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Labour to campaign against plans to force every school to become an academy

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Calderdale Labour councillors are joining forces with Halifax MP Holly Lynch to launch a campaign against the Government's plans to force every school to become an Academy.

Under the plans - announced by Conservative chancellor George Osborne in the budget - every school will have to become an academy by 2022, usually as part of a so-called Multi Academy Trust. Parents, staff and the community will not have any say.

Now Labour's education spokesperson Cllr Megan Swift has tabled a motion for the next full Council meeting condemning the plans. Together with Halifax MP Holly Lynch, is launching a petition inviting local people to oppose them.

Cllr Megan Swift said, "Presently, about three quarters of the schools in Calderdale are community schools or church schools. A great many of them have made a conscious decision that they do not want to pursue academy status.

"The Government now says that every school will be forced to become an academy by 2022. And they have made it clear that parents, teachers and the local community will have no right to a say. They are even planning to remove the requirement for academy schools to have parent representatives on their governing bodies.

"There's no evidence that this will do anything to benefit our children – it's purely about dogma."

Holly Lynch MP added, "Teachers tell me that our schools are already under financial pressures – and they are struggling to cope with continued top-down changes to testing and the curriculum. The last thing the Government should be doing is spending millions of pounds on an unnecessary and unwanted reorganisation which will do nothing to raise standards.

"Labour believe that the focus needs to be firmly on the things that make a difference – good teachers, good leadership, and a system that works together to give schools good support. That's where the resources need to go – not on top-down changes that will make schools accountable only to the Secretary of State and Whitehall civil servants."

Cllr Megan Swift's motion reads:

This Council believes that what our local schools need is good teachers and good leadership in a well-supported system. The Government's costly plans to force all schools to become academies by 2022 is another top-down reorganisation that will not help young people in Calderdale get the education they need.

We believe that parents and local communities should always have a say in the future of local schools, and no school should be forced to become an academy by the Government.

We urge the Government to think again and drop these plans.

The petition may be accessed here.