Socialist Worker

Academy chain ‘loses’ 194 pupils

Issue No. 2644

Head teacher Barry Smith

Head teacher Barry Smith


An academy chain “lost” 194 children with special educational needs (SEN) at one of its schools in one year.

The Times newspaper reported the drop at the Great Yarmouth Charter Academy in Norfolk, which is run by the Inspiration Trust. The academy said some children with SEN had left and others were reclassified.

The figures represent an 83 percent fall in the number of children with SEN at the academy between January 2017 and January last year.

The number of children with additional needs dropped by 55 percent across the trust’s seven secondary schools between January 2015 and January last year. The average drop for all schools over the same period was 2 percent.

The Inspiration Trust also has one of the highest rates of disappearing students in the run-up to GCSEs.

In 2017-18 it lost 40 students—more than 5 percent—in the year before their GCSEs.

The four academy chains that lost the most students were Delta Academies Trust, Aldridge Education, Inspiration Trust and the Harris Federation.

Academies exclude more children on average than state-run schools.

Some 45 schools gave at least 20 percent of their students one or more fixed-period exclusions in 2016-17. Thirty-four were academies, six were free schools and five were run by local authorities.

Academies are also suspected of selecting students to boost their results and avoid spending money on extra support for students.

One parent said her autistic son was wrongly refused a sixth form place at Jane Austen College in Norwich, also run by the Inspiration Trust.


Battles over academies, pay and restructuring

NEU union members at Inscape House School in Cheshire began a three-day strike over pay on Tuesday of this week.

They held a three-day strike last week.

NASUWT union members at Together Trust, which runs the school, also struck on Tuesday of last week. The union planned five more days of strikes. The trust has refused to recognise unions.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said the trust had made "adverse changes" to workers' pay and conditions.

"Teachers at the Trust are now paid less than their colleagues in other schools," she said. "Retention and recruitment of teachers will be badly affected."

Rachel Knight, NASUWT national executive member for Cheshire, added that the Trust had "reneged" on a previous agreement.

Send messages of support to Dawn.taylor@neu.org.uk


Workers at the Shrewsbury College Group struck on Tuesday of this week, following a two-day strike on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.

The walkouts are against a new lesson observation policy. Jean Evanson, NEU union rep at the school, said the atmosphere on the picket line was “absolutely fantastic”.

“Strikers are resolute,” she told Socialist Worker. “We have three sites with two gates on each, and we’ve had pickets covering all of them. We’ve also had people join the union in the run-up to the strikes.”

The college group was formed through a merger of two colleges in 2016, which had different observation policies.

Principal

Now the college principal wants to impose one system that would include graded observations.

Jean said, “Research has shown that grading is unreliable and subjective.

“We’re fighting because the prospect of being graded makes the whole process stressful and anxiety-ridden.

“The consequences can potentially be enormous. Teachers can be left with depression and grading can cause long-term sickness.”

At the post-picket meeting a number of workers described how a low grade had affected them after observations.

This included long term sickness and leaving their post. These accounts “solidified the mood”.

Labour Party members visited pickets to show solidarity, along with trades council and Unison union members.

Further strikes were set for Thursday of this week, Wednesday of next week and 21 March.

Send messages of support to jean.evanson@neu.org.uk

Workers at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1 College in Leicester began a three-day walkout on Tuesday of this week.

NEU and NASUWT union members are fighting a restructure and held three days of strikes last month.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said the restructuring plans “would leave some staff on worse pay and conditions”.

She added that previous agreements “have not been maintained”.

Send messages of support to joseph.wyglendacz@neu.org.uk and alan.hackett@exec.nasuwt.org.uk

NEU union members at Galliard Primary school in Enfield, north London, were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Workers are fighting a plan to turn the school into an academy. There was a three-day walkout last week.

Send messages of support to Anne-mariehickling@hotmail.co.uk

Fighting stressful grading

Workers at the Shrewsbury College Group struck on Tuesday of this week, following a two-day strike on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.

The walkouts are against a new lesson observation policy. Jean Evanson, NEU union rep at the school, said the atmosphere on the picket line was “absolutely fantastic”.

“Strikers are resolute,” she told Socialist Worker. “We have three sites with two gates on each, and we’ve had pickets covering all of them. We’ve also had people join the union in the run-up to the strikes.”

The college group was formed through a merger of two colleges in 2016, which had different observation policies.

Now the college principal wants to impose one system that would include graded observations.

Jean said, “Research has shown that grading is unreliable and subjective.

“We’re fighting because the prospect of being graded makes the whole process stressful and anxiety-ridden.

“The consequences can potentially be enormous. Teachers can be left with depression and grading can cause long-term sickness.”

Observations 

At the post-picket meeting a number of workers described how a low grade had affected them after observations.

This included long term sickness and leaving their post. These accounts “solidified the mood”.

Labour Party members visited pickets to show solidarity, along with trades council and Unison union members.

Further strikes were set for Thursday of this week, Wednesday of next week and 21 March.

Send messages of support to jean.evanson@neu.org.uk

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