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14th June 2010

We don't need more academies

Rush to 'opt out' must be challenged

The Government threatens that your school could become an academy this term!

The government has announced that all schools will be able to become academies, and those judged to be 'outstanding' by Ofsted will be automatically approved and fast-tracked.

The government is trying to rush legislation through Parliament to allow schools to make decisions about this before the end of term, and Michael Gove has written to all schools inviting them to become an academy.

The government is extending the academies programme to primary schools for the first time. This is a very big extension of the academies programme. At the moment there are only 203 academies, but there are 600 'outstanding' secondary schools and 2,000 ‘outstanding’ primary schools that Gove is hoping to 'fast track' to academy status.

The government is also hoping to create a new type of 'free' school. They are very similar to academies, but will be founded in response to parents, or other groups, who want a new school in their area.

What is an academy?

Academies can be described as 'independent state schools'. These schools will be funded centrally by the government and the money will be taken away from the local authority.

Crucially academies:

don't have to employ teachers on national pay and conditions
can set their own admission policies
are controlled by an external sponsor

Is there extra money for schools that opt out?

The only extra money available for schools that opt to become academies will be taken from money the local authority holds centrally for support services. Each new academy will get its share of this money and the central fund will be reduced accordingly.

What services does the local authority provide?

Under the funding agreement with schools the local authority holds a central fund. Some of the services this is used to provide are:

SEN support
education psychology
school transport
NQT induction
inspection and advice
governor services
school admissions
HR support

Academies will have to buy these services from somewhere else or buy them back from the LA. Is this a new idea?

Various governments have promoted this model of education, where all schools are run independently, with no strategic role for Local Authorities. However, in the past they have had to ballot parents or consult with all interested parties. Up to now Local Authorities have been able to approve or veto planned academies. Often parents have supported teachers in saying they don’t want this to happen. This time it's different.

Who will decide on this?

The government is bringing forward legislation to allow governors to make this decision by a simple majority vote at a meeting. They won't have to consult parents or staff.

What does the NUT say?

All the teachers' unions strongly oppose academy status, primarily because of the effect on local planned education provision. It leads to selection and a two tier service. Crucially, there is the threat to teachers' pay and conditions.

Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary says, 'There is no evidence that the creation of Academies has raised standards'.

Chris Keates of the NASUWT says, "Academies and free schools are a recipe for educational inequality and social segregation".

Mary Bousted of the ATL says, "These plans are irresponsible and not thought through".

Can we stop this?

Yes we can, if we organise and show our opposition. We think many parents and governors can be persuaded by our arguments. Because the move to an academy involves a change of employer, it is possible for trade unions to take strike action to prevent this happening. We also need to ensure that NUT members stand as teacher governors in schools to oppose these proposals.

What can you do?

Talk to your headteacher
Organise a joint union meeting to discuss this
Find out when your governors are meeting
Write to your governors and ask to meet them
Contact the NUT for advice and for a speaker
Come along to the public meeting on 23rd June.

 

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