Unions to hold rally against academisation of schools

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Teaching unions protesting against the Government’s plans to force all schools to become academies are holding a rally in London later today.

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All schools in England will be forced to convert to academies

The event has been organised by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Public opposition has been mounting since the announcement was made in George Osborne’s budget last week and the publication of the education White Paper detailing the plans.

As of this morning, two petitions on the Government’s e-petitions website calling for the policy to be scrapped have achieved a total of more than 250,000 signatures in less than a week.

One of the peititions calling for a public inquiry and a referendum against the proposals has so far been signed by more than 131,000 people.

It says that the move was not in the Conservative manifesto and is ‘completely undemocratic’.

It adds, ‘There is growing evidence that academies underperform & serious questions about their financial oversight. Buildings & land are being handed over to unaccountable orgs. Once they are transferred there is no legal mechanism to get them back. Before all schools become academies we demand the government holds a full public inquiry - that takes into account educational research and the views of teachers, parents and students - followed by a referendum in order to show that they have a mandate.’

Another petition calling on the Government to scrap the plans to force state schools to become academies has been signed by more than 121,000 people so far.

Once signatures pass the 100,000 mark on the Parliament petitions website they will be considered for a parliamentary debate.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general Secretary of the NUT, said, ‘The Government should be addressing the real issues facing schools: the teacher shortage, the lack of pupil places, the chaos in the curriculum. The White Paper is a distraction from those central concerns.

‘Incredibly, this is all being done despite the fact that there is no evidence that academies improve the educational results of children. We must all speak out to keep education in the hands of our communities and stop this reckless and destructive policy.

‘There are serious democratic concerns surrounding the White Paper. Its proposal to convert all schools to academies wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto, and it deliberately cuts parents out of decision-making about their schools.’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said, ‘Against all logic, and evidence, the Government is promoting its ideology to fragment the education system. There is no evidence academies improve children’s education. All the evidence shows the quality of multi-academy trusts (MATs) is highly variable.'

Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has said that the worst MATs are performing as badly as the worst local authorities, she added.

'And a Government that keeps on saying how much it believes in parental choice is about to remove all choice from parents about the schools available for their children and who runs them,’ she said.

Demonstrations are also taking place in Birmingham and Coventry, backed by the GMB, which represents school support staff.

David Warwick, GMB regional organiser, said, 'Forcing academy status and dismantling the local education authorities means removing any public scrutiny and democratic accountability to local educational provision.  

'We can see in Coventry, with the closure of Woodlands Academy, the results of this Government’s education policy.

'This action is part of a barrage of chaotic decision making without planning or strategic thinking.  Schools are becoming competing ' business units,' fighting like rats in a sack for an ever reducing pot of money.

'It is the staff, the pupils and ultimately society as a whole who will suffer the most.'

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has also faced widespread hositility on Mumsnet after she defended the academisation plans in a guest post on the parenting website on Friday, the day the education White Paper was published.