Wednesday 8 September 2010

The Academy 'train' is still only crawling along - let's apply the brakes!

One Headteacher in the latest TES talks about needing to jump on the Academy 'train' before it is too late - but the reality is that Gove's train is only crawling down the track. A firm campaign can help stop his divisive plan gaining any more momentum.

Far fewer schools have applied to become Academies than the Government had hoped for. Now the DfE is rushing around trying to convince more schools to jump on board and help the Government's plans to divide and privatise education.

This morning, at Tidemill Primary School, DfE officials were sent to speak to a parents' meeting to extol the virtues of Academies. Again, their argument was that all schools will be going this way - so why shouldn't Tidemill jump first? It is an argument that reveals their true agenda to dismantle Local Authorities - and one that left many parents unconvinced.

This followed a public meeting organised by Tidemill Parents Against Academies on Monday evening where I spoke on behalf of the NUT alongside Alasdair Smith from the Anti-Academies Alliance. Over 50 parents, local councillors, governors, trade unionists and other campaigners attended. It was, at times, a sharp discussion - one that will have made clear to governors that this was a highly controversial proposal that they were considering. It was also made clear that this wasn't just an issue for Tidemill governors but for the whole local community whose education could be put at risk.

The campaign achieved a first small victory when it was confirmed that governors would be agreeing to extend the consultation timetable after all. Now we want to make sure that a full and genuine debate is held where all sides of the argument can be heard and without decisions being rushed through to suit those - like Michael Gove - who want to drive this dangerous policy forward.

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