Greens have seized on the appointment of Justine Greening as the new Secretary of State for Education as an opportunity for the Government to go back to the drawing board with its plans to turn all schools into academies.
Green councillors in Brighton and Hove have consistently campaigned against removing schools from local authority control, pointing to the success of school improvement initiatives in schools managed by the Council. Greens recently joined parents, teachers, unions and young people in the Hands Off Our Schools campaign to oppose the forced academisation of schools.
Green Councillor Alex Phillips will be presenting a motion to a Council meeting on Thursday, where she will ask the Council to take steps to prevent the conversion of local authority schools to academies. The request follows a recent decision by the Labour-led council to create a limited company to manage school partnerships, which campaigners fear could be the first stage of transferring all Brighton and Hove schools to a Multi-Academy Trust.
Despite a limited row-back from previous education secretary Nicky Morgan, the Government stated in May that it was still committed to converting all schools into academies. As yet, the new Education Secretary has yet to set out her policy priorities for the country’s schools.
Green councillor Alex Phillips, spokesperson for the Greens on children and young people said:
“Greens in Brighton and Hove have historically opposed removing local schools from council control, which amounts to an unnecessary privatisation of our children’s education. In administration we supported parents, teachers and young people and successfully opposed the conversion of Hove Park School into an academy in 2014.
“There is simply no objective evidence base to support converting local authority schools into academies. Yet despite this, successive governments have zealously pursued an increase in academy schools since the policy was introduced by Labour in 2002.
“In Brighton & Hove, we have well-managed local authority schools supported by strong partnerships between the council, schools, teachers and parents which drive ongoing improvements in performance. Our schools do well and are continually striving to narrow the achievement gap between children of different backgrounds.
“Converting local authority schools to academies could lead to poorer working conditions for teachers, a less diverse curriculum and the use of unqualified teachers to teach our children”.