New Labour’s Academies programme has come under fire again after it was discovered that academies in Southwark, south London, had introduced contracts halving paid maternity leave.
The academies are sponsored by a charity called Ark founded by a French multimillionaire. The NUT teachers’ union joint secretary in Southwark, Michael Davern, says that Ark has been using “aggressive management techniques”.
The Ark academy policy also includes putting teachers on a six-month probationary period, keeping written warnings live on file for twice as long and making teachers work around five more days a year than in other secondary schools.
Academies are spreading across Southwark – there will be eight academies in 2009 out of a total of 16 secondary schools. Two will be run by Ark, and three by the Harris Federation, whose lead sponsor is Carpetright boss Lord Harris.
Southwark NUT has also criticised the academies run by the Harris Federation, saying that it had been uncooperative on teachers’ pay and conditions and that they were not allowed to see copies of their teachers’ contracts.