The Socialist 12 May 2009 |
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Save our schools Weston Favell, Northampton
AT A public meeting in Weston Favell school, Northampton, 120 parents, students, staff and trade unionists discussed the proposal to change the state comprehensive into an academy. The meeting was called by English teacher Amanda Brett, and organised and promoted by teaching unions NASUWT and NUT, and Northampton Socialist Party.
Parents expressed concerns about the faith element that its proposed Christian sponsors, the United Learning Trust (ULT) would bring into Weston Favell school.
Head of the school council Joe Archer said: "If Weston Favell were to become a ULT-sponsored academy, on this side of town you could choose to send your child to Thomas Beckett, a Roman Catholic school; Northampton Academy, a ULT academy; Weston Favell, another ULT academy; or Northampton School for Boys or Northampton School for Girls, both single sex schools. There will be no option of a normal, mixed, state comprehensive."
The biggest concerns were the changes to students' education. After learning that no extra resources or funding would result from gaining an academy sponsor, one contributor simply asked: "What benefit is there then?"
Amanda Brett said: "Of the 15 schools that ULT sponsor, only one achieves GCSE results above the national average. We are told that this is because these schools were failing before they became an academy. But the evidence shows that this change results in overall decreases in A* - C pass levels.
"At Northampton Academy, they are still under the national minimum level of 30% A* - C passes, despite their shiny new school and uniform.
"At Weston Favell, we project an 11% increase this year and we can realistically expect to meet the 30% level, and build on this - providing there are no disruptions from an academy threat."
Parents took inspiration from the Save Unity College campaign, that had forced the Diocese of Peterborough's proposal to run the college as an academy to be deferred.
Weston Favell school parents organised an enthusiastic Parents Action Group. Anti-academies campaigner Lee Dunkley pointed out: "At Unity their first public meeting saw a turn-out of just 16 people, staff were not united, and the process of becoming an academy was already in motion. Nonetheless, they achieved big victories in halting the change.
"Here we caught the issue before the process began, we have stronger staff unity, and massive parental and public support in comparison. We will win this campaign!"
The Parents Action Group is organising for the consultation process on the proposed academy transition, which begins in June/July. If you know someone who is either a past, future, or current parent of a child attending Weston Favell School, and would like to get involved, contact Amanda Brett at email@example.com.