Friday 1 July 2011

Heads urged to support a good school for every child

The Anti Academies Alliance has sent this letter to every primary headteacher:

Dear Headteacher,

We know it has been another busy year in schools. Your dedication and hard work means the vast majority of our children continue to thrive.

We are writing to you because we know many of you are worried about the pressure to become an Academy.

There are good reasons to be concerned. Most Heads and Governors didn’t go into education expecting to be running a small business, yet that is what will be asked of you. And if the government have their way, education will become a ‘market’ in which schools have to compete. Academy conversion is yet another ‘top-down’, politically motivated reform.

We all know that the key to school improvement lies in improving the quality of teaching and learning. As the McKinsey Report (2007) put it

              “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”. 

There is nothing in academy status that guarantees better teaching and learning. Some academies have done very well. Others have not.

The offer of extra money is disingenuous at a time when over 1000 jobs are disappearing from education each week. For every school converting, others lose out. And at a time of national austerity, it is sickening to think that each of the 831 schools already given the go-ahead to convert is given £25,000 for legal and organisational costs. That’s over £20 million wasted on structural reform. How much one to one tuition could that have provided?

There are also increasing concerns about the process of conversion itself. In many cases this has been done without fair and proper consultation. This is not headteachers’ fault. The Academies Act is a travesty. However, the poor consultation process is threatening to divide the different stakeholders in education. Staff, parents and children often feel left out of the decision making process. The absence of argument against conversion means that it is often one sided. There are some cases where legal challenges are being pursued.

We believe that every school considering conversion should have a full, open and balanced debate. Unsurprisingly we are happy to provide speakers to put the case against! We would prefer to do this alongside someone putting the argument for. It is much healthier to have the debate.

We would also like to know if you are opposed to becoming an Academy. A recent ACSL survey suggested 10% were for, 20% were opposed and 70% of heads were undecided. Yet Department of Education press releases make it seem like every school wants to be an Academy. Please let us know your views.

We wish your school the very best for the future, and hope that you will continue to stand up for an education system that delivers a good local school for every child.

Yours Sincerely

Alasdair Smith
Anti Academies Alliance National Secretary

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