Socialist Worker

MPs to host Committee of Enquiry into Academies

by Alisdair Smith
Issue No. 2051

There has been a series of horror stories about academy schools recently, such as Thomas Deacon academy in Peterborough – built deliberately without a playground – or Marlowe Academy in Kent which took history, geography and languages off the curriculum.

But the whole story is still not heard. That’s why on 2 June a group of MPs will be hosting a Committee of Enquiry, in conjunction with the Anti Academies Alliance.

The MPs are inviting parents, teachers, head teachers, and councillors to submit evidence.

They will also hear from journalists, academics, trade unionists and campaigners.

The committee will also listen to concerns about trust schools. People should give evidence whatever the stage of their campaign.

The committee aims to take the debate to party and trade union conferences, local authorities and governing bodies.

The public debate on academies has, so far, been skewed by powerful vested interests.

As professor Stephen Ball’s new book Education PLC reveals, there are now vast networks of corporate interests involved in “edubusiness”.

If their persuasion doesn’t work then the department for education and skills can threaten that if you don’t accept an academy in your area, you won’t get money from the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The £150 million or so means that saying no to an academy seems almost impossible.

Yet the evidence from local campaigns around the country tells a different story. Two authorities – Barking & Dagenham and Burnley – have defied the BSF bullying.

There is growing evidence against academies. Guardian journalist Francis Beckett has just published his book, The Great City Academy Fraud, and a National Audit Office report reveals serious problems.

Delegations should write to the office of Ken Purchase MP at the House of Commons informing him of their intention to give evidence. They should let their local MP know they are coming and invite them to meet their delegation.

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Tue 15 May 2007, 18:31 BST
Issue No. 2051
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