Kevin with Simon O’Hara who led a successful fight against an academy but has been victimised in the process
Commenting on reports in the media that all schools in England will be forced to convert to an academy, in a schools white paper set to be announced this week, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Finally the Government has come clean on its education priorities and admitted that its real agenda all along has been that every school must become an academy. The fig leaf of ‘parental choice’, ‘school autonomy’ and ‘raising standards’ has finally been dropped and the Government’s real agenda has been laid bare – all schools to be removed from the support of their LA and schools instead to be run by remote academy trusts, unaccountable to parents, staff or local communities.
“Parents will be as outraged as teachers that the Government can undo over 50 years of comprehensive public education at a stroke. Only last week HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw pointed out to Government the serious consequences for children’s education of schools being run by multi-academy trusts. But this arrogant Government is choosing to ignore the evidence from the HMCI, the Education Select Committee and the Sutton Trust’s own Chain Effects report, which clearly demonstrates that academy status not only does not result in higher attainment but that many chains are badly failing their pupils, particularly their disadvantaged pupils.
“The Government’s ultimate agenda is the privatisation of education with schools run for profit. The NUT will continue to resist the Government’s attempts to privatise our education system and will campaign alongside parents and other allies to Stand Up for Education.
“The most urgent problems in schools are to do with the chronic teacher shortage, real terms funding cuts, the school places crisis, chaotic implementation of the curriculum, and workload going through the roof. The drive towards total academisation will do absolutely nothing to fix those problems.”
Veteran anti academies campaigner and Islington NUT joint Secretary Ken Muller had an unexpected opportunity today.
He and some colleagues ran into Michael Wilshaw the head of government inspection service Ofsted. Ken who led the fight against the academisation of Islington Green school under the New Labour administration and was a founder of the AAA was able to put some questions to Sir Michael directly.
Ken challenged Wilshaw over his statement “If anyone says to you that staff morale is at an all-time low you know you are doing something right.” Its seems that, at least according to Sir Michael, that this statement was taken out of context although by whom he did not say. Ken argued that Ofsted had introduced a climate of fear into schools that led to a rigid conformity by school managements as to ‘what Ofsted wants’. This leads to teaching to testing regime and teaching to the test Ken told him. Wilshaw insisted that schools were better than 10 years ago.
As he left we took a vote, ‘Should Ofsted be abolished?’ Unanimously in favour!
Fighting Academies at Small Heath School in Birmingham
By Jess Edwards, Lambeth NUT Joint Secretary
Last month saw the passing of the Education and Adoption Bill and as some commentators have said this is a dark day for education.
The government’s plans for primary schools to become academies seems to have run into snags with 82% of primaries still run by local authorities. The Bill will force more schools to become academies but is based on scant evidence. In fact even the Education Committee of parliament finds little to recommend about academies saying that:
There is at present no convincing evidence of the impact of academy status on attainment in primary schools.
It is against this background that recent moves by local authorities to begin discussing future structural changes with schools must be set.
In my previous article I was of the opinion that local authorities were adopting a ‘jump before you are pushed’ attitude to academisation. Schools across London from Greenwich, Lambeth and Islington are reporting that governing bodies are discussing their school becoming an academy. In discussions with them, local authority leads on education have denied that this is their attitude. They are merely seeking to clarify matters in the light of the Education Bill they say.
This may be pragmatic but it is an insufficient. In the current climate with the government pushing for the formation of Multi Academy Trusts, Labour Local Authorities need to outline plans to maintain schools under local democratic control.
Small Heath School in Birmingham will take further strike action on Tuesday 23 in defence of victimised NUT rep Simon O’Hara.
The school has successfully fought off the threat of becoming an academy. It was during this dispute that Simon was victimised. The action will continue on Wednesday and Thursday. Please visit the picket line or send messages of support to to firstname.lastname@example.org