Brighton & Hove City Council considers “embracing” Nicky Morgan’s U-bend

Statement from Hands Off Our Schools Brighton & Hove

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When the Brighton & Hove Council Children’s Committee sits on 6th June, item 15 on the agenda will be a proposal to “embrace & bend” government proposals for schools to become academies. Hands Off Our Schools Brighton is committed to fighting academisation proposals in every form. We demand locally accountable, creative, autonomous and fully inclusive schools with qualified teachers for ALL our children. Other councils have rejected the government’s plans outright, we expect no less from Brighton & Hove.
Statement follows:
Late last week, Brighton & Hove Council proposed a way forward with the government’s plans for forced academisation of our schools. They wish to “embrace & bend” government plans rather than reject them outright. Hands Off Our Schools Brighton & Hove was formed in April after parents, carers, teachers & governors were outraged by the government’s announcement of the Education White paper and we are still determined to resist these plans and defend our schools, teachers and children’s education.
In presentations to head teachers & governors, it is being suggested that the Council could form a trust, a pre-emptive measure that, it is claimed, apparently safeguards against being forced to convert. This particular model for a trust is not new. Some models have adopted Multi Academy Trust (MAT) status, some have been seen as pre-MATs. It would be unfair to suggest that the creation of a trust of this sort means schools will become academies, but it’s difficult to believe that the intention is anything other than to prepare for academisation (forced or otherwise). We suggest that it’s not difficult to imagine the trust becoming a MAT if needed and for the Council to withdraw from schools, indeed one local school governor has described the council’s proposal as “schools setting up their own MAT”.
We are determined that this will not be the future for our children’s education or for our schools autonomy. We want locally accountable, creative & fully inclusive schools with qualified teachers for ALL our children. We do not want our schools run by MATs – even if the MAT is encouraged or chosen by some local Councillors. We see risks in this proposal that include schools becoming academies without a democratic decision by all parents and staff involved with each school and a tacit acceptance of the ideological narrative by government, that wholesale privatisation of education is either desirable or acceptable.
The Council’s Children’s Committee meets on 6th June http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=883&MId=6141&Ver=4 to request formal engagement from stakeholders (that’s teachers, parents, carers & pupils amongst others) about the preferred ‘partnership model’. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure YOUR voice is heard.
Join us to protect & defend our schools, our teachers and our children’s education. 
* Write to your local Councillor or to the leader of the Council to protest. A number of Councils elsewhere in the country have already expressed their total opposition to any plans for forced academisation; there is no reason why Brighton & Hove Council cannot do the same.
* Raise awareness of this issue with other parents/carers at your child’s school – you can ask us for flyers to help. 
* If you’re a teacher, talk to your colleagues. The NUT have made their opposition to academisation plans clear and are currently balloting members for strike action.
* Ask your Governing Body to make it clear they will not join a trust before proper consultation of and with the wholesale agreement of parents and staff.
Hands Off Our Schools Brighton & Hove

Are SATs Nicky Morgan’s Trojan Horse for Forcing Academies on Schools and Local Councils?

Nicky Morgan’s attempt to force all schools to become academies by 2022 exposed the huge opposition from parents, teachers and many politicians to turning good local authority schools into academies (no matter the process and no matter the academy sponsor). Yet, despite being forced to back down on her original proposal, Nicky Morgan is still determined to force many more schools to become academies and wants to see all schools convert. It’s now clear that she intends to replace her original blunt proposal with a more piecemeal and devious plan – one that is no less a threat to local schools. We now know that the Queen’s Speech will announce the intention to further add to the powers she’s already used to force many schools to become academies. These new powers will include disregarding local governors and local elected councillors and even forcing local councils to hand over all their schools if she, or her unelected, unaccountable and shadowy Regional Schools Commissioners, so decide.

Many commentators and educationalists are pointing out there has been no reversal of policy. James Williams, Lecturer in Education at the University of Sussex told Hands Off Our Schools Brighton & Hove, “This apparent U-turn is no such thing. This is a U-bend, which like its plumbing namesake, contains a trap. “The objective of full academisation remains. It will be achieved in other, much more punitive ways. The Government is still peddling the false belief that academisation achieves improvements in schools faster than leaving them in the hands of the local authority, a claim that has been disproved time and again.”

So far, Nicky Morgan has declined to provide the details of how she will deem schools and local councils to be subject to her new powers but, it seems, the new tougher SATs may have a role. Many believe that the new SATs have been designed to fail many schools (as well as, distressingly, children) and, if so, this will make it easier for Government to force schools to become academies. Within days of Nicky Morgan’s change of tack, The Sunday Times reported, As many as 1,000 primary schools are expected to be turned into academies after failing to ensure that sufficient 11-year-olds pass the new tougher national tests in maths and English”. And an analysis of existing data by the respected on line newspaper Schools Week has revealed that the large majority of local councils likely to be targeted by Nicky Morgan’s changed tack are run by Labour administrations.

Unintentionally, Nicky Morgan’s botched attempt to force all schools to become academies in a single blow and the forcing of new SATs on schools (despite the chaos surrounding them and the inability of the Schools Minister to understand them) has exposed the Machiavellian wiring behind her education policies. We can now see how toughened SATs and the proposals to remove parent governors are linked to a disregard for local democracy and the undermining, and under funding, of local councils and attempts to force schools to become academies (and grab the land).

The thousands of Brighton & Hove residents who signed petitions against forced academies, the hundreds of local parents who took action against the spiteful SATs, the teachers and governors who have raised serious concerns at the way education policy is turning schools into factory farms and the politicians who have described academisation as ‘pre privatisation’ are all opposing policies that undermine children’s education. A new consensus is emerging: the ideological nonsense behind this Government’s failing education policies must stop. We need new proposals for education policies that are intent on promoting good local schools, accountable to parent governors and local councils, and focused on providing children with a broad curriculum – not obsessed with testing.