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Stop Gove’s plans to turn primary schools into academies

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced he will turn 200 “worst-achieving” primary schools into academies next year, writes Rachel Brooks, NUT member

Academies, as compared to state-run schools, are taken out of local authority control and are accountable to no-one. Academies set their own pay and conditions for staff and can set their own curriculum. Previously a failing school would receive support from the local authority who look after a “family of schools”.

The National Union of Teachers is correct when they call this move by Gove an “unacceptable experiment”. Rather then questioning why a primary school might “fail” (i.e. when its pupils do not achieve the required level for basic numeracy and literacy for their age group), Gove is using this as an opportunity to further extend the academies project. Gove wants all state-run schools to be taken out of collective ownership and run autonomously, opening them up to the market. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that handing the education of children over to business would benefit their literacy and numeracy. But Gove is keen to hand over as much of the welfare state over to the market as possible, and schools are not safe.

When the Coalition came into power a year ago Gove offered all “outstanding” schools the opportunity to become academies, and it seems this offer was not taken up as warmly as he would have liked. So now he is going to struggling schools, offering them no choice, and instead automatically turning them over to the market overnight. It is especially hideous that primary education is subject to the academies project. Primary education should be about nurturing the minds of children, allowing them time to develop. Academies have only one interest: results. Children will be required to produce results and teachers’ role will be to work harder to ensure they happen.

Gove knows very little about child development, but a lot about money making and profit. His only interest is inviting the market into schools and bringing back old fashioned methods of teaching, which are not fit for purpose any longer. His plans must be fought and it is up to the teaching unions to fight. The unions have moved too slowly on the academies project, favouring local actions as compared to national. The teaching profession needs to take action quickly to halt this attack.

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