Education Jul 21 2010

Not exactly a ‘schools revolution’ Mr Gove!

By Alasdair Smith 3 comments

Today the Anti Academies Alliance publishes for the first time the list of schools seeking academy status by September 2010. We believe that there are around 24 schools that have passed governing body resolutions and a further 11 who may be starting the process of transferring staff to the new employer without passing a resolution.

Is this  Gove’s vanguard? He claims these schools will lead us to a new world of parental choice and rising standards – especially for poor, working class children.  It seems as though many schools are taking a cautious approach and funny how most of those getting ready to ‘opt out’ appear to be grammar schools. I’ll bet that almost all the rest have below average free school meals.

Many people have warned in recent weeks that this is the new ‘zeitgeist’. Some head teachers and governors have told me that if they don’t jump on board the ship now it will leave without them. Others have warned that there will be a ‘domino’ or ‘snowball’ effect’ with school after school opting out.

Well maybe, but events this week have shown that something else is happening in our school communities. I am the National Secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance, a campaign group set up to oppose New Labour’s academy programme. In recent weeks, I have travelled the length and breadth of England speaking at meetings of people concerned about Gove’s academies.

Gove suggests that there is a wave of enthusiasm for his academies and free schools, but there is also a wave of revulsion and anxiety. At the Lobby of Parliament called by the education union NASUWT on Monday, to campaign against cuts to Building Schools for the Future, it was clear that many felt the Academies Bill, which was receiving its second reading in the House of Commons at the same time, is equally resented, not least because it is poorly drafted and being rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny.

To put it brutally, this Bill is an enabling act for the dissolution of state education as we know it. Barring miracles – or serious resistance from Her Majesty Opposition and renegade Lib Dems – it will get Royal Assent on 27th July.  The scale of Gove’s recklessness is, however, matched by the breath of the coalition of education stakeholders ranged against him. School communities up and down the country are waking up to the fact that we need actively to oppose academies and free schools.

As the lobby of parliament showed, there were many governors who support their local school. There are many head teachers with a commitment not only to their own school but to the wider community. There are parents, staff and pupils prepared to protest in defence of their schools. And there are  local and national politicians articulating the case for a properly funded, fair and comprehensive education system.

So I have a question for every head or governor thinking about academy status: Whose side are you on: The ConDem coalition of cuts, elitism and privatisation? Or the broad community of education stakeholders demanding a good local school for every child?  Think about it over the summer holidays. But remember there’s an Anti Academies Alliance campaign springing up near you.  If you would like help in campaigning against academies, please contact us on or visit our website

3 Responses to “Not exactly a ‘schools revolution’ Mr Gove!”

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  2. Pete Jackson says:

    Poor Mr Gove.
    Having made such a balls up of the BSF cancellation announcement he must now be petrified of releasing the list of schools that want to become Academies in case he gets it wrong and finds himself on the front pages again. That and being too scared to release it before the end of term because of the pressure the schools will come under.
    We got a call in the Anti Academies Alliance office today from a head teacher who's school had found its way onto our list. He was very determined that there had not been, nor would there be, a vote to become an Academy at his school.
    Naturally I apologised and promised to amend the list. We then had a great conversation about Tory education policy, and the threat it posed to our education system. He had already received a call from the NUT and a letter from UNISON by the time he called.
    Over 20,000 schools in England, just 1,900 of the expressing an interest in becoming an Academy, and about 35 trying to do it in September. Poor Mr Gove.

  3. Mark says:

    Diversity and choice which epitomises New Labour's failing Academy programme, does not produce excellence. It creates misery, competition, fragmentation of community and inequality in every community where one resides. Every Governing body should boycott the Government untill all academies are placed back under local control. David Miliband was central to this policy he must change the page and reverse this Blairite policy.

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