Teachers: Academies policy has ‘failed’

by Peter Wozniak

The two largest teaching unions have lambasted the coalition government’s plans for increasing the number of state schools taking on academy status.

The government has confirmed that thirty-two schools will take up academy status this academic term as a result of the academies bill that allows headteachers at ‘outstanding’ state schools to opt out of local authority control.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), decried the academies bill as rushed, saying: “It simply hasn’t caught the imagination of school leaders, teachers and parents”.

Ms Blower cited the fact that so few schools had opted to change for the new term as evidence that the policy, the brainchild of the education secretary Michael Gove and designed to use the freedom from local authority control as a method of raising standards, had failed in its
aims.

The government had initially claimed that 2,000 schools had expressed an interest in adopting academy status, though Mr Gove was forced to revise this down to just 150.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the second largest teachers’ union, the NASUWT, slated the policy, saying: “The collusion and subterfuge in which the coalition government has engaged with some headteachers and governing bodies to keep their intention to convert their schools into academies from parents, staff and the public is disgraceful.

“The reason for a low take-up will be much closer to home. The coalition government has misjudged the situation and its tactics have failed.”

Mr Gove’s attempts to reform education have so far met with serious setbacks, though the education secretary remained optimistic, describing the small number of schools taking up academy status as “pathfinders” for the rest to follow.