‘The NUT will support all those school communities – heads, teachers, parents and governors – who resist forced Academy status’, pledged NUT General Secretary Christine Blower yesterday.
She was speaking following the passing of a motion against Academies on the closing day of the NUT Conference in Torquay.
‘The government is forcing primary schools into Academy status by any method possible, despite there being no evidence at all that becoming an Academy will improve educational standards or that it is a model that can work effectively for primary schools.
‘There is a danger that primary heads will find themselves spending more time on procurement and contractual issues than on leading teaching and learning in their schools.
‘This is unsustainable and not the right direction for primary education.
‘In some cases primaries are being swallowed into secondary Academies where there is a strong danger that they will lose their distinct pedagogic practice and their ethos.
‘The NUT will support all those school communities – heads, teachers, parents and governors – who resist forced Academy status and the undemocratic practices which we have seen as part of this process. These have no place in England’s education system.’
Commenting on NUT research into the cost and impact of the Academies and Free Schools programme, Blower said: ‘It is quite extraordinary that in these times of cutbacks and austerity the government has found £337.2 million to support its Academies and Free Schools programme.
‘Free Schools represent a tiny proportion of England’s schools yet there are 126 full time junior staff and seven senior Department for Education (DfE) staff working on the programme.
‘Free Schools are absorbing an increasing proportion of DfE staff resources at a time when the Department as a whole is shrinking.’
Following the passing of a motion against further education cuts, Blower said: ‘The government plans huge cuts to sixth form colleges – sixth form funding is to be cut by almost a fifth in the period to 2015.
She insisted: ‘Sixth form colleges develop the talents of our young people. These cuts must be reversed. We must invest in our young people instead of selling them short.’
At the end of the conference, Blower confirmed: ‘We have the possibility of action up to and including strike action in all of our motions which we feel are of the greatest concern – on local pay and of course on the ongoing pensions campaign.
‘We know that teachers’ pensions are fair and just and reasonable and our members feel that they are having money taken from them unreasonably. So it is likely that industrial action will follow on that matter.’
On Free Schools and Academies, Blower said: ‘The process of cutting all schools away from their local authorities is simply the wrong thing to be doing and opens the way to privatisation.
‘Michael Gove after all says he’s quite relaxed about schools making a profit. That’s not the right thing to do with public money.’