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2016 National Disabled Members' Conference
8 July 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned that although the government has officially “revised its intentions” to force all schools to become academies this is still their intention.

The government says “all schools will be made to convert where the local authority can no longer viably support them where a critical mass of academy schools exists.” Underperforming schools and schools in underperforming local authority area will also be forced to become convert yet there is no definition of underperforming. A school whose results are not better than in the previous year could potentially be defined as underperforming even if the results are outstanding.

Analysis of government policy by think tank CentreForum found that “Given the combination of voluntary conversion, academisation under the Education and Adoption Act and direction at local authority it is possible that full academisation could be achieved without forcing schools one at a time”

And Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s statement after the official change in policy that “having listened to the feedback we will change the path to reaching the goal of all schools becoming academies” confirms the government’s true intentions.

Conference we are concerned about the impact this will have on Disabled Members who work in schools as well as disabled children who may receive less support.

Local authorities will be responsible for “identifying, assessing and making provision for children with special educational needs and disability” but will not be able to enforce the level of support, commission the support or control admissions criteria. Disabled children will be left with little choice of school and insufficient support to meet their needs.

Conference, we are already seeing the impact on Disabled Members employed in academies. Disabled Teaching Assistants are being made redundant because the child they have been allocated to support moves schools even though they could support other children in the school. Deaf Teaching Assistants have been told they can’t have a BSL interpreter in the classroom because other children “don’t need to be taught BSL.”

Conference calls on NDMC to work with the Local Government Service Group to:

1. ensure that disability issues are at the centre of the campaign against forced academisation

2. raise awareness of the issues disabled employees and disabled children are facing in schools that have already been academised

3. provide guidance to Branches and Regions on working with disabled people’s groups to fight forced academisation

4. work with Branches to ensure that employment and redundancy selection processes implemented by academies do not discriminate against disabled staff

5. whilst recruiting and organising in academies ensure the benefits of joining UNISON that are specifically supportive to people with disabilities, are highlighted.