Once you have got things started you will need to grow your campaign and keep things organised. Your most valuable supporters are key stakeholders, ie. parents, prospective parents, students and staff.
Find a friendly venue for meetings
As your group grows your living room will start feeling too small. Approach community organisations such as churches, community centres, Friends meeting houses. Explain that you are a community group with no funding. Some community organisations will allow you to use their facilities free of charge.
Create a committee and choose a spokesperson for your campaign.
This makes it possible to send communications from the committee rather than from a single person. This can prevent the campaign being dismissed as a one-person campaign and prevents one person bearing the brunt of indimidation tactics from school leadership.
- For minimum beaurocracy and maximum inclusion you could agree that anyone who attends meetings is ‘the committee’ with one or more people agreed as having the power to speak on behalf of the campaign between meetings.
- If your campaign is very large or if there are concerns that it could be hijacked for other purposes, you might want to elect a committee and a chair.
Ask Councillors and MPs to support your campaign
Don’t be disheartened if they aren’t much use, but keep encouraging other people to write to them – often politicians and councillors will only act if they have received letters from a specific number of people.
- Consider creating a standard letter for people to send
Create a mailing list
Use every opportunity to get names and email addresses of stakeholders who share your concerns. Petitions are a great way to do this (see Take Action).
- Create an email account specifically for the campaign.
- Use BCC when sending group emails to protect the privacy of your supporters.
- Keep your supporters informed with regular updates, but don’t annoy them by emailing too often. Give them the option to opt out of email updates.
- Keep a back-up of your contacts.
Contact the local press
Getting publicity for your campaign will help get your message across in the community and grow your campaign. Contact;
- Local community news websites
- Local papers – find out who is the education correspondent
- Local TV & radio
- Ask local celebrities or prominent community figures to support your campaign
Establish regular communications with school leadership
- Keep the moral highground – don’t give the leadership any grounds for legitimate complaint about your campaign, for example by making personal comments on Facebook or twitter.
- Comply with requests from the school leadership where they are reasonable.
- Try to establish cordial communications with school leadership, but don’t be cowed by unreasonable complaints – eg. ‘your campaign is bringing the school into disrepute.’ This is not a legitimate complaint – we live in a democracy and you have every right to campaign about issues that affect your community.
Seek legal advice
If the school decides to proceed against the wishes of the school community and without having conducted proper consultation, it may become necessary to make a legal challenge
- Seek legal advice at an early stage as it can inform the way you proceed with your campaign
- The teaching unions have legal teams and should be able to provide legal advice at no cost to the campaign.
- David Wolfe’s blog A Can of Worms provides a wealth of legal information about Academies
- The Resources page has contact emails for lawyers with experience of Academy challenges