Government bullies schools considering academy status!

Fiona Millar's picture
Extraordinary exchange of letters here between Chris Keates, General Secretary of the teaching union NASUWT  and Schools Minister Lord Hill. After weeks of hearing that unions are bullying governors and head teachers, it appears that the boot is on the other foot. Ministers are now so desperate that they must resort to bullying schools themselves to achieve their ideological objectives. Hill, no doubt at Michael Gove's request, has written to schools considering academy status, threatening not to give permission for conversion if they consider retaining school teachers pay and conditions, which several existing Labour academies have chosen to do.

In the letter Lord Hill states: 'We consider the ability to set the pay and conditions of staff to be one of the key freedoms of academy status. Consequently the existence of any such agreement will be a significant factor in the assessment the Secretary of State will make before deciding whether or not to enter into a Funding Agreement for an Academy'

This is just another example of the government spouting empty rhetoric about 'freedom' and 'autonomy' while trying to control everything at the same time . Surely it should be up to the school, and it's governors, to decide how they manage their staff. And why would ministers care so much about schools sticking to national pay rates and conditions anyway, unless it is because they think that the private providers that they eventually want to usher in , won't like the idea.
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 14/01/2011 - 18:01

This is very worrying but doesn't surprise me. This Tory regime is intent upon destroying union power I think. It doesn't realise that English teaching unions are by and large reasonable and help create an atmosphere of collaboration in schools which is very productive and leads to a motivated work-force.

Andrew Old's picture
Fri, 14/01/2011 - 20:18

"And why would ministers care so much about schools sticking to national pay rates and conditions anyway, unless it is because they think that the private providers that they eventually want to usher in , won’t like the idea."

Alternatively, it could be because they hate teachers.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 15/01/2011 - 11:00

Mr Gove cries freedom but it is freedom on his terms:

1 He says schools can be liberated from the shackles of the national curriculum but only if they are Academies or 'free' schools.

2 He threatens to refuse funding to schools applying to convert to Academies if they sign an agreement to retain Teachers' Pay and Conditions.

3 He says he wants to give power to local people but retains the ability to force 'failing' schools to become Academies whether local people want it or not.

4 He wants to give more autonomy to schools to decide how and what to teach but (a) introduces the Ebacc which promotes a hierarchy of subjects on which schools will be ranked and (b) tells teachers of reading that his preferred method is synthetic phonics.

Mr Gove has a strange view of freedom: it is the requirement to do what the Government thinks is right.

Paul Hopkins's picture
Sat, 15/01/2011 - 12:07

Ah - the Henry Ford model of education - "you can have any methodology you like as long as its Govian".

So, we have a freed up curriculum as long as you study Latin and Ancient History, parental choice, as long as you choose to be an academy or free school, open data, as long as it fits in with retrospective and non-consulted measures, love of Finnish schools, as long as you pick the bits you want etc...

Lies, damn lies and education ministers!


Paul Hopkins's picture
Sat, 15/01/2011 - 12:18

This bullying is not new. I was vice-chair of governors at the school which was looking for BSF funding and were told sotto voce that if we did not put in an academy bid at the same time then the new school would be offered to an academy sponsor - there was no real enthusiasm to become an academy but there was felt to be no choice - I resigned.

Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 15/01/2011 - 16:56

You are right. We had a similar experience in the authority where I am a governor. I think the last Labour government was very wrong on this issue.

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