NEW LABOUR’S academy schools are overwhelmingly state-funded but they are privately run – usually by millionaires or religious bodies. The Institute of Public Policy Research’s (IPPR) latest think tank report says that the expansion of academies and Trust schools undermines the comprehensive nature of secondary schools.
The IPPR’s report is particularly critical of ‘faith schools’ that are very unrepresentative of their local areas through academic and denominational selection.
Tony Blair however, as part of his dire ‘legacy’, has struck a deal between education ministers and the Church of England. The C of E is expected to sponsor 100 academy schools. It is part of New Labour’s plans to increase academy schools from their present 46 to 400.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, describes this deal as “Blair’s final, self-indulgent gift to the religious establishment.” His gift will cost the Church £1.5 million per academy (out of a total cost of £20-30 million per academy). In return they will gain a large degree of control of the school’s curriculum and ethos.
Sanderson comments: “The C of E cannot get children into church, so it is determined to bring church into school where the children have no choice and no escape”. Most parents would be happy if they could be sure that every school is a good school, non-selective and democratically run by an education authority accountable to local people.