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As Brown and Cameron back academies...
No to these divisive schools
ANYBODY WHO thought that Gordon Brown would halt the government's relentless drive to create 400 divisive Academy schools, over 200 of them by 2010, will be sorely disappointed. He has made it clear that he fully supports the programme, and is even trying to convince his mates to become sponsors!
Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT, personal capacity
With the news that David Cameron wants the Tories to abandon their support for grammar schools and put their full support behind the academies programme, the campaign against academies must be stepped up.
47 academies have now been set up with another 90 already confirmed. For £2 million, which does not have to be paid up front (the Tories actually want to end this sponsorship money in their plans), private sponsors can get complete control of a school. This allows sponsors to set pay and conditions for staff, influence the curriculum and ethos of a school, as well as to control admissions.
Costs for the building of academies are escalating, with some costing over £40 million. On top of this, nearly £50 million has been spent on private consultants and project managers - enough money to build two new schools.
But at least we're getting innovation! The most expensive academy school so far (costing £46.4 million), the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough, will not have a playground. The new CEO/Principal, Alan McMurdo, a Falklands veteran who had his first experience of teaching on HMS Battleaxe, says that he wants to run his school like a business and will treat pupils as employees!
Lunch will be incorporated into the third lesson of the day, when students will be escorted to the refectory and given 30 minutes to eat before returning directly to the classroom. What an inhumane way to treat children!
Local councils have been blackmailed by the government into agreeing to academies by the withholding of huge sums of money to rebuild secondary schools. Even where the 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme has been agreed the government continues to put pressure on councils to achieve a greater diversity of schools - in other words more academies and more Trust schools.
But one item of good news, and a setback for academies, was the result of the first ever 'competition' for a new school in Haringey, where a local authority-backed school beat off a proposed trust school, as well as two academies.
In the ten years that Labour has been in power, they have gone further with privatising our schools and education service than even Margaret Thatcher dared to do. Lord Adonis, the government minister responsible for overseeing the development of academies, may still lose his job under Gordon Brown but his brainchild, based on the Tories' City Technology Colleges, looks set to persist.
In June, MPs are to hold a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the impact of academies and trust schools. All anti-academy and anti-trust campaign groups should send delegates or written evidence to this enquiry - see www.antiacademies.org.uk for more details.
One thing is clear, where parents, teachers and communities join together in a determined campaign against the setting up of an academy, success can be realised.
In The Socialist 24 May 2007:
Labour Party leadership
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Environment and socialism