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The News Line: News Return all academies to council control!
Teachers, parents and schoolchildren earlier in the year protesting at cuts to Brent schools – teachers at The Village School in Kingsbury, Brent, are taking strike action against forced academisation
‘SCHOOLS must be returned to their local authority family of schools,’ Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said, responding to a report which shows the disaster which ensues when Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) collapse, shutting multiple schools, leaving teachers and pupils high and dry.


Returning schools to local council control ‘is the only way in which democratic oversight and accountability of schools can be secured,’ Courtney continued. He added: ‘The government should hang its head in shame. To claim that Multi Academy Trusts are held accountable at all levels and that the Department holds trusts to account and intervenes swiftly when problems arise is a grotesque parody of the real situation.

‘The parents of children in the 21 schools in the Wakefield City Academy Trust know only too well that there was no accountability within that academy trust and that the Regional Schools Commissioners (RSC) missed every warning sign that things were going wrong. Staff at Whitehaven Academy, run by the Bright Tribe academy trust, wrote an open letter to their MP, the Regional School Commissioner and the Prime Minister a year ago pleading for the school to be removed from the Trust.

‘Yet neither the RSC, nor any of her team, have visited the school in the last year. In a disgraceful incident, the Conservative MP Trudy Harrison was “frogmarched” off the premises when she visited the school at the request of her local constituents to see for herself the poor state of the school buildings.

‘The reality is that there is no accountability within the academy system. Unaccountable trustees make decisions about the running of schools with no accountability to parents or communities. RSCs appear clueless about what is happening in MATs in their region, and even when problems are pointed out to them they are unwilling to act.’

Meanwhile, a school in Brent has called a strike against plans to attempt to force it to become an academy. Staff at The Village School in Kingsbury, Brent have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action against the proposal to turn the school into an academy, part of a MAT. John Roche, NEU ATL section Brent Secretary, said, ‘The school passed its last Ofsted with an “Outstanding” judgement in all categories in October 2016 so clearly there is no educational reason to seek to become an academy.

‘Furthermore, Brent Local Authority has put millions of pounds into this special school and now a state asset, our asset, is proposed to be privatised. Staff ask why is a Labour Authority not up in arms at this attempt to foist a Tory policy on one of their schools?’

Lesley Gouldbourne, NEU NUT section Brent Secretary, alleged: ‘The government’s academy programme has proved a corrupt shambles that has done nothing to improve education and lacks accountability, in particular with finances.

‘The Wakefield City Academy Trust (WCAT) has collapsed leaving 21 schools in chaos affecting 8,500 children. Joining a MAT means all the school’s assets and any surpluses are handed over. A small group of unaccountable, unelected trustees control the finances. I am also finding it hard to understand why a Labour Council is not opposing the privatisation of this jewel in Brent’s crown, especially at a time when it is taking other services back in-house. Cllr Butt has not replied to my email about this.’

Hank Roberts, NEU ATL section London Executive said: ‘The NEU believes that the Labour Council leadership is not following the democratically established overwhelming majority of Brent Labour Party members that oppose the loss of more Council local authority-controlled schools to be handed over to be privately run by Trusts.

‘This is clear from the resolutions passed unanimously at Brent LP meetings and the London Region of the LP. Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to the privatisation of state education has been made clear. Instead, it appears that they are doing the bidding of senior paid Council employees with an agenda.’
 
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