Monday 2 May 2016

Will Brent Council make a stand on forced academisation?

On March 26th the statement below was sent to Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council and  Cllr Ruth Moher, Lead Cabinet member for Children and Families. I have had no response although other signatories may have done. 

 Statement by Chairs of Governors of Brent Primary Schools

We the under-signed are opposed to Government proposals to force all LA primary schools to convert to academy status because:

There is no evidence that this would improve the quality of teaching and learning in our school
It would remove local democratic accountability of schools through the local authority

It would further destabilise schools already affected by new curriculum and assessment demands and problems of recruitment and retention

The statement was also sent to our three local MPs, Dawn Butler, Tulip Siddiq and Barry Gardiner.

Dawn Butler wrote to Cllr Butt on March 29th: 

Dear Cllr Butt, 
I am writing to you in regards to my concerns about the Government’s proposals, announced in the Budget, to reform England’s schools system by instituting the forced academisation of all schools by 2020. 

The Government are claiming that the academies programme will transform education by helping to turn around struggling schools while providing the freedom for successful schools to build on their achievements even further. 

In practice, however, it seems that there is little substantive evidence to show that turning a school into an academy will automatically raise standards. Ofsted chair, Sir Michael Wilshaw recently criticised seven sizeable academy chains for failing to improve the results of too many pupils in their schools. 

I am concerned forced academisation will bypass consultation amongst parents, schools and communities particularly in local areas like Brent where vital ground-level knowledge is needed.
The Tories obsession with changing the school structure will do nothing to tackle the real problems facing our education system. A flawed teacher recruitment programme and retention crisis added to the widening attainment gap between poor pupils and their peers. Furthermore, I believe forced academisation will cause utter chaos for successful local schools, such as Wykeham Primary, who prove the very point that you do not need to be an academy to be a successful school. 

I want us in Brent to lead a fight back and bring schools back in to local authority control. I will fight the government and ask for money to make this happen. It is important that our schools work together.

Today I have also received letters from the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP confirming that two further Brent schools, Oakington Manor Primary and Furness Primary, will be converted into academies, please see enclosed a copy of the letters. I hope you will share my concerns of this continued assault towards taking Brent schools out of Brent control.
Academies do not automatically equate to good schools.

I hope we can discuss this matter further, and I look forward to your reply. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dawn Butler MP
 Tulip Siddiq wrote back:

Many thanks for passing the below email to me.
Needless to say, I entirely agree with the three bullet points and I’ll keep you updated on Parliamentary work I do on this.
 As yet Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North has not replied.

Since then of course there has been a national petition against the forced academisation plans, statements of opposition from many councils, including Conservative shire councils and this weekend the unprecedented threat of industrial action by the National Association of Headteachers.

The Labour Group on the Local Government Association has published the following model resolution for councils that may help Brent coucnil make a stand:

Model Motion Opposing Forced Academisation
This council meeting notes with great concern the proposal in the recently published education White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, which will force all schools to become academies, irrespective of each school's wishes.

This council meeting notes that the White Paper’s proposals –
-       would remove the requirement for schools to elect parent governors.

-       would require the transfer of land and buildings of such schools to central ownership by the Secretary of State.

-       do not include any say for parents and local communities over the future status of local schools.

-       would require over 17,000 schools to conduct costly and lengthy conversion exercises at an estimated national cost of over £1billion.


This council meeting further notes – 

-       over 80 per cent of maintained schools have been rated good or excellent by Ofsted, while three times as many councils perform above the national average in terms of progress made by students than the largest academy chains.

-       the invaluable role of parent governors and the local authority in acting as ‘critical friends’ to both support and hold to account head teachers and schools.
-       the comments of The National Association of Head Teachers that plans to force every school to become an academy presented “a particularly high risk to the future viability and identity of small, rural, schools.”

This council meeting believes – 

-       no single system of school organisation has a monopoly on success, and that a one size fits all model as proposed by the White Paper would not deliver the improvement in school standards and outcomes that this council wishes to see. 

This council meeting therefore resolves to – 

-       ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Education expressing the concerns of the council as set out in this motion about the proposals to force all schools to become academies, asking her to demonstrate how the proposals will improve educational outcomes in [NAME OF TOWN].

-       ask the Leader of the Council to write to our local MPs expressing the council’s concerns and to seek their views on the proposal. 

-       engage with head teachers, school governors, professional representatives, parents, and the wider local community to raise awareness of the Government’s proposals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having (by his actions/inaction) himself forced some Brent schools into academisation already,
Butt can hardly object to the government forcing other schools to do the same thing. The inherent contradiction would mean he'd never sleep soundly in his bed again. Possibly.

Never mind, after Thursday, if the rumours are correct, he'll be getting ready to take up his new post as Sadiq Khan's Minister for Photo Ops and Selfies.