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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 December 2007

No to academy schools!

HUNDREDS OF teachers from across north-west England demonstrated in Manchester on 1 December against the government's continuing drive to impose academy (publicly funded independent) schools on local communities.

Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT

At the rally following the march, teachers were addressed by Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the NUT and Jerry Bartlett, deputy general secretary of the NASUWT. Unfortunately, neither trade union leader provided a strategy for defeating this aggressive privatisation of our schools.

Teachers and parents across the country have launched campaigns to stop academies but only a few stopped the private sponsors. Trade unions should have stood shoulder to shoulder at the very beginning to defeat this outrageous plan. Our schools are being handed over for just 2 million, which now doesn't even need to be paid up front and can be less if the sponsor agrees to a 'buy three get one free' supermarket type offer.

Many local authorities have been blackmailed into seeking out sponsors for academy deals while parents are promised a 'state of the art' new school with high-tech facilities. In reality, academies, rather than improve education, can actually damage their children's education chances - the evidence is now becoming undeniable.

The 83 academies already set up are centred in our most deprived communities, communities that never received the proper funding for their schools that they deserved. Those pupils with special needs - learning or behaviour disabilities - are the ones most at risk through increased exclusion rates, selection or less support.

Sponsors

Far from the Brown-led government ditching the Academy project, the attack on comprehensive education has quickened in pace.

The plan now is for 400 academies to be created and a drive for new sponsors on top of the millionaire business people, Christian fundamentalist car dealers and others working in an unholy alliance to prise our schools out of democratic, accountable control.

Schools Minister Ed Balls recently claimed: "the test of... a potential sponsor should not be its bank balance, but whether it can demonstrate leadership, innovation, and commitment to act in the public interest." If that is the case, there is no question - all these schools should remain with the local authority.

The government's desire to encourage universities to become more active sponsors of academies received a blow this week when Oxford and Cambridge Universities refused to be part of the project, though it is doubtful that the twin pillars of elite academia would ever take a student from an academy in the first place.

Maybe some teachers in carpet magnate Lord Harris' seven academies will be counting the benefits of working in an academy when they learn of the offer of a 15% discount on carpet and floorings from his stores! We need to pull the rug from under his feet and return all of these schools to public ownership without any compensation.

Yes, it's called good old nationalisation! No to academies - yes to comprehensive education!

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In The Socialist 6 December 2007:

System change not climate change

Feature: The free market brings fire, flood and famine

For decent public transport!


Workplace news and analysis

DWP strike: Fighting low pay

Socialists and the trade union leaderships


What we think

Labour's funding scandal

How New Labour got hooked

Grayscale


Education

No to academy schools!

Compulsory school to 18 - a rosy future for young people?

Child poverty rises

Rail fares unfair


International socialist news and analysis

Chavez referendum result a big setback

Annapolis - a framework for further conflict

Intelligence on Iran wrong

Disunited Russia

Italy: transport strike

Kosova: After the elections - before the explosion

Northern Ireland classroom assistants

Argos strike in southern Ireland

South African miners strike over safety


Socialist Party review

The socialist review: 'Taking Liberties'


Post Office and CWU

Keep the 'people's Post Office' public

CWU ballot result


Workplace news

Unison's right wing still witch-hunting

Save Cadbury jobs!

Manchester's striking mental health workers: Defending trade union rights


 

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