Tuesday, 5 November 2019

The Truth Behind What is Happening at Moulsecoomb Primary

The Truth Behind What is Happening at 
Moulsecoomb Primary

Moulsecoomb Primary is a small close-knit school in East Brighton that having recieved an "Inadequate" OFSTED report earlier in the year was issued a Forced Academy Notice by the  Regional Schools Commissioner.

The OFSTED Report.

The outcome of the OFSTED report which brought all this about is a hotly contested matter in itself. OFSTED rulings are a blunt "one size fits all" instrument that takes no account of challenges that certain schools face. Moulsecoomb itself is an area with above average social deprivation and the school has a far higher number of pupils elegible for school meals, special educational needs and with English as a second langauge.

The school has had a difficult time and has been working hard to improve standards over the last couple of years despite facing savage government cuts to their funding. The current head has worked hard with staff and the local authority and demonstrable improvements continue to be made.

Sadly, the OFSTED ruling of "Inadequate" has meant that under the Academies Act 2010 the government has bound itself to handing over any such schools from the local authority to a Mult-Academy Trust (MAT).

Forced Academy Notice

Academisation has been hugely contraversial for many reasons. Financial mismanagement, unaccountability to local communities, nepotism, dodgy tendering processes and frequent attacks on the terms and conditions of staff have not won the general public over.

Furthermore, academy chains do not recieve any more funding than local authority schools. The Education Funding Agency, the Commons Public Accounts Committee and Department for Education's own figures have all pointed to an educational experiment that has consistently failed to drive up standards or provide any sort of financial stability -  the very purposes under which the act was sold.

To Be Handed Over To Who?

A MAT attached to the University of Brighton were the first on the scene but perhaps arguably due to local opposition backed out. Next in line to run the school was Step Academies who were met at the school gates by protesting parents and decided too that the gig was not for them.


New Horizon Academy Trust & The Laurels, Worthing

The third bite of the apple has been had by New Horizon Academy Trust (NHAT). NAHT recently had a school taken off of them in Worthing (The Laurels) for the fine mess they made there which resulted in another MAT being instructed to go in and sort it out. This was evidently not possible under it's current leadership so NAHT were given their marching orders.

The MAT that took the Laurels off of NHAT reported the state of the school as they took it over; financial reports were absent, the budget was "out of control" and staff were leaving quicker than they could be replaced. Anecdotally we understand that during that time the school boiler broke down and instead of fixing it instructed pupils to wear their coats in the classroom.

A post-academisation OFSTED report relegated the school from "Good" to "Requires Improvement". An abject failure on every level.

NHAT's recent annual report made it clear that they need to "expand" into another primary school to help pay for the one school they have been left with (that has yet to recieve an OFSTED visit). Throwing Moulsecoomb Primary into their failed trust knowing their history and current state is indefendable.

It is possible however that NHAT might be getting cold feet too as community protests have continued. A chummy letter sent to staff by NAHT was met with anger and a planned visit to the school by the trust this week to sweet-talk staff was cancelled with only a few days' notice. A different recent letter to parents explained cautiously that due diligence checks have yet to be completed... perhaps leaving the back-door ajar for a dignified retreat?

Local Communuties' Response

The community has been right behind the Hands Off Moulsecoomb Primary School from the offset. Upon the academy order being issued an open meeting drew hundreds of members of the community, as did a march through Brighton, an online petition and other protests.

Parents of pupils at the school were balloted by Brighton & Hove Council as to whether or not they wanted their school handed over to a MAT who returned a solid 97% vote for not handing the school over to a MAT.

Brighton & Hove City Council who have been providing extra support and financial help to the school are similarly worried and against the forced academy notice.

Statistics show that academies do not perform better than local authority schools. Local councillors, MPs, school staff, pupils, ex-pupils, parents, community leaders, unions and this trades council are all opposed to handing the school over to an undemocratic beaurocracy.

Yet the Department For Education still insist on carrying it out regardless - so much for democracy or local people having their say!

What next? 

The three unions representing staff at Moulsecoomb Primary are united in their opposition to handing the school over to a MAT. The National Education Union (NEU) representing teaching staff as well as UNISON and GMB habe all pledged to stand and fight alongside the school and parents - as have this Trades Council.

The NEU and GMB will be taking strike action on Thursday 21st November as all other means of challenging this process have fallen on deaf ears. An invite has been extended to the community to join them at the school gates from 7am for a huge show of local strength.

UNISON are awaiting the result of their ballot and are expecting a similarly overwhelming mandate. Further strike dates involving all three unions are currently being planned howevr all unions have agreed to suspend strike action if the NAHT do the decent thing and walk away.

Each day that passes without a MAT being prepared to take the school brings the possibility of a further OFSTED visit closer. A second visit that acknowledges the ongoing improvements (such as this years much improved SAT results) will put further pressure on bigwig Gavin Williamson MP to revoke the order.

The other possibility is a new government being formed in the next few weeks that has declared to end the rotten academisation project for good.

"Everybody knows that the academy idea has failed and is dead in the water. To hand over a popular, working class local community school, with the challenges it has, to a deomonstrably incapable MAT is simply an act of war on that community. Parents won't stand for it, councillors won't stand for it, staff won't stand for, pupils won't stand for it - and neither will we. It's a disgraceful affair."

Matt Webb - UNISON Education Convenor and General Secretary of Brighton Hove & District Trades Council.

"Staff and parents know what is best for their children and do not believe that the school is inadequate. After almost a decade, there is no evidence that shows that forcing schools to become academies improves results. On the contrary, evidence shows that struggling schools improve faster if they remain in the local authority.”

Craig Arden - NEU Regional Officer

If you would like to keep up to date with the campaign please click here:


Saturday, 7 September 2019

Update: Coach to Manchester Tory Conference 2019 and more...

The Conservative Party who are already guilty of the horrors of austerity, wage stagnation, universal credit and anti-trade union legislation have (as you must have noticed) voted to shut down parliament. In fact, in the time it takes to write this email there will probably be another half dozen crisises and scandals.

The closure of parliament is in order to facilitate their dangerous No Deal Brexit without further scrutiny, which will decimate jobs and living conditions and turn the UK into an international tax haven.

There are expected to be huge protests outside their conference in Manchester this month.

Therefore the Trades Council have decided to run a coach up to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on 29th September so that we can join the many voices calling them out for what they are – millionaire crooks that have to go.

The coach will depart on 29th September from St Peters Church, Brighton at 5am sharp and will return later that evening.

The Trades Council will be considerably subsidising the cost of travel which for many people would otherwise be unaffordable. The subsidised return tickets will be £10.00 or £5.00 for the unwaged, pensioners and students.

We are asking all affiliated branches to consider donating to the cost of running the coach.

(click to enlarge)

September Open Meeting

Just a reminder that we are also hosting a free open public meeting on Wednesday 11th September at Friends Meeting House from 7.30pm. The guest speakers will be Jane Loftus (CWU President) and Amber Millwood from Youth 4 Climate Change.

Love Music Hate Racism

Stand Up To Racism along with the CWU and others are putting on a Love Music Hate Racism event this Sunday at The Arches (Brighton seafront). Lots of live music from Steven Bamidele, Bobbie Johnson and several great speakers. Donations on the door for entry.

Request from BFAWU

The BFAWU who have done so much great work organising workers in places such as MacDonald's are asking all trade unionists for help. The BFAWU are looking for people with cars to offer some of their time to help bring workers together. Fuel costs will be covered and food/drink will be provided. If you are able to help or would like to find out more please visit

I hope to see as many of you as possible at our open meeting on Wednesday 11th as well as on the coach up to Manchester on 29th.

Kind regards


Matt Webb
Gen. Secretary
Brighton Hove & District Trades Council

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Trades Council Update

Dear friends

Our next Full Council Meeting will be on Wednesday 11th September 2019 at Friends Meeting House from 7.30pm.

It was decided by the EC that our next Full Council Meeting will have a large section of the meeting open to the public and non-affiliated unions.

We will have Jane Loftus, the national president of CWU to talk of the anticipated second national ballot of postal workers, why the ballot is taking place and what it will mean.

We also have a Annapurna Morley from the Youth Strike 4 Climate campaign who are holding a day of national action and strikes on 20th September. It was felt that as well as their message being a crucial one, their campaigning has been remarkably effective and that trade unions should be standing shoulder to shoulder with them.

There will also be an opportunity for delegates to raise ongoing and new disputes.

Current Disputes

The Trades Council have been made aware by UNITE Housing branch that workers at St Mungo’s are balloting for industrial action over plans to deskill the workforce and leave experienced and committed workers high and dry in favour of replacing them with lower paid staff. The Trades Council will share more information on this as we get it however UNITE Housing have our full support.

The Hands Off Moulsecoomb Campaign to save Moulsecoomb Primary School from forced academisation continues to build momentum. As instructed by the Full Council I wrote to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education outlining our deep concerns and unflinching opposition to the forced academisation order. On the plus side, the school scored excellently in results which supports the call for a second OFSTED report. After a series of unanimous indicative “straw” ballots”, members of the GMB, UNISON and NEU are all poised ready for a school year of industrial action ahead unless the order is revoked.

The community of Peacehaven’s attempt through the High Court to stop East Sussex County Council handing over Peacehaven Community School to Swake Academy Trust came to a sad conclusion last week when Mr Justice Nicklin essentially ruled that it was not up to communities who run their schools. In the face of outrage from everyone concerned East Sussex County Council then went so far as to attempt to recoup their own legal costs from the community group challenging them!  As the Trades Council’s very own (and Secretary of East Sussex NEU) Phil Clarke told The Argus “East Sussex County Council have lost the moral ground” and even for Mr Justice Nicklin this was evidently a bridge too far as ESCC were told to pay for their own damn legal costs!

Up at Brighton University both UCU and UNISON are going to ballot members over their pay (or rather, lack of it). The 1.5% offer is dwarfed by the rising cost of living in the city and is against a backdrop of similar paltry below inflation pay increases over several years. This trades council understand that ballot papers will be going out to members any day now and will support both unions in any action they take.

Brighton & Hove City Council recently announced plans to close Knole House which provides temporary assisted living for vulnerable people. This is as a result of the NHS Trust withdrawing their half of the funding from the important service. This closure will involve the loss of dozens of jobs as well as a cut in hours for those who are lucky enough to find any redeployment in a BHCC run sister service. The Local Authority have stated that they do not envisage any compulsory redundancies (which they know will mean the balloting of the entire UNISON local government branch!) but even the Voluntary Severance requests were added up not everyone shares their shares their optism. Similarly, users of the services at Knole House will not come out better for it either although they are unlikely to be able to march, protest or strike over the closure themselves. BHCC say that they cannot afford to run the service without the NHS Trust bankrolling some of it however whether either the NHS Trust or the council can afford the long term costs of “bed-blocking” in NHS hospitals and the already beyond crisis point of Social Services remains to be seen…

If your branch are involved in a dispute that you would like including in the next newsletter please email brightontradescouncil@gmail.com

TWT at Labour Conference

The World Transformed are holding a huge 4 day festival (21st – 24th September) of art, music and politics during the Labour Conference in Brighton.

The line-up of speakers include Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Dianne Abbott, Yanis Varoufakis, Ash Sarkar, Faiza Shaheen, Ken Loach, Francesca Martinez, Kali Akuno and many more. There will also be interactive activities, talks by Wetherspoon strikers, Acorn Tennant’s Union and many more. Please ensure that you branches are aware of this gargantuan event and come along to get involved.

The Trades Council have been invited to have a stall at some point during the festival so we will need a volunteer or two!

Boris Johnson Shuts Down Parliament!

Well that's a sentence I hoped that I would never have to write.

Anyhow, after the last minute mobilisation of hundreds of people in Brighton on Wednesday night protesting against the far-right power grab - a second large protest has been organised on Saturday 31st August at The Level at midday. Please do head down and add your voice and that of the Trades Council.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Carluccio's, Brighton - Accused of Ciphoning Money From Their Own Minimum Wage Staff.

UNITE Restaurant, Catering and Bar workers have reported that Carluccio's are the latest high street chain to have been caught trying to pinch money from their own low paid staff.

Last year Carluccio's were forced to bring in chief bean counters KPMG to take a look at how to make the business more profitable - surely they could have found a better way of doing that than taking tips off of their own (not very well paid) staff.

UNITE report that many staff are now walking out over the matter and those that are staying are unionising and organising themselves for better working conditions.

The Glass Door website where staff can rate where they work paints working at Carluccio's as a stressful place to work with long hours and few incentives - "poor management" is a frequently found term.

There was an outcry in 2015 when it emerged that keeping staff tips was a common practice throughout high street chains. Despite this and despite (then Business Minister) Sajid Javid's statement that all tips should go to staff and promised proposals to that effect, no legislation made and nothing really changed.

The accusation being made specifically relates to tips that are paid to staff by customers using cards, other than cash, are being ciphoned off by the company.

The Carluccio's chain was started in 1999 and by 2008 was valued at around £90m. They currently have a restaurant in Jubilee Street, Brighton.

If you work at Carluccio's or any other restaurant or bar consider joining the UNITE Restaurant, Catering & Bar Union.

If you do eat at Carluccio's please remember to tip staff in cash becuase it would appear that perhaps Carluccio's cannot be trusted not to try to pocket the money themselves.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Open Meeting - September 11th 2019

On Wednesday 11th September, Brighton Hove & District Trades Council will open up their Full Council meeting to non-affiliated trade unions and the public.

We will have a speaker from the Youth 4 Climate Strike campaign which has achieved remarkable momentum in bringing children and young adults out in their hundreds and thousands. What can we learn from their successful campaigning in terms of mobilising young adults - and what can trade unions do to support them?

We will also have a very speaker from the Communication Workers Union. The CWU are looking at having to run another national ballot for industrial action at Royal Mail as the new CEO appears to be tearing up the very agreements that averted a strike at the eleventh hour last year!

Wednesday 11th September from 7.30pm at the Friends Meeting House, Brighton

Further details will be forthcoming  - watch this space!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Brighton Uni UCU Strike 26th and 27th April

In all the campaigning and organising that needs to be done to kick out the Tories please do take the time to support the UCU at Brighton University on strike this Wednesday and Thursday.
There will be pickets on all the main sites from early morning.  The dispute hinges on union recognition for background to the dispute see the UCU video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIoB2qs4e8U&feature=youtu.be 
Messages of support for next week would be greatly appreciated and should be sent to ucubrighton@gmail.com
'Solidarity selfies', using the slogan 'Defend union rights. Support Brighton UCU' or something similar, can be posted to www.facebook.com/BrightonUCU/
Follow us on Twitter: @BrightonUCU
Members voted by a majority of over three to one for strike action on a high turnout in response to a series of management breaches of existing agreements, followed by a refusal to abide by the disputes resolution procedure.
The University has cancelled promotions to Principal Lecturer, has demoted a number of part-time lecturers to demonstrator status (unilaterally reclassifying lecturer work as demonstrating), and is pushing through compulsory redundancies in a School which has failed to implement a recently signed workload allocation agreement.

When challenged on these issues, the Vice Chancellor said, 'It is the University’s position that it does not require the agreement of the UCU in respect of these issues.' She now wants the UCU to sign away its negotiating rights to a whole range of issues relating to the terms and conditions of academic staff. The plan is clearly to marginalise the union in advance of large-scale job losses and wholesale changes to contracts.

Brighton UCU plans a rapidly escalating campaign of industrial action to confront this threat to effective trade unionism at the institution. Next week's two-day strike will be followed by a three-day strike a fortnight later and further action as necessary.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tory Anti-Union Laws set to be even more regressive than feared

Defend the Right to Strike – Resisting the New Anti-Union Laws
Organised by Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council

Tuesday 21st July 7pm
BMECP 10 Fleet St, Brighton, BN1 4ZE

The announcement today of more details of the Anti-Union laws makes it clear that the legislation, unless we can stop it, is going to be worse than previously feared.

We must organise ourselves to fight these laws and prepare our response to them
We must push our leaderships into action

We have a range of speakers from the movement to kick start a discussion on organising and resisting.
I hope to see you there.

Phil Clarke
Secretary Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council
Updated list of attacks planned on our movement

A 50% turnout threshold on all ballots

An additional threshold on transport, health, education, fire, energy and other workers where 40% of those issued with a ballot paper must vote yes. Effectively making not voting a no vote

Timeouts of four months on ballots to make unions re-ballot under the above thresholds repeatedly if a dispute is protracted.

The details of strike patterns to be included on the ballot papers so employers can prepare weeks in advance

Two weeks’ notice of a strike to be given to employers

Allowing agency staff to be used to break strikes with a least 2 weeks preparation to hire them

Criminalise effective picketing, require a union official to be responsible for each picket only having 6 people on and allow unions to be fined for not auditing pickets and protests.

Further restrictions on union’s political funds

Limiting the amount of time public sector employees can spend on union work. Effectively removing the ability of union branches to organise its officers in a way democratically decided upon by members.

There is no doubt the government will also continue to encourage the remove payment at source or check off arrangements where union subs are taken out as part of the member’s pay packet.

Our fundamental right to strike and organise is being threatened.
Please come along to help plan our response.