VIDEO: Teachers, parents and pupils came together in their hundreds to protest against the proposed merger of Sandown Bay Academy with Ryde Academy earlier this afternoon (Tuesday), as fears grow that the move could result in the complete closure of The Fairway-based school.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the grounds of Sandown Bay Academy to make their message very clear to Academies Enterprise Trust – ‘AET Out – Save Our School’. Local politicians including the likes of Ian Ward, Julian Critchley and Bob Seely joined the protest.

As reported by Island Echo on Thursday, AET have announced that they intend to amalgamate the troubled Sandown Bay Academy with Ryde Academy by September 2018. If plans are approved, the Principal of Ryde Academy, Joy Ballard, will oversee the transition between the 2 schools.

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Earlier today pupils went on their own protest by striking and refusing to go to lessons. Over 400 children of all ages sat out on the school playing field for the entirety of the morning, using the time to create banners and posters ahead of this afternoon’s public protest.

Neil Richards, National Executive Member for the teachers’ union NASUWT has today said:

“This announcement appears to be ill-conceived and made without little educational rationale. The effect of such a merger and potential closure Sandown Bay Academy will have a profound effect on the educational provision for pupils on the Island and we support parents in opposing these plans.

“This is purely a financially driven decision without any thought for the hard-working teachers and staff at Sandown Bay Academy and the effect a merger will have on their jobs and working conditions if this plan is successful. AET’s response shows a clear message from that the profit driven forces are now more important than teacher’s jobs and children’s education.

“We will continue support parents groups and work with  other Unions on the Island in opposition to this plan whilst maintaining our own position in representing our members fully in opposing this merger and supporting them through this very stressful and difficult time”.

An unnamed school worker last week told workers union GMB:

“This is nothing short of educational vandalism and asset stripping of the highest order. Why are they doing this to us from their Ivory tower in London? If they think we will sit down and take this, they don’t know us. We will fight for our community’s future”.

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