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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 June 2010

Comprehensive education under attack

Build a mass campaign against academies

Education: Protest against handing over publicly owned school land and buildings to private trusts and academies in East London, photo Alison Hill

Education: Protest against handing over publicly owned school land and buildings to private trusts and academies in East London, photo Alison Hill   (Click to enlarge)

Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is rushing an Academies Bill through parliament. Around 600 secondary and 2,000 primary schools found 'outstanding' by Ofsted are being invited to fast track to academy status. Gove hopes that eventually all schools will become academies. This spells disaster for comprehensive education.

If the government is so convinced this is a good idea, why is it removing any opportunity for parents, teachers or the local authority to have their say? Once a head teacher registers 'interest' in becoming an academy, the decision will be made on the basis of a simple majority vote by school governors. The schools are not theirs to give away.

Such is the speed of the process that some schools could be academies by September. Students and parents could find that the schools they have enrolled in are not what they expected. This is completely undemocratic.

This is the road to a two-tier education system. Academies can be selective so they can pick and choose who they want to teach. This will tend to be those who need least support and so will be the 'cheapest' to teach. Students who are excluded by an academy's selection policy could end up in schools that are starved of cash.

This means the end of the state education system as we know it. Academies will be a law unto themselves. The academy sponsors or governors will decide what gets taught, who gets taught, who teaches, what they earn, and other crucial decisions that parents, teachers and local authorities will be locked out of.

Education will be stolen from national and local public control and handed to big business and charities. Individual academies will potentially be swallowed up by education profiteers to be run as chains of privatised schools.

Academies are not covered by general education law which means that their students, parents and teachers have fewer rights than those of schools in the comprehensive sector.

By dividing schools among different academy managers, national pay and conditions arrangements will be torn apart. This could entail Saturday work, and other changes to the work of teachers and school staff.

Past campaigns have shown that action by parents, teachers and students can disrupt these plans - don't let education be put at risk.

The government is acting fast. We must also respond quickly.

Parents and teachers should organise lobbies of school governors' meetings immediately. Contact your school to find out when the next meeting is and get the contact details for the governors to register your opposition with them.

Parent Action Groups are needed on a borough-wide and school by school basis. Pass around a petition among parents to hand into the head teacher to show opposition.

Organise school gate and other local meetings to initiate a campaign and to inform other parents about the dangers posed by a transfer out of the Local Education Authority.

All those who oppose this stealing of our schools from local communities should join the protests on budget day, 22 June, when the government will announce cuts that will affect 'every one' of us.

Let teachers know that you would support them balloting for strike action to stop state education being dismantled. If you are a teacher get in touch with your union immediately to register your support for action against Gove's plans.

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In The Socialist 16 June 2010:

Millionaire ministers savage public services

'Bloodbath budget' day protests and meetings


Comprehensive education under attack

Opposing 'Dickensian' academy schools in Waltham Forest

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Save the Big House

Socialist Party editorial

Labour leadership contest dominated by right wing

Socialist Party news and analysis

TUSC plans for future elections

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Willetts approves tuition fees hike

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International socialist news and analysis

Greece: A test bed for 'austerity' and resistance

Spain: Millions of public sector workers strike over brutal cuts

Portugal: Mobilisation against austerity reaches new level

Socialist Party Scotland launched at packed and inspiring meeting


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