Shoreham: School academy faces class struggle

TEACHERS are planning a campaign against proposals to turn Adur's two secondary schools into academies.

King's Manor Community College, Shoreham and Boundstone Community College, Lancing, as well as Littlehampton Community School, are all earmarked for change.

The Woodard Corporation, which founded Lancing College, has been working with West Sussex County Council to transform the three state schools into academies.

Woodard is a charitable Church of England organisation which owns or runs 40 independent and state schools across Britain.

Many staff at the three local state schools are opposed to the move. They are holding a public meeting on Thursday at the Assembly Rooms, Worthing.

Dave Thomas, local secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "We are opposed to academies in West Sussex because they undermine democratically controlled local authorities.

"They put schools in the hands of unaccountable sponsors, they threaten teachers' pay and working conditions, and they will introduce three more schools of a faith character, with minimal consultation and a reduction in parents' choice."

Canon Brendan Clover, Woodard's senior provost, denied that the academies would have an overbearing religious curriculum.

"I can reassure people that creationism would not be on the curriculum at the academies. We are not an evangelical organisation."

John Greenshields, a maths teacher at King's Manor Community College, and a union member, said: "Speaking from a personal point of view, there is concern from staff here that we haven't been consulted by the Woodard Corporation or by the county council since this was announced nine months ago. I believe we are going to be presented with a done deal.

"Currently, the three schools are run by politically accountable council, which the Woodard Corporation isn't. This will affect hundreds of staff and pupils.

"I know Woodard has tried to play down the faith element, but it will mean six out of nine schools in this area will be Church of England. Where is the choice?"

At a meeting of West Sussex NUT held earlier this month, members unanimously voted for a motion which said the union was opposed to the establishment of academies in West Sussex.

Local MP Tim Loughton has backed the plan, calling it a major vote of confidence in the future of Adur's two secondary schools.

The public meeting on Thursday, February 7, at 7.30pm, is open to parents, teachers, support staff and others with an interest in state education.