A section of the current governors are pushing the Academy plan. But opposition is widespread amongst parents, teachers, trades unionists, and the local community. The former chair of Governors, the local Lib Dem MP John Leech and some Councillors have already come out in opposition to the Academy plan. The NUT, NASUWT and UNISON are firmly opposed to the Academy plan and support the opposition led by Chorlton High and local parents.
Fifteen activists were out campaigning last Saturday in Chorlton, Manchester. Already hundreds have signed petitions opposing the Academy plan. Those pushing the Academy plan are struggling to find any support.
Many parents with children in primary schools are angry that the Academy decision could be made without their approval. ‘My children are in year 3 and 4 at primary school, but we have not been included in the consultation! Yet we would be the most effected by any change,’ explained Liz. Parents are calling for no conversion to Academy status without a ballot of the entire community that the school serves. ‘There is scope within the legislation for a community ballot,’ explained Keith Bradley at the launch of the Anti Academy Alliance (AAA) Campaign held at the school last week. ‘We can help with the financing of a poll,’ said Keith, a Unison organiser and steering committee member of the AAA.
‘I have a child in Chorlton High’ explained one parent at last week’s 35 strong meeting, ‘and I used to teach in a school that has changed into an Academy. Most of the teachers have now left that Academy school. A teaching assistant now takes English classes there. I would not have sent my child to this school if I had known it would convert to an Academy,’ she said.
James is a local parent. ‘If the results are worse in Academies why convert? Our school already out-performs Academies,’ he said. Carl has a child in year 7. ‘I grew up round here and I want to maintain the diverse, multi-cultural, multi social school we have here,’ he explained. ‘The plan to convert to an Academy is a political decision aimed at expanding the neo-liberal economic model into our schools. We are opposed to that.’
The central argument put forward from those governors pushing the plan is that while they agree that Academies are not good, they fear that if they do not convert now then they will be forced by Michael Gove to convert later.
Parent Guy counters such defeatist arguments saying, ‘fear is no basis upon which to make educational policy, and “running from the bully”, by taking the first step down the Academy road, will not make the bully go away! Those Tories in the Coalition who advocate “for profit” education companies having a greater share of the education market would be strengthened if Chorlton High governors push through the conversion of our school into an Academy.’
Campaigners are determined to sink these Chorlton Academy proposals. The campaign will step up a gear this week, and culminate in a lobby of the Governing Body on 20th March. ‘If they still decide to push ahead with the conversion proposal we will continue campaigning through April up to the final governors meeting,’ explained Kevin Orr, chair of Chorlton Parents Against Academy.
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