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Growing anger at academies
SOME GOVERNMENT ministers fear that the new Education Bill to create a system of trust schools across the country could be defeated in the House of Commons.
But previous legislation that allows millionaires and private-sector companies to start academies, that are paid for by taxpayers but have no local education authority control, are already in operation. However, they are causing big opposition in many areas as the articles below show.
IN THORNE near Doncaster, the government gave £20 million to multi-millionaire evangelist Peter Vardy's Emmanuel School Foundation to take over secondary education. They built a state of the art school - on condition that they would have no interference from the education authority.
Mary Jackson, Doncaster
Trinity Academy opened in September but the discipline is so strict that already some parents have called a public protest meeting - 300 people turned up. I've never seen such an angry meeting.
Children were getting detentions for such things as wearing a 'regulation' black bobble in their hair but 'too loose', for being in the wrong corridor (it's a massive school) and for going to the toilet in a study period (in the sixth form!).
No-one is allowed to go to the toilet except at designated times, even during the lunch break once they have left the building. One pupil had to be sick in a wastebasket because even in emergencies the ban on using the toilet at certain times is absolute!
Parents waved bundles of detention reports that their children had received in the past four months. Some pupils who had never been in detention before were now getting at least one a week. One boy had his gym kit stolen, it was reported to the school - but he still got a detention because he didn't have it with him.
Many parents tried to discuss things with the school but no-one gets back to them. The parents who instigated the meeting contacted the education authority for help, only to be told it's nothing to do with them now.
The meeting overwhelmingly decided to campaign to stop the bullying and intimidation that their children are subjected to.
A few people supported the school, one a teacher there and a parent who proudly announced that her son was in detention every session last term but he has 'only had two detentions this year' (we're only in the second week of term) so it must be working!
The headmaster commented: "if the parents don't like it they can take me on." We intend to. We're starting by leafleting for a public meeting at Moorends Hotel on 25 January at 6pm and later we may organise a march and rally if necessary.
MERTON'S NEW Labour council are trying to stifle democracy over their decision to turn two newly modernised schools in the borough into academies.
Rob McDonald, Southwark
The Campaign against Academies in Merton (CAAM) is concerned that the normal consultation period has been cut to five weeks; and that the school meetings being organised will be the first time many parents would have heard of the proposals.
Many Mitcham Vale parents will be angry at the plan to make their school a Church of England school. Tamworth Manor parents will be angry at the proposals giving Tory Lord Harris the right to steal their school.
Results have significantly increased recently at the school. The council puts forward the propaganda that it's failing so they can push through their programme.
CAAM has produced a booklet arguing the case against academies in Merton (download at http://campaignagainstacademiesinmerton.t83.net). We have linked up with local unions and other campaign groups.
We will call for a massive NO vote in the consultation and ask people to join our lobby of the consultation meeting at the civic centre on 9 February.
In The Socialist 19 January 2006: