council have put in place a forced Interim Executive Board to govern Peacehaven Heights School.

This comes after the news that that all but two of the schools Governors had resigned their positions after they have been consistently harassed and pressurised by ESCC to put in place an Academy against their wishes.

The staff, parents and local community fought a long campaign earlier this year to stop the Council from forcing the Governing body into voting to consult over academisation of the school.

As a result of GMB members’ actions, the Governors voted that the school should remain a local authority school as they were best placed to support the school with any improvements needed.

True to form, East Sussex did not take this decision by the Governors well and have set out to force through their own will upon the Governors, by refusing to allow the governors to carry out their roles and by refusing to accept any improvement proposals for the school, thereby constantly undermining their roles and making their jobs completely untenable.

In a letter sent out today to parents, the new Chair of the IEB Jonathan Taylor states that "following consultation with the Governing Body of Peacehaven Heights Primary School the local authority applied to the Department for Education (DfE) for approval to establish an Interim Executive Board".  This is blatantly untrue as the Governors have clearly had no choice in the matter and to state otherwise is an outright lie.

The letter goes on to state "The DfE in approving the appointment of the IEB have stated their expectation that the IEB actively considers a sponsored academy solution".

Lib Whitfield, GMB Regional Organiser said:

"East Sussex County Council have been absolutely determined from the outset to ensure they pass the buck on their responsibilities and force the school to Academise.

"This latest outrageous action clearly shows that the Council are determined to force this Academisation through by any underhanded means necessary, even to the ends of harassing the Governors to resign and finally sacking the last 2 Governors to ensure they get the Academy they want.

"The letter sent by the new Chair of the IEB states this was in consultation with the governing body, which is an outright lie as the Governors never had a choice in this decision and furthermore for Jonathan Taylor to begin his time as chair with such lies just shows his contempt for the staff and parents of the school.

"GMB members stood with parents and the local community to prevent any plans to academise the school last term and the children and parents will be heartbroken at this latest news of such a detrimental step back for the school. Their determination though is still as strong as ever and that’s something that East Sussex council won’t be able to bully away.

"GMB is sending a clear message to those at East Sussex who have abused their positions of power to further their own academisation agenda: that our members will never stop fighting against the attempts to force the school to academise.

"It is high time that East Sussex realised that the academisation agenda has failed and that our hardworking staff, parents and the local community will never accept such blatant bullying tactics to privatise a much loved local school.

"If you want a fight, then GMB and some very angry parents will oblige, and East Sussex Council and especially Jonathan Taylor should understand it’s what we do and we do it very well."

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