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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2010

Academies: Fight the Tories' offensive on state education

Cardiff parents beat council cuts in 2006, photo Socialist Party Wales

Cardiff parents beat council cuts in 2006, photo Socialist Party Wales

GOVERNMENT EDUCATION minister Michael Gove is determined to push through the Tory agenda of putting 'rocket-boosters' under the academies programme. He has written to every school encouraging head teachers to go on the department for education (DFE) website to register interest in becoming an academy - schools that are publicly funded, but run independently of Local Authorities.

Martin Powell-Davies, NUT national executive

Under pressure from Freedom of Information requests, the DFE has been forced to publish the list of schools that have responded so far.

While some of the 1,500 or so schools listed are complaining that they simply visited the website to see what Gove had to say, many are definitely pursuing Academy status.

Around 800 of the schools have been given an 'outstanding' grade by the schools' inspectorate Ofsted. According to Gove, this entitles them to be fast-tracked out of their local authorities in a matter of just months.

Even if only a few hundred of these schools become academies, this will already be a significant increase on the 200 or so previously set up under New Labour.

Gove hopes that a 'domino effect' will see other schools jumping aboard to bring about a complete break-up of local authority schooling. It would create a privatised, selective system where cash-starved councils would be left to support the 'sink schools' which would include children with the greatest needs.

It would also be used to rip apart national and local agreements on pay and conditions that have been won by school staff.

It is an urgent task for local anti-academy campaigns to alert parents and staff at the wannabe academy schools - but also to warn all schools in every local authority of the disastrous implications of these changes.

It now seems unlikely that the government will get the Academies Bill through parliament before the summer holidays. However, that is no reason to sit back. Instead we must make the most out of any temporary delay and step up the campaign.

No consultation

Cardiff parents beat council cuts in 2006, photo Socialist Party Wales

Cardiff parents beat council cuts in 2006, photo Socialist Party Wales

Some of the listed schools may not have strong trade union groups. Therefore campaigners opposed to academies need to be at school gates leafleting parents, students and staff. We have to explain that these plans are part of this government's agenda to privatise and cut public services and must be opposed.

Scandalously, the Academies Bill seeks to remove any element of public consultation and leaves the decision about becoming an academy entirely in the hands of each school's governing body.

Staff and parents must demand, at the very least, that governors organise a proper consultation of the local community instead of rushing into a quick decision as Gove hopes. Campaigns must explain that schools belong to the community and governors have no right to give them away.

Each local campaign must be just part of a bold national campaign to defend comprehensive state education from the joint threats of cuts and privatisation. Public sector unions must urgently set a date for a joint national demonstration in the autumn as a preparation for united strike action to defend public services.

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In The Socialist 30 June 2010:

Only one choice... Fight back!

War and occupation

Western strategy on Afghanistan in tatters

Socialist Party editorial

From stimulus to austerity at dizzying speed

No Job Cuts

Academies: Fight the Tories' offensive on state education

Opposing the slash and burn budget

Spending cuts increase deaths

'Get on your bike'

Fast news

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison general secretary election: Prentis vote falls despite Con-Dem attacks

Tube workers ballot for action

Thousands of jobcentre workers threatened with dole

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party youth and students

United for Education day of action 21 June

Students say no to rip-off graduation ceremony

No to cuts in EMA!

National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network conference: An urgent call for united working class action

International socialist news and analysis

France, Italy: Workers struggle against savage austerity cuts

Australia: Gillard replaces Rudd but Labour's right wing policies remain

Socialist Party review

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