The “progressive” face of New Labour’s academy programme slipped this week, after a leading academy sponsor spoke of his desire to deny parents the right to appeal over exclusions and described teaching unions as a “block to reform”.
Richard Tice is the chair of Northampton academy and a member of the United Learning Trust – the biggest academy sponsor in Britain.
He has written a paper on the academies programme for Reform – a right wing think tank committed to “liberalising” the public sector.
The paper makes queasy reading – with much talk of the need to run schools with a “business orientated culture”.
Tice laments the fact that parents and children have the right to appeal against exclusions, arguing that appeals “waste significant time and resources”.
In contrast, his own academy has agreed to have a part time police officer stationed in a “prominent location” in the school to “improve discipline”.
As parents “can be a serious factor in undermining school authority”, Tice suggests introducing a “discipline contract” between parents and schools.
Tice also attacks teaching unions and national conditions of employment.
He wants the right to introduce performance related pay and “incentives” for teachers.
Tice claims about how it “takes far too long” to sack “failing” teachers, and writes that schools should be “genuinely free to set their own levels of teachers’ pay and conditions”.
Tice has spelled out the dangerous reality of New Labour’s academy programme.
In an amazing line, he says, “It appears to me the unions have been too successful in representing their members’ interests.” They need to keep doing so – because the future described in this paper awaits them if they don’t.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at the Withins School in Bolton unanimously voted last week to say that they are willing to strike against plans to turn their school into an academy.
Bolton council is proposing that staff be transferred from local authority control to another employer and be run as an academy.
Barry Conway, secretary of Bolton NUT, said, “Our members have voted to back industrial action because they want to work for Bolton council and the council is telling them that they can’t.”
When schools are turned into academies, the old school is often closed down and a new academy opened, meaning that teachers don’t “transfer” to the new employer.
“But where schools are simply handed to another employer to run, teachers can fight a “trade dispute” over the identity of their new employer.
The NASUWT teachers’ union branch in Withins School has called a meeting with executive members to discuss the issue.
The NUT’s action committee is set to meet this week to decide whether members at Withins can ballot for action.
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Thousands of people across Doncaster have signed petitions calling on the town’s mayor to halt plans to turn Doncaster’s secondary schools into a mixture of trust schools and academies.
John Westmoreland, chair of Doncaster Anti Academies Alliance, told Socialist Worker, “People are dismayed at the thought of private businesses running our schools.
“Doncaster Anti-Academies Alliance was set up three weeks ago.
“We lobbied the Doncaster Central constituency Labour Party last Sunday, calling on Labour members to demand a debate about the future of secondary education.
“We were denied access on the grounds that we were not Labour Party members.”
His treatment exposes the British state