5th Dec, 2016

Teachers protest against government plans to turn all Coventry schools into academies

Les Reid 27th Mar, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

TEACHERS in Coventry are demonstrating against government plans for all schools to become academies – claiming it will not help pupils.

Coventry National Union of Teachers joint secretary Jane Nellist joined NUT national executive members in condemning the announcement in last week’s Budget by chancellor George Osborne.

Teachers, support staff and parents will be lobbying the Department For Education office in Coventry tomorrow (Wednesday March 23) at 4.30pm over the plan to force all schools to be academies by 2022.

The lobby was called by Coventry NUT and supported by ATL, UNISON and GMB trade unions.

They say two petitions against the plans have gained the required 100,000 names to win two Parliamentary debates in just four days.

In Coventry and Warwickshire, many secondary schools have already switched from so called council-maintained status to become academies with more independence – replicating the national picture. But the picture is more mixed among primary schools.

The government claims conversion to academy status – where some academies are run by trusts with ‘sponsors’ including private companies – has been driving up standards since the Conservatives formed part of the government in 2010, a claim disputed by opponents.

The previous Labour government had introduced academies, but restricted them to only the most failing schools in disadvantaged areas.

Mrs Nellist said: “We are appalled with the announcement by the government to force all schools to become academies and to effectively do away with local education authorities.

“The fig leaf of ‘parental choice’, ‘school autonomy’ and ‘raising standards’ has finally been dropped and the government’s real agenda has been laid bare –schools to be run by remote academy trusts, unaccountable to parents, staff or local communities.

“We are sure that parents will be as outraged as teachers that the government can undo over 50 years of comprehensive public education at a stroke.

“Evidence presented to the government clearly demonstrates that academy status does not result in higher attainment and that many academy chains are badly failing their pupils, particularly their disadvantaged pupils.

“The NUT will continue to resist the government’s attempts to privatise our education system and will campaign alongside parents and other allies to Stand Up for Education.

“The most urgent problems in schools are to do with the chronic teacher shortage, real terms funding cuts, the school places crisis, chaotic implementation of the curriculum, and workload going through the roof. The drive towards total academisation will do absolutely nothing to fix those problems.”

She said the threatened closure of Woodlands Academy and merger with Tile Hill Wood School – with the government-backed new Finham Park II ‘free school’ set to locate nearby – was an example of government education policy failings.

She said it “demonstrates that we need a strong local authority to plan for education and to hold schools to account.”