Thursday, 31 March 2011

'Democracy key to academy decisions' say Brent teaching unions

Save Our Schools from Jason N. Parkinson on Vimeo.

The three main teaching unions (NUT, ATL and NASUWT) have written to headteachers and governors in Brent putting forward their negotiating position on conversion to academies. The letter follows Claremont High School's decision to convert to an academy from April 1st despite 70% of staff voting against the proposal.

The unions say they are opposed to academies because they are a 'large step on the way to privatisation of the management of state education',  will undermine hard-fought for national pay and conditions and will 'undermine the local family of schools and the role of the local authority'.

In a key passage they state:
Our position is one of democracy. It is that, before any application is made for Academy Conversion, there is full debate, with arguments from both sides, ending in a ballot of all staff on the question, 'Do you support ________ school becoming an Academy?'
The unions point out that Governors will want to ascertain the views of staff before any application and that this is the 'best. most democratic, clearest and most unequivocal way of doing so'.  They claim that consultation is often conducted in a way that distorts or glosses over the views of consultees so propose a secret, independently overseen ballot. They stress that it is important that parents know the views of staff before forming their own views on any proposals. The unions say that they will be looking at ensuring 'all legal avenues are explored and that parents are properly informed and consulted'.

The unions conclude:
We know that as Governors you will feel that you have to take tough and hard-headed decisions. As part of the largest volunteer workforce in the country you are also custodians of the system as a whole and we ask you to consider both the short-term and the long-term consequences of Academy conversion.
The letter comes at a time when it is believed that many Brent secondary schools are reviewing their position following Claremont's decision and seven Harrow Schools are consulting on becoming academies.

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