Education International
Education International

UK: Trade unions react to Academies Commission Report

published 14 January 2013 updated 15 January 2013

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), two EI affiliates in the UK, have reacted to ‘Unleashing Greatness: Getting the best from an academised system’, a report released on 10 December by the Academies Commission.

The Academies Commission is an organisation examining the implications of the ‘mass academisation’ of state schools and the impact this might have on educational outcomes.

NASUWT: Risks to fairness and equity

“Much of the analysis and recommendations in this report reflect the Union’s long-standing concerns about the academies programme,” said NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates. “The Academies Commission has rightly recognised the failure of the Government to establish any relationship whatsoever between its academies programme and its stated intention to raise standards of educational achievement.”

She added: “As the NASUWT has continued to make clear, there is no link between academisation and ensuring that all children and young people can make the most of their potential as learners. The Academies Commission report provides powerful confirmation of this truth.”

Keates also noted that the Commission’s report highlights the genuine risks to fairness and equity created by the Government’s headlong rush to academise the education system.

She underlined that “at the very least, this report should give Ministers reason to pause for thought, reflect upon the recklessness of their academies programme and instead work with all those with a stake in the education system to develop a fairer, more effective and genuinely accountable alternative.”

NUT: failure of academy sponsors’ system

The NUT has also responded to the report. “The Academies Commission report is a damning indictment of Michael Gove’s education policies,” acknowledged NUT General Secretary Christine Blower.

She mentioned that the report highlights the fact that the process for approving academy sponsors is deeply flawed and that some academy chains are more concerned with expanding their empires than with improving schools.

“The academies and free-school programme is ensuring that many young people from the most disadvantaged circumstances are having those disadvantages compounded. It is no surprise that academy chains are finding ways around selecting only the pupils they want. It has also been shown that free schools’ admission policies are resulting in fewer children on free schools’ meals and with Special Educational Needs being admitted.”

Blower denounced a situation “which will only get worse as the Government hands yet more schools over to unaccountable sponsors and allows more free schools to open”. It is a very worrying picture for parents, pupils, teachers and society, she stressed.

“We need to see a return to an accountable education system with a central role for local authorities which are best placed to plan and manage school-place provision and oversee fair, accountable school-admission policies,” she said.

EI: equal opportunity and access to all levels of education

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said that EI supports our UK colleagues and urges national authorities to ensure equal access to free public quality education for all.

"Inclusive education means that all students should be educated together, to the same high standards, in so far as possible in the same education institution, irrespective of their gender, faith, ethnic, cultural or economic background or physical or intellectual capacities," van Leeuwen insisted. "The educational experience of students should instil in them concepts of equality, tolerance and respect for diversity.”