Saturday, 20 June 2015

Fightback against the Education & Adoption Bill - House of Commons Meeting on Monday

Education policy failed to become a key factor in the General Election and we are now faced with five years of intensification of the Government's version of the GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) with the eventual aim of opening up state education to profit and the subservience of education to the demands of neoliberalism and globalisation. This is embodied in the Education and Adoption Bill currebtly before Parliament.

The Green Party fought the election with policies opposing the GERM and the associated academies and free schools programme, high stakes testing, narrow curriculum, performance related pay and policing of the system by a politicised Ofsted.

The meeting at the House of Commons on Monday organised by the Anti Academies Alliance* therefore comes at an opportune time to stand back and discuss where we go from here.

Of particular concern is the future of education for children with special educational needs and disabilities as well as the 'schoolification' of the early years.

I hope as many Green Party members and supporters will attend the meeting as possible.

This is what the Anti Academies Alliance circulated ahead of the meeting:

If  You Thought the 2010 Academies Act was Bad…..

The 2015 Education and Adoption Bill, described by the Local Schools Network as signalling ‘the new authoritarian conservative Britain’ will have its second reading next week. We have grave concerns about this Bill, which includes the rapid expansion of the free schools and academies programme, and the effect it will have on our schools. Therefore, on Monday 22 June from 6.00pm, while MPs debate the Bill, we’ll be hosting an open meeting in the House of Commons  to discuss how to oppose it. Visitors will need to go through security so allow plenty of time if you’d like to join us. 
As well as Alasdair Smith AAA national secretary, speakers include Henry Stewart of the Local Schools Network, Caroline Lucas MP, Catherine West MP and Clive Lewis MP who used his maiden speech to protest at the Inspiration Trust’s takeover of Hewett School in Norwich. 

Although the Bill promises that ‘coasting’ schools will be converted to academy status, it does not define ‘coasting’.  Will it be based on Ofsted judgements, pupil data or the whim of the Secretary of State or her viceroys – the Regional Schools Commissioners?  RSCs, whose personal key performance indicators include the number of academy conversions, will be given new powers to intervene in maintained schools.  The new Act, if passed, will see governors, councillors and local communities forced to implement the academy ‘solution’ whether or not they think it’s in the best interest of their children. And what of the ‘failing’ academies and free schools?  These are handed to the DfE’s academy sponsor of choice – no doubt a chain - without public scrutiny or consultation.  The price of ‘autonomy’ seems to be even more centralised control from Whitehall.

Free Schools in Free Fall

The Secretary of State found it difficult to put her finger on the number of ‘failing’ academies but one thing she can be sure of - it’s on the rise. Just take a look at our Twitter timeline @antiacademies or our Facebook page. This week we learned that a Catholic Free School in Camborne, Cornwall which cost £4.5million for only 60 pupils, is to be taken over by another sponsor. Also in the South West, Route 39 Academy has been judged to require improvement. Opening in North Devon with less than half the promised number of students, this was the school that offered free farm park tickets to parents who signed up to support their bid. 

40% Off at Ofsted

In an ironic twist, Ofsted has abandoned its own free market experiment and brought its inspectors in-house. The profit-making giants like Serco and Tribal that inspect our schools will lose their contracts from the start of next term.  However a whopping 40% of existing inspectors failed to get the in-house jobs.  And Ofsted told the TES that an ‘initial sift’ of additional inspectors took out about 500 who lacked the relevant qualifications or leadership experience, or did not possess qualified teacher status. 

And Finally

We bid a not so fond farewell to the Independent Academies Association which is closing in the face of insolvency. The Association, whose honorary president is Lord Andrew Adonis, acknowledged that in the future our children will be educated in Multi Academy Trusts – ‘chains’ to you and me – rather than individual ‘autonomous’ academies.

* Declaration of Interest: I am a member of th National Steering Group of the Anti academies Alliance


Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

The only reference here to 'adoption' is in the name of the Bill. Yet ex-Education Secretary Michael Gove was adopted by a wealthy family at a few months old when his poorer parents could not cope.

This matter no doubt influenced Gove's life-view, while Green Party member and ex-Social Worker and ex-lone parent Jean Robertson-Molloy is one of the founder members of Movement for and Adoption Apology, which has Green Party backing.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

On the matter of provision for children with special educational needs, I believe it relevant that Skill (National Bureau for people in post-16 education) closed in April 2011 when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was less than a year old and was allegedly intent on getting disabled people away from a prospectus of lifelong 'benefits dependency'.

Skill's special Youth website has/had an interactive map. The text for the 'Hello start here' button revealed that its purpose was to "help you choose your options and choices in education, training and work and is for 11-25 year olds"

Other buttons on that map include[d] 'My support', 'Access To Fun' and 'Getting about'. Not much point in those of course, since Blair
• halved the length of jobcentre-funded training periods in year 2000 so as to double the throughput from the dole queue, and
• made an investment banker [David Freud] his 'welfare reform guru' as prelude to Freud joining the Tory front bench as life peer and Welfare Reform Minister
was there?