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Primary teachers balloted over forced academy plans

by - 8th May 2012, 12.18 BST

Teachers at 13 primary schools in Birmingham are today being balloted amid plans to move the schools out of local democratic control.

NASUWT and NUT members are balloting because they are justifiably angry that the change of employer could have a significant impact on their terms and conditions of employment.

The plans being pushed by the local authority are part of the coalition government’s ideology to privatise the education system in England. As part of the plan, Birmingham primary schools are being targeted by the Department for Education who are telling heads and governors to “jump ship” before Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, seizes control of the schools, making them directly accountable to himself, rather than the local communities they serve.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Forced academies have nothing to do with raising standards of education. There is no evidence at all to support the notion that changing the status of a school will transform the educational attainment of its pupils. The majority of the school communities in Birmingham do not support this move. The local authority needs to listen to the people who elected them.

“Primary academies are a fairly new phenomenon and there is no evidence to suggest that a change in status will automatically raise standards. What it will do is take the school further away from the local community and make it accountable only to the Secretary of State in London or a private sponsor or trust.”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: TThe Secretary of State has tried every trick in the book to persuade schools to become academies. He has sought to bribe them with offers of additional funding. He has shamelessly manipulated data about academy success, increased their freedoms and feted their headteachers.

“Despite all this he has only managed to secure just over 1,500 academies out of a total of over 22,000 schools. The Secretary of State’s latest ruse to shore up his failing academisation project is forced academies.

“Schools in Birmingham and all over the country are now facing unacceptable and unfair pressure to covert. This is no way to run an education service. This is not the way to improve educational outcomes. There is no evidence that simply converting a school into an academy raises standards.

“There is evidence, however, that academisation can result in local communities losing access to their local school; significant amounts of money being diverted from supporting pupils to fund the administration and high salaries of academy providers; and parents being disenfranchised.

“The Birmingham schools are just the latest victims of Coalition ideology. From time to time, a small minority of schools need help and support to overcome challenges and to provide the best possible learning environment for their pupils.

“The evidence is clear that with the right support, guidance and leadership structures in place, sustainable improvements in performance can be secured in these schools.”