Unions welcome Parliamentary debate on forced academies

12 April 2016

The ATL, NAHT and the NUT are pleased that the Labour Party has secured a debate in Parliament tomorrow (13 April) on the Government’s plans for the forcible transfer of 17,000 schools to academy status. Under the White Paper’s plans, parents could also be banished from school governing boards and left without a voice in their children’s schools or any say over who runs them.

This was not a proposition the Conservatives felt confident enough in to put into their General Election manifesto. Within days of the announcement protests against the proposals were held up and down the country. Two petitions to Government calling for an end of the forced academies policy reached their target of 100,000 signatures in less than a week. This is a clear indication that the general public does not believe these reforms are wanted or needed.

If allowed to go ahead this will be a huge distraction from schools’ core functions of teaching and learning. Instead of focusing on children’s education, school leaders will be forced to hire and spend money on lawyers, consultants and accountants, and manage the transfer of school land and buildings.

Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers (NUT), said “This Government is ploughing ahead with a policy that is based neither on evidence or popular demand.

“Many schools have chosen to stay within their local authorities for the practical support, help and advice local councils can give. We know that academisation in and of itself does not improve education.

“At a time of huge teacher shortages, budget cuts and difficulties around curriculum and testing these are entirely the wrong priorities from a Government that is losing its way. “

Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The Government’s academies plan is all about ideology, rather than about what’s best for children and their parents since there’s no evidence converting schools to academies improves children’s education.

“There’s nothing democratic about forcing schools which have chosen to remain working with local authorities to become academies against their will. And it’s certainly not democratic to deny parents any say in the running of their child’s school.

“It is hard to see how the Government’s plans will work when there aren’t enough good multi-academy trusts to run thousands more schools and some trusts are performing as poorly as the worst local authorities.”

Russell Hobby, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: “We have serious concerns about the policy as proposed. It imposes massive costs on schools with very little evidence of benefit for children.

“The Government has not thought through the systems of support for small or isolated schools and the risk of fragmentation and distraction is large.

“The policy is all the more puzzling at a time when so many primaries are doing so well under the current system: what problem is universal academisation really designed to solve? We should be focused on some very basic issues of supply - places, teachers and funding - not top down structural change.”

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