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Teachers gear up to strike against forced academies

This article is over 9 years, 8 months old
As proof emerges that academies grab funds from state schools, Sadie Robinson looks at the growing revolt against privatisation
Issue 2303
A march against academies earlier this year (Pic: Stanton )
A march against academies earlier this year (Pic: Alan Stanton)

The Tories have given 90 percent of academy schools too much money. That’s the startling finding of an investigation by the Financial Times newspaper.

Academies are schools that get government funding but are privately run. They are a way of privatising the education system.

They have grabbed more than £120 million in overpayments this academic year—while state-run schools are in dire need of resources.

The Tollbar Academy in Lincolnshire got £697,000 more than it should have in 2011–12. The Gable Hall School in Thurrock received an overpayment of £665,000.

Disgracefully, state-run schools will pay the price for the overpayments. As the FT states, “the majority of the overspend will be clawed back from local authorities”.

This confirms the fear that privatised academies will snatch money away from state-run schools.

The Department for Education funds academies directly, while state-run schools are funded by local authorities. Academies get a fee to buy services, such as special educational needs support, that state-run schools would receive from their local authorities.

The government has cut council funding, squeezing these services while throwing money at privatised schools.

Concerns have been raised about the use of money to persuade schools to convert to academies. Many head teachers say the prospect of extra money is a key reason to convert.

Yet despite these financial incentives, academies are so unpopular that the Tories have resorted to trying to force schools to privatise.

This is provoking serious resistance.

Teachers in 15 primary schools across Birmingham are balloting for strikes against academies.

Tory education secretary Michael Gove wants to force around 30 primary schools in the city to become academies.

The ballot involves teachers in the NUT and NASUWT unions.

Yes votes could see powerful strikes that would shut down schools.

And NUT members at Downhills Primary school in Haringey, north London, have unanimously voted for strikes to stop a forced academy there.

Their first strike is set to take place on Tuesday of next week.

Phil Brett, an NUT rep at Downhills, told Socialist Worker, “A strong parents’ campaign is backing the strikes. And workers in the Unison union are balloting for action too.

“Lord and Lady Harris arrived unannounced at the school last week—the Harris Federation is the sponsor that wants to take it over. It seems they think they own it already!”

Gove had to remove the governing body at Downhills because it opposed the academy plans.

Strikes against academies have the potential to stop Gove—and deepen the Tories’ crisis.

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