NUT claims that ‘the Government’s ultimate agenda is the privatisation of education’
Not only will George Osborne be reaching beyond his brief with an announcement on academies in today’s Budget, the central government is also overstepping its remit by summarily ending the role of local authorities in education provisions.
Already, there has been significant backlash against the proposal to turn all schools into sponsored academies.
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers commented:
“Finally the Government has come clean on its education priorities and admitted that its real agenda all along has been that every school must become an academy. The fig leaf of ‘parental choice’, ‘school autonomy’ and ‘raising standards’ has finally been dropped and the Government’s real agenda has been laid bare – all schools to be removed from the support of their LA and schools instead to be run by remote academy trusts, unaccountable to parents, staff or local communities.”
Henry Stewart of the Local Schools Network writes that forcing schools to become academies will lead to worse results. He cites the network’s research, which shows that schools rated as ‘inadequate’ are far more likely to remain that way if they become sponsored academies.
Labour must tread carefully on this issue, since academies were first introduced under Tony Blair in 2000. Lucy Powell, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, has instead emphasised that turning schools into academies does not in itself improve performance, and that it will not be a panacea for the government’s failures on education.
“The Tory record on education is one of a teacher shortage crisis, a school places system which is broken, a widening attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, and exams and assessments in schools in chaos. On school funding, the reality is schools face a real terms cut of 8 per-cent per pupil for the first time since the mid-1990s. These announcements today will do nothing to address that.”
The policy indicates the government’s obsession with unnecessary and damaging centralisation, which forces them to ignore the many advantages of having local authorities run schools that are tailored to the needs of their communities.
As the NUT argues, the policy also suggests that ‘the Government’s ultimate agenda is the privatisation of education’.
Given the furious response from teachers unions, it may be that the ongoing battle over the future of the NHS, driven by the government’s ideological attachment to privatisation, is about to spill over into the education sector.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward