Education and Adoption Bill 'fails to address the real problems in the education system' - ATL
The union for education professionals, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which represents 160,000 members in the UK, calls for positive changes to the Education and Adoption Bill as it goes through the House of Lords.
Parents, governors, heads, teachers and local authorities will have their voices silenced over the future of their children’s education unless there are amendments to the Education and Adoption Bill.
This is the stark message from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) who has joined forces with other education unions, governor and parent groups to seek support for changes to the bill which would otherwise allow the Secretary of State to force some schools to academise without consulting the community on how best to improve their school and without consulting on which academy sponsor might be most suitable.
As the bill continues its progress through the Lords, ATL, NUT, NAHT, Unison and the NGA are calling for amendments which would retain current requirements for local authorities, not the SoS, to issue warning notices to improve; for governors to choose the best improvement route for their schools which is not always academisation; for consultation with parents and teachers about options for improvement and, if academisation proved the best option, for consultation over which sponsor would be the best match.
Without amendment, the bill would not only strip away an important layer of democracy - even though 97% of parents say they want to be consulted on big changes in their schools
according to the PTA-UK- but would also force schools down the academy route when academies have yet to prove they boost pupil progress more than non-academy schools
according to the NfER, and when academy chains have failed to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students
according to the Sutton Trust.
Despite these issues with academy chains, the government does not require Ofsted to inspect chains, unlike the requirement to inspect local authorities. The unions are therefore also seeking an amendment to the bill to ensure chains are inspected, not least to allow communities to learn about the successes or otherwise of their potential sponsors.
The Education and Adoption Bill fails to address the real problems in the education system. Rather than forcing communities to turn their schools into academies, the unions and the NGA have asked the government to work with communities to tackle the significant issues of recruiting and retaining enough teachers and heads, providing adequate school places and maintaining sufficient funding. Unless the government pays attention to these growing challenges, all schools, academies or otherwise, will struggle to provide the education our children and young people need and deserve.
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