High Court blocks Academy

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Parents have been battling against attempts to foist academies on schools for the past two years. Picture shows a Haringey march against forced academies in January 2012
Parents have been battling against attempts to foist academies on schools for the past two years. Picture shows a Haringey march against forced academies in January 2012

FOR the first time, the High Court has blocked an attempt to force a comprehensive school to become an academy.

Teachers union NASUWT said yesterday that the decision reflects the growing anger amongst parents, teachers and students at the Tory coalition government’s ‘agenda to privatise and marketise our public education system’.

The court decision is a victory. as Warren Comprehensive School in Barking, East London, will now not be turned into an academy and will remain under public ownership.

It comes just days after teachers at Copland school in Wembley have taken their 5th day of strike action against being turned into an academy.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT said: ‘In view of the track record of the Coalition government in riding roughshod over the wishes of local people, it is surprising that this is only the first time the courts have intervened to prevent a school being taken out of public ownership.

‘This judgement is a reflection of the deep and growing concern among parents and the wider public about the use by the Coalition of forced academisation to drive through its agenda to privatise and marketise our public education system.

‘For too long this Coalition has sought to silence the voices of local communities by not only refusing to engage with them in meaningful consultation on the future of their local schools, but also by publicly insulting them for seeking to oppose academisation.

‘The NASUWT has raised repeatedly concerns about the lack of opportunity for meaningful consultation with stakeholders.

‘It remains to be seen whether this court ruling gives this arrogant and autocratic government pause for thought.’

Christine Blower, the NUT leader, said: ‘Once again, the Secretary of State has been shown to be rushing through academy conversion with indecent haste and a total lack of regard for the local community, not least parents.

‘The judge agrees that “this decision should never have been made” in the case of Warren School, and that Michael Gove failed to make any arguments against the council’s alternative proposal when it was put to him.

‘It is a sorry state of affairs where a Secretary of State has to be forced to delay his actions in order to enter into meaningful consultation.  Michael Gove must now demonstrate that he will pay due attention to the outcome of this consultation.’

Meanwhile, the lecturers union UCU said that the ‘debate over funding cuts resembles haggling for position in a gallows queue’.

UCU said yesterday: ‘Further and higher education sectors need to work much more effectively together to promote the benefits of education, rather than just lobbying for certain pet projects to avoid funding cuts, valuable though that is.’

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘With government cuts likely to cause damage to colleges and universities wherever they come, it is time we stood up for education as a whole.’