Thursday 22 March 2012

Class Acts – article in the Big Issue in the North

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The number of local authority schools that have converted to academies has grown rapidly. Is education secretary Michael Gove’s schools revolution running out of control, asks Ryan Gallagher

 

At schools across England, there is a rising tide of anger and concern among parents and teachers. Amid accusations of government bullying, as a result of the 2010 Academies Act hundreds of schools are being transformed into independent institutions that operate outside the control of local authorities. The government says the change, a historic shift away from the comprehensive education system, is for the better. But critics argue it is more about creeping privatisation than improving standards.

Chorlton High School in Greater Manchester is one of many where there is active resistance to the process. Unlike some low ranking schools, which are being forced to become an academy by the Department for Education (DfE), the governors at high achieving Chorlton want to voluntarily convert. They believe that because of the current financial climate, becoming an academy would “best protect the nature and ethos” of the school.

However, parents and community activists have formed a campaign group to oppose the move, which they argue would leave the school unaccountable to local people and could open it up to for-profit providers in the future.

“We’ve got a very good school – why change it for the Tories?” says 55-year-old Mark Krantz, a former teacher whose son studied at Chorlton High.

“Without having a ballot of the community which the school serves, they don’t have the right to give our school away and turn it into an academy forever. The school’s been there for over 50 years; how can it be right that a small group of governors decide that they believe this is what should happen?”

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