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13th February 2009

Please Support our Schools Say NO to Leicester Academies Campaign

now supported by Leicester Social Forum, The Education Forum, ATL, ASCL, NUT, NASUWT, UCU, GMB, UNISON, Leicester Trades Council, & Leicester Green Party

‘Will I have to apply for my job again?’

That is frequently the question I am asked when talking to colleagues about the plans to turn Riverside into an Academy. I too wonder this, having been a teacher in the west of the city all my career and having experienced two closures, one redeployment, an amalgamation, the secondary review and now this. At a rough calculation I have written ten letters for posts that I was already doing (let’s not mention TLRs!) I have been fortunate and have never been in a position where one of these externally imposed changes has meant a salary cut or demotion, but we all know colleagues whose careers have been blighted by closures and amalgamations. It takes a special kind of teacher to work in city schools, especially those in areas of high deprivation, and the least we should expect is that our salaries are maintained.

Why do we teach in the local, state funded sector? As a product of the ‘Leicestershire Plan’ of the 60s and 70s, my personal belief in local comprehensives stems from experience as a student and a teacher. I did not enter the profession to end it working in a privately funded school where what I taught, who I taught and my pay and working conditions were dictated by outsiders that thought they could run a school. Proposals for Academies anywhere affront the basic beliefs that I hold about state education.

A question asked in puzzlement by teachers at Riverside is, ‘How will turning the school into an academy transform the results when our intake will be the same and the teachers and support staff will be the same?’ My answer to them is, ‘But will they remain the same?’ Anything could change if the ‘radical’ plan of our LA is to create Academies - will we all have jobs? Will we all want a job in an academy?

As the NUT Representative at Riverside I am trying to show that academies are essentially wrong educationally and that there are alternatives that would be much more relevant and successful for the students of this area of Leicester.

Please talk to your union representatives, attend meetings, become informed and be proactive - this is not a ‘done deal.’ Assertive action does work - look at what happened to the proposals for an Academy at Sinfin in Derbyshire.

Jenny Day (NUT Rep, Riverside Community College)

Treating people with due respect



It was kind of the council to actually inform Headteachers about their plans for Babington Community College at a recent Heads Conference. What a shame that before making public their announcement they did not have the courtesy to discuss the plans with the Principal of the College or the staff.

But then we are talking about the ‘One Leicester’ City Council where decisions are made behind closed doors with no pretence at meaningful consultation.

So, too, with Fullhurst Community College. The council and officers have been told repeatedly of the challenges facing Fullhurst and about the kinds of interventions necessary in order to support the school in making real progress. Did they listen? NO chance! They were far too busy drawing up their Academy plans to have time to organise a proper package of support based on the Transforming Leicester’s Learning strategy. So Fullhurst was left to its own devices and ended up in special measures. In many other fields of work this would be described as Local Authority negligence.

In fact, TLL has now been exposed in practice as a rather select gravy train. As revealed at Schools Forum in January, in the period January to August 2008, the city council CYPS department spent £2 million on consultants. That is £250k per month, including the summer holidays! That money could have paid for 56 full time teachers to go into schools to work alongside existing staff for one year. So Fullhurst, Riverside, Babington, New College and Hamilton could have had four additional teachers each, with 36 left to go round the Primary schools currently languishing in ‘Leicester Challenge’.

But that would have required a real commitment to collaborative working. It would have also required imagination to deploy experienced staff into the relevant schools to provide the type of focused in-class support that is needed for staff. Neither of these seems to be forthcoming from the Local Authority. Perhaps that is because their Raising Attainment Plan is still a well kept secret.

Oh Dear - Another Academy Ends In Disaster.



The Richard Rose Academy in Carlisle, which only opened in September, has now failed its Emergency Ofsted inspection. It is the latest example of why Academies are a dangerous experiment being tried out on our children's education. Richard Rose has had a catalogue of problems:
Teachers are being asked to re-apply for their jobs, with some fearing a pay cut of £10,000.
Peter Noble, Chief Executive, was the first Head Teacher with no classroom experience. He has now resigned.
Parents organised a 200 strong protest meeting, unprecedented AFTER an academy has been opened.
200 pupils organised a protest outside the school last Friday, leading to the school being closed for the day.

 

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