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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
12 June 2010

This Conference is alarmed that the new coalition government announced plans on 25 May for an immediate Academies Bill to allow more schools in England, including primaries and special schools, to be fast-tracked into academies. They will not have to consult with the local authority and it is unclear if there will even be any requirement for wider consultation with the community.

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s letter to all outstanding schools promotes the benefits of academies as;

1)freedom from local authority control;

2)ability to set pay and conditions for staff;

3)freedom from following the national curriculum;

4)greater control over school budgets;

5)and freedom to spend the money local authorities currently spend on schools’ behalf.

Recent surveys have shown 96% of parents want a good local school run by local councils, the public is opposed to head teachers being given more freedom. No evidence reflects that academy schools deliver better educational outcomes for pupils, but they do have the potential to create widespread inequality and segregation. Also being ignored are the views of more than 800,000 teachers and support staff.

Conference is completely opposed to this policy and other proposed education reforms, which include allowing parents, teachers or charities to open up publicly funded “independent” schools in the maintained sector.

Aside from the impact on the education of children, the proposals are a blatant ideological attack on the education system which aims to introduce a two tier, market driven system of independent schools extending the role of private companies in the running of schools and the provision of services currently provided by local Councils. Jobs, pay and terms and conditions of tens of thousands of UNISON members will be under threat. This would also have a major impact on national pay in England, as academies will be outside of the remit of the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB).

Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to step up its ongoing campaign against academies and to:

1)Work with relevant trade unions nationally, regionally and locally to oppose attacks on schools staff contracts and terms and conditions and to oppose this legislation as it goes through parliament

2)Have support and materials in place to campaign in the workplace where individual schools are opting to become academies.

3)Highlight the lack of evidence to support the expansion of academies, the lessons learnt from existing academies and the experience of staff who work in them.

4)Ensure there is regular information and advice to members and branches on the campaign and political developments and continue to work through the Million Voices Campaign with other organisations including the Anti Academies Alliance

5)Work with regions in England to ensure the Organising in Schools agenda includes this issue and strategies to fight against academies and defend pay and conditions and to ensure the SSNB agreement applies to Academy schools

6)Liaise with UNISON in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and monitor the impact this may have on policy and bargaining developments in their government administrations.