“If it hadn’t been for this school I would have ended up in prison” were the words of one former student who came to support the picket line on Thursday 20th June, the third day of strike action by mangers of the NEU, NASUWT and Unison at the Grove Academy, a pupil referral unit facing potential closure after funding cuts from North Yorkshire County Council.
Iain Dalton, Socialist Party North Yorkshire organiser
Socialist Party members from Harrogate and Leeds joined the picket lines once more to stand shoulder to shoulder with workers fighting the impacts of austerity.
There has been tremendous support from across the education sector locally with a UCU rep from Harrogate College (themselves on strike over cuts last year joining the picket line) and a march around the 6 Harrogate secondary schools that refer students to the Grove seeing head teachers from those schools supporting the strikers and speaking to the media calling for the Grove to be saved.
The immediate threat to the school is that North Yorkshire County Council is cutting £2m from is budget for pupil referral units across the county, without any plans or proposals for how this will effect the services provided by places like the Grove. But as the Grove is part of the Delta academy chain, NYCC are refusing to discuss with the unions claiming their dispute is only with Delta.
After losing 25% of its budget in 2018, the Grove now faces losing a further 25-40% of its budget which is clearly unsustainable. NYCC claim to have alternative provision plans but refuse to share these with anyone!
A further 3 days of strike action has been called for next week to continue the pressure to demand a fully-funded service at the Grove. The strike shows the need for a reversal of the cuts to education by central government and the reintegration of the fragmented education system, with decisions about schools and their funding under the democratic control of staff and parents.