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12-year-old girl leads 'strike' against Eltham Crown Woods College's change to academy status
A 12-year-old girl is organising a "strike" to protest against her Eltham school becoming an academy.
Crown Woods College, recently rebuilt in a £50m project, is set to become an academy in September in a move which headteacher Michael Murphy says is widely supported.
But Year 8 pupil Georgia Abbott is staging a day’s protest against the change which she fears will lead to a drop in educational standards.
She says around 50 pupils will take part in the "strike" - dubbed by Mr Murphy as "absolute nonsense" - on June 3 outside the school gates, in Bexley Road, from 8.30am to 3pm.
The 12-year-old told News Shopper: "I have organised a student strike day because our headteacher wants to change our school into an academy.
"There would be a lack of high teaching standards. It’s been proved other academies have gone down in Ofsted results."
Her grandmother Lesley Abbott, who lives in Briset Road, says Georgia is exercising her "democratic right" even though she is risking punishment.
The 59-year-old grandmother-of-seven said: "Georgia has been told there will be serious consequences if she goes through with it.
"She might only be 12 but she has a right to be heard, same as anyone else.
"We live in a democratic society.
"She’s thought this through, she hasn’t been influenced by anyone apart from herself and listened to both sides of the argument.
"I do support her because I think it is privatisation through the back door."
She added: "As an academy, they don’t have to answer to an educational authority. They can employ unqualified teachers, change the curriculum, change the term dates. I personally think it is wrong."
Georgia claims many teachers are unhappy about the change but students are striking on behalf of the staff as they might risk their jobs.
But Mr Murphy says staff and parents are happy with the move to academy status and there are only five pupils out of 1,600 who are concerned.
He says the decision was taken for the best needs of the college and community and parents were reassured logistics such as the school day, year, uniform and organisation would not change.
He went on to say the idea of a "pupil strike" was nonsense and would be treated as truancy.
Mr Murphy said: "There are five pupils who are not happy with this and we have 1,600 pupils here.
"There is not going to be a pupil strike. I have made it clear that if they do, they are playing truant and will be appropriately punished.
"The whole concept of a pupil strike is absolutely nonsense."
School governors voted unanimously in December last year to join Leigh Academies Trust with parent and staff consultation taking place earlier this year.
The school will partner with Ravensbourne College and existing trust sponsor University of Greenwich.
Mr Murphy said: "This marks another significant milestone on our journey to outstanding and reflects our absolute commitment to providing the very best education for pupils and students.
"To be part of an outstanding Local Trust who share our commitment to "human scale" education and to benefit from a partnership with a premium Livery Company is a tremendous boost to the opportunities and life chances of our students.
"The close working relationship with the University of Greenwich and Ravensbourne College complete what is an outstanding educational partnership.
"This is all very exciting."
Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust Simon Beamish added:
“This partnership will bring additional high quality expertise and resources to the College to continue improving the life chances of its young people.
"Leigh Academies Trust also looks forward to creating cross-academy initiatives and wider career development opportunities for staff.
"The college is now well-placed to become the flagship of a second cluster of schools within the Trust, working with the Stationers’ Company, Ravensbourne and the University of Greenwich to continue transforming education in this part of London.”
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