I support the teachers, teacher unions, parents, governors, non-teaching staff and others, of all political persuasion, who are interested in education and are asking the government not to proceed with the proposals in its white paper.
David Cameron’s plans to allow a further 500 free schools to be set up, and to turn all other schools into academies by 2020, run by trusts, are confusing, divisive and the last nail in the coffin of local education authorities as they are today.
Parents will no longer have a right to be involved in governing, managing or improving schools, and councils will have to hand all school buildings and land to the Department for Education for lease to the trusts, which could have headquarters anywhere in the UK.
Tony Blair’s vision of academies was to give extra money and teaching support to schools where children were not achieving the standard they should be, but Michael Gove, the Conservative minister for education, allowed any school to apply to become an academy and offered extra money to do so. There is no evidence that Mr Gove’s academies have improved standards, and with cuts in public service budgets there will be less money for every school in the future.
The money it is proposed to use to set up trusts should be spent on more teachers, working and supported in the classroom, and help for families so that every child is happy, healthy and responsive.
Over the coming months these plans will be debated in parliament. Many Conservative councillors have spoken against them and I can only hope that with the amount of opposition from so many quarters the government will be forced to do a u-turn.
Coun Muriel Green