Education International
Education International

UK: education unions oppose Government’s forced academy programme

published 10 January 2012 updated 13 January 2012

EI’s UK affiliates, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), have deplored the fact that the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is pushing ahead with plans to have schools taken over by outside sponsors and removed from the control of the schools communities and local authorities.

NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower, said: “The forced academy programme is about bullying schools into academy status against the wishes of school communities and their local authorities who are best placed to judge what support any particular school may need, not an external sponsor with an eye to the future profits to be made out of the Government's programme of privatising England's schools.”

Blower went on to say: “The Education Secretary's assertion that the opponents of the Government's forced academy programme are ‘happy with failure’ is an insult to all the hard-working and dedicated teachers, school leaders, support staff and governors in our schools.”

She stated: “There is no consensus among schools, local authorities or communities that Free Schools or academies are the way forward for education. Michael Gove needs to accept this and end his heavy handed, dictatorial and bullying approach to education.”

NASUWT General Secretary, Chris Keates, also pointed out that: “The Education Secretary consistently focuses on promoting his academy programme.”

She declared: “Despite the spin he puts on the figures, the fact is that only just over 1,500 schools out of the country's 23,000 are academies. There is not one shred of evidence, however much he seeks to manipulate it, that Michael Gove's academy programme raises standards.”

Keates further noted: “As it is clear that Michael Gove now considers himself to be the Secretary of State for academies and free schools, rather than the Secretary of State for Education, questions need to be raised about who exactly is promoting the interests of the other 22,000 schools and the children and young people who attend them.”

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, added: “To guarantee quality public education, UK authorities must listen to local elected representatives before seeking to implement the academy programme. EI urges the Education Secretary to engage in open and transparent dialogue with education unions and communities.”