Green Councillors today declared they will fight “tooth and nail” against Government plans to convert all schools into academies, ahead of a public meeting to plan a city-wide campaign against the plans.
The Government announcement at the budget in March declared that all schools in the country would be required to have a plan in place by 2020 to convert to academy status by 2022. This is a significant escalation of the academy schools programme started by the Labour government in 2000, and has attracted widespread criticism from parents, teachers and young people themselves.
A public meeting will be held on Wednesday 6.30pm at Friends Meeting House, Brighton, to launch a campaign against academisation. The meeting comes shortly after the Labour council administration pledged to set up its own cooperative academies trust to keep schools in the city together. Greens have criticised Labour for capitulating to the Government agenda too easily, and have called on Labour and Conservative Councillors to join them in challenging the Government proposals.
Greens have a strong track record in opposing academies in the city, and under the Green administration Brighton and Hove was the only local authority to successfully challenge the conversion of a school into a “converter academy”.
Green Councillor Alex Phillips, spokesperson for children and young people said:
“The forced academisation of schools is deeply undemocratic, ill-considered and goes against the wishes of parents and teachers. It is simply not supported by evidence, which shows no benefits in terms of results for academies compared to local authority schools, and will likely drive up costs and bureaucracy of schools management.
“Particularly worrying are the changes we can expect to see to school curriculums under academies, which are free to set their own curriculum. This could lead to increasing variation in the quality of schools and inadequate teaching of skills and knowledge which are vital to children’s wellbeing and future success. One such example is Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) which has a crucial role in preparing young people for life outside of and after school, and this subject could now be dropped by new academy schools.
“The Labour Council has in quite typical fashion come out early to hand over the keys to Government without protest. They have already announced their cunning plan to save the city’s schools from academies by turning them into one great big academy. Truly mind-boggling. Before agreeing in full to the Government’s plans, surely they should be challenging them first?
“Greens have always consistently opposed academies and will do everything in our power to challenge the Government’s plans. We will work closely with parents, young people, schools and other organisations to develop a strong campaign to save our city’s schools, and encourage everyone to get involved”.