Opposition to government’s forced academies policy increases

Government plans to force 17,000 schools in England to become academies opposed by unions, educators and politicians, including leading Conservative voices

Forcing 17,000 schools in England to become academies over the next six years will mean schools having to hire lawyers, consultants and accountants, and manage the transfer of schools’ land and buildings, instead of focusing on teaching and learning, say school unions, including UNISON, educators and increasing numbers of local politicians.

“This is not what parents want from their schools; nor was this proposal part of the manifesto that the current government put before the electorate,” says a letter in this week’s Sunday Telegraph signed by UNISON head of education Jon Richards, teaching union general secretaries and others.

This was responding to education secretary Nicky Morgan’s Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper, which fleshed out plans first announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his budget.

The growing opposition to the forced academies plan includes influential voices within the Conservative Party.

The Bow Group think tank has declared that it opposes the plans because they contradict the “commitment to localism” by removing “the power of elected, local representatives to influence the development of education in their communities, and bestow all powers on central government.”

And the Observer carried a letter this week from the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups in the Local Government Association saying the plans are causing “enormous concern”.

The councillors’ letter said they “urge the government to listen to the concerns of families, teachers, unions, politicians and experts and rethink the proposals in the white paper.”

UNISON has a number of campaigning resources on the issue available to download on the new academy schools web pages.

You can also sign a petition against the plans at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124702.