Watch teachers’ protest song against forced academisation

‘We don’t care so much for Ofsted gradings or where we stand in global tables’ teachers sing in a ‘rallying cry’ against government plans

A choir of teachers has recorded a protest song calling for an end to the policy of forcing schools to become academies.

The song, This School, is based on the Woody Guthrie classic This Land is Your Land, and its lyrics condemn what the teachers see as privatisation in the school system.

‘People feel strongly’

Jackie Schneider, a campaigner and primary music teacher in south-west London and who has been involved in the project, said: “There are people who wouldn’t come to a union meeting but do feel strongly about the issue and wanted to come and sing about it.

“The song is about the sense of privatisation, about taking something that is public – however imperfect it is, it is in public hands and there is a way of democratically influencing it – and taking that and breaking it up.

“Doing something creative – turning that feeling into a song, is trying to spread that point. It is another way of asking people to think about what is it that they really want?”

As well as teachers, some members of the National Health Singers, a collective that sings about threats to the NHS, joined in. The official video of the National Health Singers’ song Yours, introduced by actor Michael Sheen, has been viewed more than 111,000 times on Youtube.

Incredibly powerful

Ms Schneider, who has blogged about the teachers’ project, added: “It was incredibly powerful because teachers for ages have felt powerless with diktats coming at them from on high. People turned up because they loved the lyrics and it was very cathartic, people felt so much better for singing it. It felt better than signing a petition. It is an anthem, it is a rallying cry.”

Leonora Davies, a former inspector for music in Haringey and freelance music education consultant, said “I hope this protest song will ring in the ears of unthinking ministers who are meddling with our education system to no effective purpose.”

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is absolutely brilliant that NUT members have thought up the idea of recording a protest song to express their own dismay and anger at the continuing moves to turn schools into academies.”

While the government recently abandoned plans to turn every school into an academy, education thinktank CentreForum has calculated that new legislation could still force almost all schools in England to convert.

The lyrics are by NUT member Nick Grant and the song has been arranged by Gitika Partington, a music consultant.

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