I have just updated my profile so, if you're interested you can see what associations I belong to. The two of interest here are Leeds Schools Together [LST] and the Anti-Academies Alliance [AAA]. If you want to know why teachers get so worked up about academies and trusts, these associations both have websites.
The LST is made up of union members [mostly teaching and clerical unions], parents and other interested bodies. We are affiliated to the AAA, a national body, onto whose steering committee I have just been elected. Actually, everyone who stood, was elected, so this is not quite the honour it might seem. Honour! Chore, more likely I hear you say. Labour of love, I would retort. And thus we might argue for minutes.
Belonging to a group is ace. [We take our unions for granted now; people even sneer at them, thinking they are power-seekers when really they are here to protect us.] Just when you think you are the only school in the world threatened with closure; just when you think you're the only teacher who can see what's happening, well, belonging to a group makes you realise that you are not alone. And it helps you fight injustice.
And being in a national group is even more heartening because you realise that you're with like-minded people from all over England - mostly we're representing English towns and counties; I believe that the Celts have stopped trashing their own school children and their teachers and they have sent their Capitalists back to Capitalland.
Back in Leeds in the LST, representatives from different schools, some threatened with closure or academisation, some already under the knife, meet together every so often in order to support each other and in order to fight dangerous government initiatives.
Dangerous, I hear you say. Surely a government only wants the best for its children? What about Every Child Matters? Well, what happened to Every Child Matters? That was a slogan I could believe in!
The problem is that the government is not made up entirely of trained and practising teachers, and certainly not inner-city experienced. Look at the number of government ministers who went to Oxford University - Ed Balls, for one. You would think that the "best" education in the world would make for a knowledgable minister. I think a bit of the University of Life wouldn't have come amiss.
Now where is this blog going? Well, when I was governor at the City of Leeds/Primrose Federation, someone dreamt up the trite little phrase "Together, anything is possible", and worse, it finally got stuck on some signs outside our schools. I think it was at that point, and at this departure from reality that I knew we would have a fight on our hands.
But, if this little phrase means nothing, its converse is absolutely true. Because my own personal professional life experience consists of the absolutely misguided and pointless closures of first Foxwood/East Leeds High School and then Royal Park Primary, I made a decision to put my traumatising experiences at the service of any new school going through this process.
And time and time again, I see plucky little communities muster massive public support against the closure of their local school, and I see a private so-called education company totally disregard all the valid arguments against closure. Then I see the councillors who did not attend the public meetings vote to close schools that they know nothing about. And somewhere in London a government is counting, well counting anything that moves.
Together, the last three schools standing: Primrose, Parklands and City of Leeds are stronger if they fight together. So, let's fight together. For ourselves and for each other, for our children and our communities.