CORRECTION added 9th Sept '09.
It seems that Academy sponsors make time to read this blog! The Federation Events and Development Manager from the Haberdashers' Aske's Federation has swiftly contacted me to state that, contrary to what parents, and I, had originally understood, points WILL be taken from the floor at their meeting on Monday evening. I am happy to make the correction and even happier that this gives an opportunity for parents to explain why they are opposed to their school becoming an Academy.
ADDITION Sept 14th: and many of them did indeed speak out! - we are now awaiting to see what is decided at the governors' meeting
Labour's latest announcement shows that they are determined to press ahead with their plans to extend the privatisation of schools. Taking a lead from the Haberdashers' Aske's Academies based in my borough of Lewisham - who reportedly never paid-up much of the £2 million sponsorship money then required - the Government now says that 'sponsors' can have future Academies for free!
Of course, this will only give the Tories the confidence to go even further. One London Tory borough, Barnet, is already talking of taking a "Ryanair" approach to services with just a minimimum service available to residents as of right, with other services to be paid for. The Council would employ just a few hundred employees to monitor contracts - while services would all be privatised. This would, of course, be combined with major attacks on council employees. That is the future that we face if we don't step up the fight to protect public servcies.
And here in Lewisham it's again Haberdashers' Aske's who are trying to extend their Academy empire. With the support of Council officers, they are trying to bully governors of Merlin School into supporting a takeover by the Aske's Federation (as followers of this blog will know). They have set up a meeting for parents on Monday which will be followed by a governors' meeting to again consider the proposal to support a takeover by the nearby Haberdashers' Aske's Knight's Academy.
A quick reponse had to be organised. I met with Merlin staff immediately ternm began and then discussed with parents on the local estate who are opposed to the plan. I have drafted a leaflet that we will be distributing at the school gates on Thursday to alert parents to the Council's real agenda.
As our leaflet says: The Council want to give away services to private providers - whether it is housing or schools. Academies like Knight’s are part of this policy. Privatisation doesn’t work.
There is no evidence that Academies help raise standards. In fact a recent South London Press article confirmed that GCSE results were “significantly lower in academy schools than local authority schools in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham”.
If a Council fails to deliver on education, you can vote them out. But Academies are run by unelected sponsors. Why should Aske’s be given control of Merlin School?
The Union must stand firm in taking action to oppose the threat of Trusts and Academies - but I fear that there are some on the NUT Executive that do not have the stomach for the fight. That's why I am standing for election to help strengthen those that are determined to build a united campaign to defeat privatisation.