Monday 28 November 2011

Why is the Church of England supporting the privatisation of education?

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Leaflet distributed at Leicester Cathedral by Leicester Support Our Schools campaign.

We believe that the various voluntary aided schools in the city have an important place as part of the local community of schools. In Leicester we have, for several years, been working on the basis of cross school collaboration. This has involved schools working together both in development groups and via CPD arrangements sharing ideas, good practice and expertise. Local Authority led initiatives like ‘Whatever it Takes’ have provided additional funding to Primary schools to support reading and offered children exciting events like Author Week and Story Week. These have been available to all maintained schools in the city without exception.

 

Earlier this year, the Catholic Education Service and Church of England made an agreement with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to encourage their VA schools to become Academies, where it was deemed appropriate. Under the agreement, transfer of ownership of land and assets to the new governing body of an Academy school would not apply in the case of VA schools. The Diocese would retain ownership of both the land and the school buildings. This property arrangement is NOT available to Local Authorities.

 

The Coalition government’s purpose in making this agreement with the CES and the C of E was to assist its drive to privatise education and break up the system of Local Authority led neighbourhood Comprehensive schools. The effect of the spread of Academies, which are Independent schools funded by the taxpayer, will be to make local planning of school places impossible, undermine cohesive city wide planning of school improvement and turn education in to a marketplace where schools compete for pupils, resources and expertise.

 

The Catholic Nottingham diocese recently announced plans to seek to create an Academy Trust of County and City Schools. The Leicester Diocese of the C of E is considering similar plans for its schools. We ask a simple question. Why is the church supporting the Conservative Party’s drive for privatisation? These plans will take the schools out of the collaborative network of local schools in the city and deprive children of the opportunity to participate in Local Authority run initiatives like ‘Whatever it Takes’. They will segregate church schools from other local schools, fragmenting provision and seriously impairing joint working with neighbouring LA schools through LA led events like staff training and the Leicester Leaders meetings for Heads.

 

Academies are not bound by national pay and conditions arrangements. Staff at Academies lose their continuity of Local Government service, which affects maternity rights and sickness rights. We do not understand why the Church and the governing bodies would wish to worsen the conditions of employment of their hard working teaching and non-teaching staff. We urge you to resist any attempts to isolate Leicester church schools from other local LA schools. Working together for community cohesion in a City like Leicester should include all communities.

 

We share the city; lets work together to provide the best education for our children.

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