NO TO CITY ACADEMIES! – TUC rejects Blair ‘flagship’ policy

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Young Socialists marchers received an enthusiastic response in Birmingham last Saturday for their stand against ASBOs and Dispersal Orders
Young Socialists marchers received an enthusiastic response in Birmingham last Saturday for their stand against ASBOs and Dispersal Orders

THE TUC yesterday voted unanimously to oppose city academies.

The National Union of Teachers President Hilary Bills urged the TUC to step up a campaign against city academies.

Moving Composite Motion 13: School Education, she said: ‘Academies are about the introduction of a system that undermines local communities.’

She added: ‘The government wants 200 academies.

‘It beggars belief that this government is about to roll out a £5 billion project to take schools out of control of local authorities and place them in the hands of private sponsors.’

She warned: ‘These businessmen have their own agenda.’

Bills added: ‘This is being delivered by money that would be going to improve schools under local authority control.’

Dismissing Blair’s claim that academies are about replacing ‘failing’ schools, she said: ‘Out of the existing 14 academies, eight are under-achieving, two are low-achieving and two are in special measures.’

Seconding the composite motion, Helen Connor, of the EIS, referred to a clause on class sizes.

She said: ‘We have to have smaller class sizes to give all children the attention they deserve.’

But she stressed that to do this: ‘We need more funding.’

Kenneth Bell, of UNISON, supporting the motion, warned: ‘The government’s Building Schools For The Future programme is being used to drive forward privatisation.

‘Local authorities are being told: if you do not build academies, you do not get the investment.

‘PFI means cleaners, caretakers and schools meals staff are all under threat: 100,000 jobs are threatened.’

He concluded: ‘Local Education Partnerships are a trojan horse for privatisation. Councils are being forced down that road. Support the motion.’

Andy Ballard, of the ATL, slammed the academies programme.

He said: ‘The enormous sums of money spent on academies could be spent on improving local schools.

‘The money being wasted is disgraceful.

‘There is no benefit from private involvement.’

He said that the academy project was the flagship scheme of Tony Blair and his unelected education minister, Lord Adonis.

Replying to the debate, the NUT’s Hilary Bills reminded delegates that the motion calls for a conference to organise opposition to all forms of privatisation in education.

The successful motion instructed the General Council to support action by workers ‘where the existing and future pay, conditions and pensions of members who are employed in the public, private and voluntary sectors are threatened.’

It said: ‘Congress confirms its commitment to the maintenance of a comprehensive state school system, dedicated to raising educational standards’.

Earlier, in a debate on terrorism and public transport safety, UNISON delegate Steve Warwick made some important points.

Warwick said there were ‘obvious connections between our actions in the Middle East and the terrorists’ motivations.

‘It is simply wrong not to acknowledge the part the Iraq invasion played in stirring up feelings,’ he added.

‘If we are not careful the knee-jerk reaction from the 7th July will take away the very freedoms we seek to protect.

‘The unions must be in the forefront of questioning, scrutinising and challenging the legal changes that come in,’ he added.

He also attacked the shoot-to-kill policy implemented in the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes.