I attended an NUT meeting recently. It was all about academies. The guest speaker was Alasdair Smith. He represented the Anti Academies Alliance.

Here’s the minutes from the meeting. Alasdair was kind enough to check it and amend where necessary.

Some information about academies

  • The previous government wanted to use them to turn around failing schools.
  • The new coalition wants outstanding schools to convert – dangers of social segregation.
  • This is about privatisation and deregulation.
  • Government have admitted aim is to break up system of national pay & conditions.
  • Schools & head teachers promising extra money are exaggerating the money available.
  • The AAA is an alliance of parents, teachers, governors and all the education unions (ATL, NASUWT, NUT GMB, UNISON, UNITE) and the TUC opposed to academies & privatisation.

Dangers

  • There is NO formal or legal requirement for governors, staff, parents or children to be consulted before taking steps to become an academy.
  • The breakup of the National Pay and Conditions for teachers.
  • The proposal of a National Pay and Conditions for support staff has already been abandoned. They will bear the brunt of schools becoming academies!
  • Maternity, sick leave & other rights may well be changed.
  • Once you convert, there’s no turning back.
  • Staying with the Local Authority has advantages: the Local Authority steps in if the school burns down, bulk buys services to achieve economies of scale, provides many services which we are not necessarily aware of.
  • If we opt out of this we’ll need to buy these services back from them or source them from private providers elsewhere.
  • Academies standing alone may not be able to achieve economies of scale so they will need to join other academies and form a chain. This will create pseudo local authorities.
  • Failing academies can’t go back to being a local authority school. It’ll just get taken over by another academy.
  • Some liabilities which academies will need to foot the bill for are still unknown e.g., the pensions of support staff.

The logic

  • Heads claim that they want to protect staff against cuts. Thus becoming an academy is the way forward! Protecting staff means protecting national pay & conditions. Becoming an academy wont achieve that.
  • Currently schools get funding from the Schools Authority Grant. Education Psychologists, SEN, EMAS etc. are funded from the LACSEG budget. These services are currently provided to schools according to their needs and it is shared amongst schools in the borough.
  • Becoming an academy means that the academy will SECURE an amount from the LACSEG based on proportion of pupils, as opposed to, need.
  • Money available to others schools for these services will be cut.
  • Also, the Government have said they will introduce a national funding formula next year so academies will only receive this extra money as a one off.
  • If academy status truly guaranteed success, it would be moral and professional to consider it. The truth is that some academies do fail. The business of schools is to educate but there’s no evidence that academies improves standards at a faster rate than equivalent schools in the maintained sector. So why become an academy?

Questions from the floor

1. Will there be any continuity of service?

An academy will use TUPE to ensure that remaining staff can continue their terms of service.

New staff will have different terms of service.

However, if the head decides to restructure the staff by creating new posts, previous staff, as well as, newer members of the school will need to apply for their position. Thus the TUPE arrangements will be void!

2. Are pensions going to be honoured?

Yes!

However, if one builds up 28 years of ‘years of service’ in one school and then moves to an academy in which they work only 5 years; only the 5 years may be honoured for things such as redundancy severance pay.

3. Could we be paid more if we work for an academy?

Yes, in rare cases! Some academies are recruiting and paying over the odds for members of some staff. The national picture is that the head teacher’s wages increase but the wages of teachers doesn’t change. The national picture also shows that the wages of support staff goes down.

4. How long would an academy last?

Many academies are drawing up leases of 125 years. 7 years notice has to be given to terminate an academy contract.

5. What happens to parental rights?

If a parent is unhappy with a school under local authority provision; they can go and complain to the local authority.

If a parent of a child attending an academy is unhappy with the school; they have to complain to the Secretary of State! This is less likely to happen.

6. Who runs an academy?

The academy will have a few governors who form a business which creates a trust. They then select and appoint the other governors.

7. Can you exclude children in an academy?

The statistics show that academies exclude double the national rate, when compared with schools in a local authority.

8. Do we have statistics about academies?

There are 23000 schools.

407 are academies. 136 of those a new ‘Gove’ academies.

9. How might our rights as teachers be affected?

There are some ‘horror’ stories: staff expected to work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. , come in to school to work for 2 weeks during the summer holidays, work in school on weekends etc.

Some have changed performance management drastically. Others have introduced harsh forms of competency procedures.

10. What will we lose?

Local authorities rightly challenge and support schools. They do not control them.

Who will ensure this for academies? There is no system of local accountability for academies. They are in effect ‘government’ schools as their legal status is based on a contract (funding agreement) between the school academy trust and the Secretary of State.

11. Why are some local authorities telling schools to become academies?

The government is ‘top slicing’ a chunk of funding from all local authorities so that they can give it to schools that convert to an academy. If NO schools opt out, they’re going to take the money anyway! Thus some local authorities are telling schools to become academies as the funding will be lost any way. IS IT A CONSPIRACY?

12. Who will provide services if local authorities can’t?

Many posts of consultants & advisors etc. in local authorities are being scrapped. The very same consultants are setting up private companies and are waiting to offer their services to the up and coming academies!

13. How does the Union fit into academies?

Some academies won’t recognise Union rights for the staff. Most will. Staff will need to continue to be members of a union.

14. What are the cons of becoming an academy?

Once you work in an academy you are at risk of being isolated. You haven’t got other schools to support you in fighting for national pay & conditions or over local issues.

If there’s national uproar against, for example, proposed changes to the Pay and Conditions document; you won’t benefit from it because academies don’t have to uphold the Pay and Conditions document.

Extra information

  • Make sure you find out what is going on in your school. As a Union Rep you can ask for speaking and listening rights at Governors meetings. Why not ask if you can speak about academies and make sure they know why it’s not a good idea?
  • Invite Anti Academies Alliance speaker to address the staff and/or governors.
  • Tell the support staff in your school. They WILL be affected and may even bear the brunt of this movement towards academy status!
  • Write to your MP – http://www.writetothem.com/write to your local authority. Tell them that they were democratically elected and they mustn’t wash their hands with education. They should keep their role and fight this movement which WON’T benefit our children, parents or staff. The Lib Dem conference policy is against academies!

Summary

Serious danger of privatisation & deregulation, ultimately reducing the pay and conditions of staff.

It appears to be part of a strategy, not to raise standards, but to cut costs (due to the financial crisis we are in).

Do you want to let this happen or will you fight it? You need to act now. Pass resolutions to demand that your union ballots for industrial immediately. Do not delay

Contact the AAA for further help & advice: www.antiacademies.org.uk or email [email protected]

Here’s some extra information in the form of a poster: –

Academies and funding

Academies and pay and conditions

The pros of Local Authorities

Related Posts with Thumbnails

12 Comments

Anon · March 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

This was a very interesting article thankyou, my head wants us to join an accademy and is being very short with the truth and implications to staff i will share this information.

SALLY WILLIAMS · July 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I dont no if anyone can advice me , i have a 10 year old daughter who will be attending a academy school. I have concerns, i have read articles regarding money and teachers rights, but what about education for my daughter will it improve or become inadequate.

Quite simple , this is my concern as a parent.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

Mrs S A Williams

    Heena Modi · July 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I think it’s great that you’re trying to seek advice, rather than, accepting changes quietly.
    If you contact the Anti Academies Alliance using this link, they have a great booklet which explains what academy status means for parents of children in an Acedemy.

    Good luck 🙂

Mr Paul Slaughter · October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I read the article with great interest.

My daughter’s school has only recently informed me of becoming an academy. They intend to change by January 2012. This is a bit of a shock as there seems to have been no consultation.

But, as my research developed, I become more confused as to whether it is a good idea or not. By new worry (based on your article) is that my parental rights diminish to non-existence if the school fails to improve its current low standards.

Can you direct me to somewone or somewhere, so that I can get some definitive advice?

Are there any procedures to halt the school in becoming an academy, until it has properly consulted all the parents and considered their wishes?

Kind regards

Mr Paul Slaughter
Parent

    Heena Modi · October 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Thank you for you comments and honesty.
    It might be worth writing to your MP. A great tool to email them is http://www.writetothem.com.
    Also ask the Anti Academies Alliance. They produced a booklet to explain the pros and cons to parents like yourself who weren’t clear http://antiacademies.org.uk/
    Do let me know how you get on 🙂

Heena · January 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Have a look at this more recent post called “Academy Status – How, why and what does it mean for us?”
http://www.heenamodi.com/2011/11/29/academy-status-how-why-and-what-does-it-mean-for-us/
It may shed more light on the current situation and what might happen in the near future.

Verisa · June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Hi I was a student that attended a regular public high school in Hartford CT (Hartford Public High. My 1st and 2nd year there were without academies then when i returned my 3rd year they have put the academies in and i went to the law and governement academy. I want to tell you by my experience that it is the best change they have ever made in public school, because i got to experience what i wanted to do in the future and what the possabilities were after you graduated. Another great thing about the academies is that if you dont like what you are doing in the academy you have selected next year you can change it and experience another one so you can put your mind in what you want to go to college for.

    Jane · September 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I am not sure which Hartford High you are talking about. Since you refer to public school, it sounds as though you are referring to a US school. Hartford High School in the UK is a CofE school and, as such, could make any of the changes you talk about without becoming an academy. In the England, an academy is one which is independent of local authority support and oversight.

Wendy · September 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

My children’s school became an academy towards the end of last term (before summer holiday). i have noticed a few changes since, and to be honest i am not sure we as parents like it. firstly, my daughter who has just gone into year 11 took some GCSEs at the end of year 10, she got a C in English, based on this the school have told her year that because they have done this GCSE they will no longer do English, but will start a new GCSE of media (an option she didn’t choose). i am baffled that they did not consult parents! and i have tried speaking to the head of English about this and was told that she could do revision lessons for English and maybe do the GCSE English again… obviously my daughter doesn’t want to be the odd young person out in her year and now wants to do media, and also the teachers intimated to her that her grade of C is the best she will do. Media GCSE will not help my daughter in her chosen career of becoming a nurse!! also my son who has just gone into year 8 have been told they will be choosing their options at the end of this year a whole year earlier? how can they say 12/13 year olds have any idea what they will want to do when they leave education? he keeps changing his mind… currently he wants to be a photographer (only because his dad has a new all singing all dancing camera, i am sure this will change again). The other issue is that the head has changed all the uniform (new style PE kit, new colour blazer, new badge etc), we have only just bought my sons uniform (as he only started last year), so don’t really want to buy all new stuff. the school have also told the children they are not allowed to use any other school bag apart from black and will get a lunch time detention if the bags are not black. now i can understand that it will make the children/school smart, but they are obviously concentrating on minor things instead of the children’s education. … My question is can they do this to the curriculum and decide on what GCSE’s/lessons/when they choose their option, i think the children have a lot of pressure put on them as it is without all this upset.

    Heena Modi · September 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for sharing Wendy
    I’m sure it will help others who are getting to grips with these changes 🙂

Bernie · November 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

i have a child who has just started primary school and i went to a meeting at his school last week because i have been informed with the rest of the parents that the goverment want it to become an academy. At first i did’nt understand all the facts untill i have just read all the infomation on this page and now it has become clearer of course as a concerned parent i will join the rest of the parents and fight it all the way 🙂

    Heena Modi · November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I’m glad it has helped and that you are inspired to do something about it.
    Keep us posted : )

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