Derbyshire Green Party supports the governing body and leadership team of Sinfin Community School in opposing the government’s requirement for the school to become a forced academy in the light of its OFSTED inspection reports from 2012. The most recent monitoring inspection visit from October 12th 2012 reports progress being made in a number of areas including the school’s highest ever attainment in the GCSE results in the Summer of 2012. While the report does note where further progress is required and focuses on the speed of that development, it nevertheless mentions a number of ongoing improvements, which suggest that the school’s staff is working hard to address the issues raised. Why then in November 2012 did the government replace the governing body and order the conversion into a forced academy?
Academies are exempt from the national curriculum, the regulations concerning the quality of food provided for students, the teachers pay scale and even the requirement to hire qualified teachers. All of these are the essential elements of an accountable and equitable education system serving both a defined national need and that of a local area. It would appear that community involvement in education is now unimportant in government policy, which is that every school in the country will be an academy by 2015. In other words there will not be a national education policy for the curriculum our children learn or the rates at which our teachers are paid or the fact that teachers need to have qualifications. It is unsurprising that the Department for Education is cutting hundreds of jobs at the moment, because it will be private companies in the form of academy chains who will be running our school system, not the democratically controlled Ministry of Education or Local Education Authority. We are a short step away from schools being completely privatised and eventually from schools being run for profit. This was never revealed in the Conservative election manifesto or in the published Coalition agreement. This policy has been forced through with out the proper engagement of the stakeholders in our education system.
A school like Sinfin Community School needs to support its students using deep knowledge of its local context. It does not need a formula solution using business people whose first priorities will be the for profit business model rather than teaching and learning. Ten miles away in Ilkeston a school which was previously designated as satisfactory is now inadequate in three of the four inspection categories including leadership and management. This has occurred after a year as an academy with the Ormiston Trust. As an extra affront to the local community the parents of children at the other Ormiston academy in Cotmanhay are facing a merger into this currently failing school. This proposal has come about because of falling rolls (a temporary issue) and despite an assurance when the chain took over both schools that they would remain separate.
There is no such thing as one size fits all in education and academies are certainly not that solution. The Green Party urge all with an interest in the education of our young people to vigorously oppose this stealth privatisation of our education system.
[Philip Hood, Ilkeston]