Children will pay the price of forced academies policy

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Children will pay the price of forced academies policy, says Prospect

Prospect has accused the government of using the future of England’s children as a political football by announcing in the Budget that all schools will be forced to become academies, independent of local authority control, by 2020.



The union represents more than 3,000 professionals in education and children’s services, including school improvement officers.

National secretary Philippa Childs said: “Removing local authority powers and local accountability to hand all England’s schools over to academy trust chains is the result of political dogma and not based on evidence. It is a decision that puts ideology before the needs of children.

“Local authorities have the expertise to plan and improve education on the basis of local needs and knowledge, and to make sure there are enough school places. They ensure that admission procedures are fair and that children are treated equally, regardless of ability and social background.

“Handing even more schools, and taxpayers’ money, to academy trust chains, run by private sponsors, removes this accountability and will lead to competition where there should be collaboration.”

Last week Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that many academy trusts show the same weaknesses as the worst-performing local authorities. He also drew attention to the huge salaries paid to some academy chief executives – money that “should be used to raise school standards”.

Childs said: “There is no evidence that academies perform any better than local authority-run schools. What is the point of forcing successful schools to make the switch? Our members tell us that the majority of primary schools would not welcome academy status.

“The freedom that academies have over the content of the curriculum and staff pay scales will do nothing to address teacher shortages or raise educational standards.”

Rushed consultation

Earlier this week the Department for Education released two consultation papers proposing to hand budgets straight to schools and remove local authorities as a funding channel.

Buried in the national funding formula document is the removal of all funding for school improvement officers in local authorities, threatening thousands of jobs.

It also favours rural schools in more affluent areas above urban schools in socially deprived areas. Yet stakeholders have only been given until 17 April to respond.

“The government has set out to fundamentally change the way our entire education system is funded and run,” Childs said. “Yet it wants to rush these changes through without proper discussion and consultation with the stakeholders who really matter, including parents, governors and local councils of all political persuasions.”

Currently 2,075 of 3,381 secondary schools are academies, while 2,440 of 16,766 primary schools have academy status.

 

For further information, contact

Philippa Childs

T: 01455 555200

M: 07770 304489

philippa.childs@prospect.org.uk

 

Penny Vevers

T 020 7902 6606

M 07713 511710

penny.vevers@prospect.org.uk