Despite the recent climb-down on forcing all schools to become academies, unions remain concerned that the Government still intends for all schools to become academies over time.
Moreover, education secretary Nicky Morgan has said that schools will be forced to become academies if they are in local authorities that are ‘underperforming’, or when so many schools have already become academies that for them to remain outside the academy system would no longer be viable.
The National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Head teachers, Unison, and the Association of Educational Psychologists have issued a joint statement against ‘the mass academisation of schools’ and are calling on the Government not to include a new Education Bill in the Queen’s Speech.
They say that instead they want 'meaningful discussions' with Government on more pressing issues, such as the funding crisis, staff shortages, school places, and ‘curriculum and assessment chaos’.
Faced with real term cuts in pupil funding they say that schools are under increasing financial strain, with support staff being cut, teachers not replaced, and rising class sizes.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said, ‘We urge the Government to put on hold any further plans for creating chaos in children’s education. The Government has hardly got a shining track record on education – this year there has been chaos in the SATs tests, late notification of GCSE, AS and A-level qualification specifications and, for the second year running, the Department for Education’s (DfE) accounts have been criticised by the National Audit Office. The DfE needs to get its own house in order before creating any more turmoil in education.
‘Schools face far more pressing issues than whether or not they are academies. There is a teacher recruitment crisis, a shortage of school places, and an increase in child mental health issues all of which need the Government’s time and money more than a top down reorganisation of who runs schools.
‘Instead of throwing more chaos at schools, the Government should rethink its plans to make all schools academies, particularly since there is no evidence that becoming an academy raises the standard of education.’