A standard response of politicians of all stripes to criticism is to say that the criticism is based on data which is out of date, and that the issues referred to have been addressed. The Academies issue is no exception. Any politician these days will admit that the Academies program was a shambles and many of the sponsors were shysters, but now, they will insist, the whole act has been cleaned up. In West Sussex, for example, instead of some second-hand car salesman they have the services of an educational body with a “proven track record” and the Local Authority is itself involved in the bid.
The reality is that the educational body in question is the Woodard Corporation, which has a “proven track record” of running elitist religious schools. When a meeting of 150 parents and teachers was held to discuss the academy bid they contemptuously refused to send anybody to speak to them. They would sooner take advice from their servants than from parents or teachers.
The Local Authority may have one representative on the governing body but the unelected Woodard Corporation will have as many as it wants.
If you have concerns about your local school you can hold the local authority to account. The religious foundations are answerable only to the Almighty and the private companies are only answerable to their shareholders.
Far from being benevolent institutions aiming to help the community, the sponsors get the control of a £20million school for £2 million. They can (and do) then use this patronage to hire consultants of their choice at a fee of their choosing and to opt for educational suppliers of their choice – money no object.
Unusually, all of the educational unions are united on this issue. There is an anti-academies alliance which you can contact if an academy is proposed in your area (and it will be). Give them a ring on 07528 201 697 or email email@example.com. Their website is http://www.antiacademies.org.uk/index.php.
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This post was written by Terry Teacher