We need to protect democracy in our society -- academies, free schools destroy it...

Lesley Whybrow's picture
 5
Free Schools, Academies take away our democratic rights. My grandparents and my father fought to protect these rights. The schools who are thinking to become an Academy do not have to consult parents, teachers, the local community and the children in their school. Only a few have to decide. It contravenes Human Rights and democratic processes.
The Coalition's proposals are totally flawed as there is no evidence that structural change raises standards. State education has been just and fair for the majority.
Education is about learning and not earning.
We need to protect state education and democracy
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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 23/12/2010 - 14:45

Academies are not democratically accountable. The Academy's sponsors, not local people, appoint the majority of governors and control the school’s curriculum. Land and assets are transferred to the sponsor. This represents a major transfer of public assets out of democratically accountable control by the local authority.

The governing body of an Academy is only obliged to have two parent governors. There is no legal obligation to have a staff governor or representatives of the local community. The provision of an Academy in an area damages the democratic planning of school places since it removes the allocation of some school places from the Local Authority.

New Academies will be “exempt charities”. This means that they will not be required to submit their annual accounts to the Charity Commission. This undermines transparency. They are subject, however, to scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act, but this relies on an interested party coming forward to make a request for data. It is not the same as a legal obligation to submit accounts to an external body.

Academies undermine national pay and conditions for teachers. In newly-formed Academies this can result in newly-appointed teachers being offered pay and conditions that may be better or worse than their colleagues who transferred from the existing, pre-Academy, school. This will undermine teamwork within a school.

Academies will divert money from other schools. However, any extra funding may not be as generous as it at first appears. Existing Academies have found problems with VAT. Academies will also be liable for any shortfall in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme

Finally, Academies are described as 'non-selective'. Yet selective schools who wish to become Academies can remain selective.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Thu, 23/12/2010 - 23:34

All the points that Janet and Lesley say are certainly true and give me grave concerns about Academies. I personally have seen Academies where they are attempting to be accountable to their local communities -- King Solomon Academy in Marylebone is a case in point -- but this is only because the Academy is making an effort to be so; they have no obligation to do this. The law needs to be changed so that they are brought under much closer scrutiny and are accountable like their maintained peers, I think. The lack of transparency, the sweeping control of the sponsor, the ability to gerry-mander admissions are all very troubling indeed.

Helen Flynn's picture
Tue, 04/01/2011 - 17:59

Something which might put schools off (if they are sensible) who are considering academy status are the new data requirements stipulated by the DfE. Looks like there will be even more paperwork in complying with the DfE than there is with the SEF, League Tables and Local Authority. If schools think they are going to be getting more autonomy, they may be getting a wake-up call sooner than they expected.

Fiona Millar's picture
Tue, 04/01/2011 - 18:48

I think there may be a hidden reason for this. I gather that the funding agreements for the converter schools potentially give the Secretary of State even more power than he/she previously had with academies. If they slip up at all, or fail to meet their 'targets', Gove will march straight in, take over, then hand the school over to a private provider to run. The idea is clearly to get as many of these schools into chains of edu-providers in the next few years. This is not dissimilar to the process of covert privatisation that is taking place in the NHS, under the guise of giving doctors more 'power'. I am just staggered by the speed with which some schools are making what is an irreversible decision without really understanding what they are letting themselves in for.
Apart from that Happy New Year to all!!

Alison's picture
Tue, 04/01/2011 - 19:00

And of course there is now the plan to force conversion to academies for about 900 "failing" primary schools...

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