Socialist Worker

New sponsors for academies: schools go nuclear

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2107

Jacobs Engineering Group (JEG) is a “strategic partner” at Atomic Weapons Establishment – which manufactures atomic warheads for the ministry of defence. Sellafield is a nuclear site in Cumbria.

Both are obviously linked in their involvement with nuclear power and weapons.

But they are linked in another way – they are both set to take over the running of schools transferred outside of local authority control.

The idea of people and companies with no experience of running schools – which is at the heart of the government’s academies and trust schools plans – being put in charge of education is bad enough.

But the fact that this will now include nuclear companies has incensed parents and teachers.

Sellafield will take over the running of a school in Cumbria, while JEG is set to become part of a private trust running schools in Ossett, West Yorkshire. Nine schools would be run by the trust, leaving just two primary schools in local authority control.

Trust schools are run by a “partnership” that can involve local councils but also private companies. They are another way of increasing the power of unaccountable businesses over the education system.

Martin Shevill, the headteacher at Ossett School, described the planned trust as “a great opportunity” for children in Ossett.


Much has been made of the “work experience” that children can get at the companies involved in running trust or academy schools.

But as one parent in Ossett put it, “I don’t want my child to go on work experience in a company that makes its money from making nuclear bombs, and I dread to think what sort of problem-solving exercises they might be given.”

Sally Kincaid, the divisional secretary of Wakefield NUT teachers’ union, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve petitioned and leafleted the schools about JEG’s involvement in the trust and people are shocked.

“Last year Wakefield’s Aspire Trust dropped the US firm Bearing Point because the company was involved in the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq. They realised there would be an outcry if it was allowed to run schools, and there will be a similar outcry over JEG.”

Campaigners have three weeks to show their opposition to the plans. The Campaign Against Trust Schools held a public meeting in the town on Tuesday of this week.

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Tue 24 Jun 2008, 18:51 BST
Issue No. 2107
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