Academy schools were originally set up to turn around failing schools and the academisation was accompanied by an injection of cash from the Government. Academies were original single schools run by a Trust or part of a Trust of two or three schools.
The current Government has announced that all schools are to become Academies, including primary schools, by 2020 but have no mandate to do so as it was not part of their manifesto and there has been no consultation of local communities as to whether they want this policy across their local authority. The Government is promoting the expansion of Multi Academy Trusts. These tend to pay higher than usual 6 figure salaries to “Chief Executive Principals” and management staff, whilst often moving away from the National Pay Scale and terms and conditions for teaching staff, which they are not obliged to follow.
Privatisation of education by the back door
- Academies are not obliged to follow the National Curriculum.
- They are not accountable to the local authority – and thereby not accountable to the community in any democratic way.
- They are not obliged to include parents or teachers as governors.
- They can set their own salary scales and terms and conditions for staff.
- The lack of accountability should be of particular concern to parents as they do not come under the local authority for admissions so this will affect the ability for admissions to be carried out under a coordinated strategy.
- The governors can vote to become an academy based on the majority vote of the number of governors present at the meeting (not of the majority of governors in total).
- Teaching staff do not have to be consulted.
- Consultation can take place after the decision to become an academy has been made.
- The Academies are accountable only to the DfE via only 8 Regional Commissioners nationally who are unelected officials who will each be responsible for thousands of schools.
There is also no evidence that Academies perform better than any other type of school. This was pointed out by the Conservative led Education Select Committee and the Sutton Trust and the cross party Local Government Association. Changing the structure of a school does not improve it, a school can be improved only by the strength of its leadership and staff and the support it receives from parents and the community.
This is an unnecessary and costly ideological policy:
- It will cost £600 million over 4 years.
- The majority of schools are good or outstanding (85% of primary and over 70% of secondary) so do not need this disruption.
- The government has cut the schools funding grant to local authorities.
- It does not address the real and imminent problems facing education – teacher shortages and growing class sizes.
- There is no clear process as yet for how parents or headteachers can choose to leave a poorly performing Academy chain.
This policy is being opposed by Conservatives and Labour bodies alike: by the Local Government Association; the Sutton Trust; the list goes on. The Education Select Committee is calling the Education Secretary to appear before them to discuss this. Meanwhile members of the National Union of Teachers rejected Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan’s White Paper and the NUT Conference has decided to ballot for strike action.This Tory government is effectively going to systematically dismantle the state education system by academisation and by the time communities realise what academisation really entails, it will be too late!
Jeremy Corbyn Speaking at the National Union of Teachers Conference March 2016