Wednesday 21 October 2015

Kevin Courtney replies to Nicky Morgan’s attacks on parents who oppose academies

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Downhills NUT strike

Teachers and parents opposed to the academisation of Downhills

Commenting on Nicky Morgan’s attack on those in their community who campaign against academisation, including forced academisation, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said; 

“The Department for Education’s press release has been timed to coincide with the passage of the Education and Adoption Bill through the Lords. If passed without amendment, this Bill could result in thousands more schools being forced into sponsored academy arrangements against the wishes of local communities. This is despite the absence of evidence that academy status results in improved standards. Even the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has been forced to concede that the Government ‘does not believe that all academies and free schools are necessarily better than maintained schools.’ (1)

“Crucially the Bill removes the consultation rights for parents, teachers and governors who in future would have no say over whether their school should become an academy, or the sponsor who would take it over. Nor would they be entitled to any information on the relative performance of the proposed sponsors compared with their local authority. It is therefore the undemocratic and illiberal Education and Adoption Bill which is underhand and intimidating, not the parents, grandparents and supporters of campaigns against forced academisation.

“The unsubstantiated attacks by the DfE on parents and local communities whose only crime has been to defend their school against the Government’s strong-arm-route tactics to force schools into academy status, including deploying bullying academy brokers, is utterly shameful. Under Nicky Morgan’s watch, the Department has plumbed new depths.

“Furthermore some of the ‘success’ claimed by academy heads, as cited in the press release, was occurring before these schools became academies. For example, results of SATs tests taken in May 2012 at Downhills, four months before the school was taken over by Harris,  show progress in English exceeded the national average (89%) by two percentage points (91%); while progress in Maths was just one percentage point (86%) below the national average (87%). It is not possible to make a direct comparison with the Key Stage 2 performance score for reading and maths prior to Downhills becoming an academy because from 2013 the reading national curriculum test and writing teacher assessment results were no longer combined to produce an overall English level. Instead, reading and writing results were reported on separately. This is yet another example of shoddy statistics emanating from the Department for Education.

“The Government’s assault on parents is a far cry from its claims that its academy and free school programme would give parents more ‘choice’ and a greater say in their child’s education. It is quite clear with this latest pronouncement from Nicky Morgan that the Government will stop at nothing to railroad schools, parents and communities into being forced to accept a school system that is neither wanted nor needed and for which there is no evidence base.

“Nicky Morgan should be concentrating on the real problems faced by schools such as a growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis and huge pressure on budgets and growing pupil populations. It is ridiculous that these issues are being ignored while the Government fixates on pushing through yet more privatisation.”

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