As a former teacher, a parent and experienced school governor I take a very great interest in education. I know that allowing all our children access to an excellent education is the best start that we can give them in life. It is the best way to ensure a route into employment and the best way for them to achieve a fulfilling life. I believe that it is a shame that the Government has not come to us with a serious plan to improve educational standards. The proposal force all schools to become academies is nothing more than a gimmick. There is no evidence whatsoever that academies raise standards. The Sutton report in 2014 pointed to the “significant variation in outcomes” and the Education Select Committee report in 2015 that there is “no clear evidence that academies raise standards overall” And recently her majesty’s chief inspector of schools noted recently that despite having operated for a number of years, many of the trusts manifested the same weaknesses . and noted that in some cases there had been a decline in standards.
The fact is that educational standards rise and children succeed when they experience excellent teaching and the evidence shows that it matters not whether this takes place in a local authority or an academy. The Government is choosing to ignore the evidence and is riding roughshod over both public and professional opinion. There was no mention of these radical proposals in the Conservative manifesto. There has been no consultation with the teaching profession. Schools are already experiencing massive staff recruitment problems and since 2010 there have been 6500 fewer entrants into teacher training. I would suggest that this proposal will only serve to make a bad situation worse. Morale in the teaching profession has never been lower. Class sizes have been allowed to rise and are not at their highest level for 15 years and three quarters of teachers report a rise in work load.
The proposed changes are not just unhelpful they are downright damaging. 85 % of all primary schools are already judged to be outstanding why are they now to be forced to become academies and what is this expensive top down reconfiguration all going to cost? School budgets face a real terms cut for the first time since the mid-1990s so why then when schools are facing such huge challenges are we asking teachers to take time, money and effort away to implement a change which has no track record of success. If the Government comes forward with a genuine plan to raise educational standards by ensuring that schools are properly resourced and teachers are properly supported I will back it but I will not be backing this irresponsible meddling.
In Burnley and Padiham 35 state maintained schools stand to be affected and to date hundreds of parents, governors and teachers have already written to me to oppose the Government’s proposals which fly totally in the face of localism. Where is the democracy in this proposal? Where is the accountability? Why are parents to be excluded from the governance of their children’s schools? Why are the views of the professionals, the teachers being ignored? I will stand up for the parents of Burnley and Padiham, I will stand up for teachers and governors but above all I will be opposing the forced academisation of our schools because I care passionately about the education of our children.