URGENT contact your MP about forced Academies

Please contact your MP about the Parliamentary Debate on Forced Academies on 12th Jan 2012

On the 12th January the Rt Hon. David Lammy has secured a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of ’forced academies’. This is very important as it is the first public scrutiny of how the Secretary of State is using new powers obtained under the 2011 Education Act.
These powers appear to give Michael Gove the power to force schools to convert to academy status, regardless of the views of parents, staff, governors or the Local Authority.

We urging everybody to write immediately to your MP, whatever party, raising concerns and questions and urging them to take part in the debate.

These are some of the questions you could ask your MP

1. There is no evidence that converting primary schools into academies raises attainment. The evidence currently available suggests that the New Labour secondary school academy programme, which came with significant additional capital and revenue, has had mixed fortunes – with some academies doing very well but other doing not so well. Some academies are in the OFSTED category of ‘Special Measures’.

2. Is forced academy conversion the best value in terms of school improvement? There is abundant evidence that a relentless focus on improving teaching and learning is the most cost effective method of school improvement.

3. How does the policy of forced academies fit with the values of “Big Society” in which power is supposedly being given back to local communities? This is direct central control of schooling, disregarding the whole local community.

4. The new OFSTED chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has recently acknowledged that “academies will fail”. He is proposing a new layer of bureaucracy –local school commissioners – to oversee schools. Is there a danger of a new and costly bureaucracy which will duplicate the role of the LA?

5. The policy of forced academies has no mandate. It did not appear in either Tory or Lib Dem manifestos, or in the Coalition Agreement. In the debate at the time of the 2010 Academies Act, Michael Gove made clear that academy status was entirely a voluntary or ‘permissive’ matter.

6. The apparent absence of due process in forced academy conversions appears to breach the expected norms of public consultation. Indeed, there are doubts if there is any effective mechanism for consultation with all stakeholders. In Haringey, north London 5 schools were given 2 weeks over the Christmas holiday to agree conversion or have the academy order and sponsor imposed on them.

7. There has been no public Parliamentary scrutiny of the either Academies Programme or the Free school programme since the election, despite repeated stories in the media of financial problems and stakeholder opposition. The rate of voluntary conversions far exceed the DfE initial impact assessment which identified only 200 conversions per year. MPs have a public duty to scrutinise the impact of much greater numbers converting.

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4 Responses to URGENT contact your MP about forced Academies

  1. Julie Sale says:

    What worries me is how much power it gives to one individual to exclude kids that might need special attention rather than to lose their school place. Also, often in stories of exclusion there is more than one person involved in the story. It leaves some children victims and scapegoats.

  2. Terry says:

    Gove is behaving like a martinet… his statement that if he does not get his way he will dismiss boards of governors is astonishing and worrying. The worst of Tory Boy is alive and kicking in this man… very concerning.

  3. Janet says:

    It’s the absence of an evidence base that is so concerning. That such a drastic and irreversible conversion can be forced on a school against the wishes of the governing body, teachers, head and parents with absolutely no evidence to indicate that it is likely to be a successful change is terrifying.


    Michael Gove became secretary of state for Education on 12 May 2010. From 1988, when he graduated from the University of Oxford, until becoming a Member of Parliament in 2005, he earned his living as a journalist. His direct experience of schools, until he entered Parliament, seems to have been limited to his own and that of his two children.

    How is it that a man with no classroom teaching experience, no professional qualification in Education, and no support from either the academic community or the teachers’ unions can be endowed with dictatorial powers to change the education system affecting millions of children in England? (‘Gove condemns academy critics as ‘ideologues’ who embrace failure’ 5 January)

    There is an argument for government by amateurs. It can bring an open mind to affairs of state. But surely there must be an expectation, if not a requirement, that proposed policies are critically analysed by professionals who examine their implications and likely consequences. This rarely happens in England today. A welcome exception is an Expert panel of four experienced academics set up to establish ‘an evidence base’ to support the design of another national curriculum. But since the academies do not have to follow the national curriculum and Gove (an ideologue himself) seeks to make all schools academies this seems an empty gesture. The quangoes which might have questioned proposals have been abolished.

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