Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/642/10419
No to academy schools!
LEILA GALLOWAY, a parent of two children at Tidemill primary school in Deptford, south London, is leading a campaign to stop Tidemill becoming an academy school, free from local authority control. In academies - where private investors take over schools and they are allowed to operate for profit - parents and teachers worry that private profit will eventually become the only motive.
Leila spoke to The Socialist:
"THIS IS my community. I feel very strongly that education should not be driven for profit. Academy schools are taken out of local control. The academies scheme is based largely on America's charter system where, research shows, schools are prone to social segregation. The writing's on the wall for it to happen here.
The government rushed legislation for academies through quicker than an anti-terrorist act. I think it's an erosion of human rights. Schools are centres of the community; in Tidemill architects built a new school alongside a resource centre, libraries, galleries - a vision of community in Deptford.
700 new flats are now being built in the area - the new tenants may not have kids now but may do in the future. Their children will need good accountable schools. If Tidemill became an academy, it would only be accountable to the secretary of state. No councillors, just a politician who knows nothing about individual schools.
I believe in comprehensive education. We've come a long way over the years in making education not a question of privilege, but academies drain money from other schools and they will be able to select their pupils. It is a huge social experiment.
Even if the present governors are OK, who knows what will happen in years to come. The school will be driven by profit - if a form of education costs too much, it won't be allowed to happen.
I've canvassed local estates with a petition demanding full consultation. I'm horrified at the depth of poverty.
Many parents don't speak English as a first language. They will find it hard to fight for their rights if anything goes wrong at the academy.
Nobody has got an overview. How can they make a decision when no alternative voices can be raised? And why aren't the councillors up in arms? If they let academies happen, what happens to councils?
But if the councillors won't fight, we will! The academies scheme has not been a success for the government - only 32 schools are following up the scheme. Many of those advising the government on academies are hedge fund bankers!
Our campaign, along with teachers' unions, is making contact with local people, not just parents at Tidemill but at other schools that will lose out from having an academy in the area. We want to build up power in the communities, and use it against this disastrous academy idea that the headteacher wants to force through so quickly."
More information on: academies.sayingno.org
In The Socialist 14 October 2010:
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