Lincolnshire County Council: ‘Government’s ill judged plans … are causing real concern to councillors across the spectrum’ ‘Put simply, enforced ‘academisation’ is anti democratic, and there’s no evidence it will do anything but deny choice’. (Executive for Children Services)
Oxfordshire County Council: the plans are ‘bonkers’, ‘I’m fed up with diktats from above saying you will do this and you won’t do that.’ (Cabinet Member for Education).
Birmingham City Council: ‘well achieving schools’ should not be forced ‘into a reorganisation that the school does not believe to be in the interest of its pupils’ (Council Statement).
Luton Borough Council: forced academisation would be ‘damaging’ and could even prevent the Council ensuring ‘adequate provision’ for every child in the borough. (Council Leader)
Derbyshire County Council: ‘… absolutely no evidence that academies improve the outcomes for children, so … mystified … why the government insists on pressing ahead … . We will do all we can to support parents and schools opposing the move’. (Cabinet Member for Children’s Services)
Kent County Council: ‘the government appears to have come to a view that it knows what is better for schools than the schools themselves.’ ‘We do not believe there is an evidence base for this wholesale change’. (Cabinet Member for Schools).
Hampshire County Council: ‘To force all schools would be ridiculously expensive and … the wrong thing to do and also could cause … a drop in standards in all our schools’. (Council Leader)
Gateshead Metropolitan Council: the ‘plans to force all schools to become academies [have] been greeted with disbelief and dismay by parents, teachers and politicians.’ ‘We will seek to encourage campaigning against the White Paper …’ (Motion passed by Council)
West Sussex County Council: “I have reservations that the ‘one size fits all’ academies approach … does not seem to promote any benefits to pupils and parents … . We have very specific concerns about how vulnerable children will fare under the proposals ….” (Council Leader)
Brighton & Hove City Council: There is ‘no appetite for academisation of schools in Brighton & Hove’. ‘The proposals will result in the ‘pre-privatisation of our state education system’ with no local accountability. ‘… Her Majesty’s chief inspector has uncovered a worrying trend of fat cat salaries and the poor performance of academy chains compared to council maintained schools. ‘Instead of wasting public money … the Conservatives should be spending … money in the classroom and tackling the national and local teacher shortages … . Instead, they are embarking on a full frontal assault on local democracy.’ (Council Member for Children’s Services)
Lord Baker (Margaret Thatcher’s Secretary of State for Education who introduced the National Curriculum) has spoken out against forcing schools to become academies and the Chairman of Conservative 1922 Committee has warned the proposals could lead to ‘new and distant bureaucracies’. Backbench Conservative MPs from across the country have questioned the value of enforced academy status for high performing schools, questioned the lack of evidence for the proposals, suggested a ‘well run school that’s performing well’ should be left to ‘do its job’ and asked ‘why something, that is obviously not broken, needs fixing’.
Local Government Association Labour Group: ‘It’s astonishing that at a time of major cuts to school budgets, the Government would propose spending hundreds of millions turning all schools into academies when there is not a shred of evidence that it will help improve school standards.’ ‘These changes are not inevitable and governing bodies should not rush to convert’.
Liberal Democrat Leader: the compulsory academy plan is ‘worse than misguided – it is downright harmful. It will be a costly and disruptive process for thousands of schools’.
Stockport Labour Group: ‘Putting types of schools up against each other in competition is not a pathway to school improvement, nor is undermining the invaluable role of Parent Governors and making schools less accountable to the communities they serve, and nor is leaving Councils with responsibility for provision of places whilst ‘freeing schools from local authority control’.
MP for Bristol South: ‘By focusing on reorganising school structures, government ministers are trying to answer a question no one is asking.’ ‘… a one size fits all model … is ridiculous. Why tip up the applecart for ideological reasons?’ ‘At a time when the government talks about devolving powers down to local communities, forced academy status does exactly the opposite.’
MP for Brighton Pavilion: ‘Local authorities are needed to ensure good planning and fairness across a local area. They can provide … support services for pupils with special educational needs’. ‘Many people in … Brighton and Hove, have resolutely opposed academies. Forcing parents, teachers and pupils into accepting these changes by Government diktat is deeply undemocratic. “This is part of a sustained attack on local government. Funding has been slashed, services have been cut and now they are seeing this outrageous attack on their vital role in local education. I fear the Government want to lead us down the path of the privatisation of education.’
Deputy General Secretary of the NUT: ‘… Nicky Morgan said: “We want parents to be more involved in their children’s education, not less”. But they will have no voice over academisation nor even which chain. She said: “We support the idea of parents being school governors.” But she intends to remove the requirement for elected parent governors.’
Chief Executive of Harris Academy Federation argued in The Guardian that teachers shortages and the gap between teachers’ salaries and housing costs were of ‘greater concern than full scale academisation’ and that to press ahead with forced academisation was ‘a distraction’.
Head teacher letter of resignation (Durham): ‘The current expectations and curriculum, as I see it, will not raise standards’. ‘I believe the current system is putting undue pressure, not just on our pupils, but on hard working staff, too.’ ‘I don’t believe that the Government’s drive to force us all to become academies is the way forward.’ ‘I’ve always had conservative values but I believe that we need to have a social conscience and that the education of children is what I have at heart’.
Head teacher letter of resignation (Sussex): ‘The narrowing of the curriculum … has increased significantly over the last two years … and I have increasingly felt that we are ‘factory farming’ our children …’ ‘The recent announcement that all schools should become academies has further strengthened my belief that now is the time to leave a career that has been central to my life …’ ‘I strongly believe in a state system in which all children have access to a good rounded education and where staff are treated with respect and enjoy fair working conditions, I do not believe this will be possible under our progressively fragmented educational system’.
Head teacher and Chair of Governors letter to parents (Brighton & Hove): ‘We reasonably fear that academisation will lead to a fragmentation of the education system, where corporate interests will override educational interests. … the present terms and conditions for teachers will no longer be protected and schools will be able to appoint unqualified teachers. It is also still not clear what impact academisation will have on admissions. … We already work very effectively in an informal partnership of schools. We learn from each other and share capacity, whilst maintaining our independence. We are also directly accountable to the Local Authority. Therefore, we will offer our support to the political campaign which is gaining momentum against the academisation programme’.
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The meeting on Wednesday evening (6 April 2016) attracted an audience of almost 100 people to discuss how to oppose the forced academisation of schools in Brighton and Hove and across the country. There were teachers and school support workers, heads, governors, parents, teacher trainers, and students. As the chair Simeon Elliott said, the degree of expertise in education present in the room was formidable. There was great determination to launch a campaign and a strong sense that this is a campaign that we can win. Click on the photo to see the Meridian TV report of the meeting.
Forced academisation wasn’t in the Tories’ manifesto. It’s obvious why not – it was bound to be an unpopular policy and they knew that many of their own candidates and supporters would be against it. The meeting was strongly against forced academisation. The idea, promoted by the Labour leadership of Brighton and Hove City Council, that the council might establish a local academy trust was roundly rejected. We are against academisation in principle. Establishing a trust would be to do the Government’s dirty work for it and can only neutralise opposition. We should fight back while the Tories are split. The council in Birmingham has voted to reject forced academisation; B+H CC should do the same.
We know that there are problems in education. There is a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. Funding cuts are harming children’s education. Many areas are short of school places. Primary testing is proving unworkable. These are problems largely created by this Government and they will not be solved by the proposals in the White Paper. Continue reading