Teaching unions slam the chancellor’s plans to turn all schools into academies
With the news that the chancellor George Osborne will set out plans to force all schools in England to become academies by 2022, two teaching unions have strongly opposed the move as ideological, undemocratic and distracting.
Commenting on the Budget Statement, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “This is an ideological step too far and not in the interests of children or their parents. It will mean parents will have no say in the running of their child’s school or the quality of the education it provides.
“There’s no democracy in forcing the majority of primary schools, which have chosen to remain working with local authorities, to become academies against their will.”
Bousted added that the Department of Education is already unable to control budgets for academies and free schools, which see rising costs and without standards improving. “It is hard to see how the government’s plans will work when there aren’t enough high quality multi-academy trusts to cope with thousands more schools,” she said.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), the largest teachers’ union, thought the budget statement was both hollow and deceptive.
“The chancellor’s Budget Statement is a textbook exercise in political distraction and spin,” said Keates. “Whilst the chancellor seeks to captivate public attention over the government’s continuing plans for academisation, he avoids the key question of whether all schools will have enough money to make ends meet this year, next year and into the future.”
Keates added that there was no evidence to suggest that academies deliver higher standards or more qualified teachers, and that the proposals would ‘ring hollow’ in schools already struggling with finance, recruitment and retention, leaving “many people questioning what the last six years of reforms in education have been about.”
“The announcement of new funding for 25% of secondary schools to enable them to extend the length of the school day in order to deliver education in music, the arts and sport must represent an admission of the failure of the government’s education reforms over the last six years, which have seen these subjects squeezed out of the curriculum of many secondary schools.
“Too often, parents are being asked to dig deep into their pockets to cover the cost of their children’s education,” she said. “Regrettably, the chancellor’s plans will do nothing to alleviate these financial pressures on families, particularly for those pupils in schools that do not benefit from the additional funds.
“As ever with the chancellor’s Budget Statement, the devil will be in the detail.”