Posts Tagged ‘Association of Teachers and Lecturers’

Vox Political on Nick Gibb Address to Teacher’s Conference

April 6, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political ran this story from the Groan, which reported the kind and courteous welcome Nick Gibb got when he spoke to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers at their conference in Liverpool. Of course, I’m being ironic when I say that it was ‘kind and courteous’. In fact that they jeered him. And I don’t blame them. What Gibb said was pure rubbish.

The Tories are, of course, determined to turn 17,000 primary schools in England into academies. Gibb made the usual attempt to try to justify this massive privatisation to the Tory party’s corporate backers by saying that it would lead to an improvement in quality. He told his audience of educational professionals that if they spoke to the headmasters, who had become heads of the academy chains, they would hear that academy schools were flourishing. Because they’re professionally led.

This is, of course, complete twaddle. The same could also be said of the state schools under LEA control. They’re also managed by professionals, in the sense that the Local Education Authority is staffed by people, who earn their living from managing schools. Just as the actual teaching and administrative staff in the schools themselves, the teachers, teaching assistants, school secretaries, dinner ladies and caretakers are also educational professionals. After all, the work in education.

Mike has already pointed out, along with very many other bloggers, time and again, that standards in academies and free schools are actually worse than state schools. In the comments to the article, he reproduces the following graphic, which shows how the number of academies which are rated ‘inadequate’ far outstrip LEA schools.

leaVacademyschools

In fact, 25 academies last year had to be handed back to state administration because their standards were so bad. Charlie Stayt made a valiant attempt to get Thicky Nicky Morgan to admit this, but the minister with the mad staring eyes just carried on chuntering about how terrible it was that schools were being left under the control of local authorities, which continued to inflict their low educational standards on their impressionable young charges.

The opposite is true. Of course, the government likes the idea of privatising, are part-privatising the education system, because it hands over a very lucrative state enterprise to their corporate backers. They, and their big business paymasters also like it, because it means that private industry can set the terms of pay and conditions much lower than in the state sector. For example, it was the case that to teach in a state school, you should have a teaching qualification. You either did a teaching degree, or you completed a normal degree, and then took a PGCE. I don’t know if the situation’s changed now, but a few years ago you didn’t need a teaching qualification to teach in a private school. This is, I should repeat, private schools rather than academies. But my point remains. Pay and conditions for the teaching staff are lower, and the staff themselves may not be as well qualified as their counterparts in the state sector.

So where does the money spent on academy schools actually go? The obvious answer is the pockets of the senior managers and shareholders, who are obviously looking forward to doing very well out of it, thank you very much. And this also gives the lie to the claim that private enterprise is somehow more efficient and less bureaucratic. Clearly it isn’t, as there’s a whole bureaucracy in the academy chains themselves, as well as the extra expense of giving lucrative dividends to the shareholders.

No doubt as the teaching unions continue to voice their opposition to the privatisation of England’s schools, the Tories will start to bang their usually drum about how ‘loony-lefty’ teachers are threatening their pupils’ future with their doctrinaire opposition to the government’s wonderful new policy. And here again, the truth is the precise opposite. Teachers teach because they enjoy imparting knowledge. Not always successfully, and very often not to receptive pupils. But they do it because they find it rewarding. And, in general, they are very concerned to make sure that their pupils perform to the best of their ability, and get the best available opportunities for their education. It was the teaching unions in the 1930s who kept up the pressure for compulsory state secondary education. But you are very definitely not going to hear that from the likes of Nick Gibb or Thicky Nicky Morgan.

Forget the government’s hype. The conversion of the primary schools into academies in England will lead to worse standards. It’s the teachers opposing the government’s reforms, who are really trying to maintain and improve them.

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/04/teachers-heckle-schools-minister-over-academy-plans/#comments. Go and see what he says.

14 Academy Chains Barred from Managing More Schools

March 23, 2014

The Conservative Party Annual Conference

Michael Gove: The man now in charge of wrecking our children’s education. But only if you’re working or lower middle class.

The I newspaper also carried a story in its Friday edition (21st March 2014) that 14 academy chains, including the largest, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) have been banned from running any more schools. The I stated that the reason for this were concerns about low standards and financial management in the schools the chains already manage.

The barred academies together manage about 200 state schools altogether. Apart from the Academies Enterprise Trust, which runs 75 schools, they also include the Academies Transformation Trust, which runs 16. This last company was criticised for paying over £50,000 to a trustee and a company owned by the daughter-in-law of the Trust’s chief executive. The other barred academy chains are the Barnfield Academies Trust, with seven schools, City of Wolverhampton Academy Trust, two schools, Djanogly Learning Trust, with five schools, and E-ACT with 34 schools. E-Act were forced to return a third of these 34 schools to the state because of poor performance in Ofsted results. The other barred academy chains are the Grace Foundation with three schools, Landau Foundation with six, Lee Chapel Academy Trust with a single school, Prospects Academy Trust, which has five, South Nottingham College Academy Trust with two, The Learning Schools Trust, which has four, University of Chester Academies Trust, which has ten and the West Hertfordshire Teaching Schools partnership, which currently runs 25.

At the moment, the education watchdog, Ofsted, does not have the power to inspect academies, and Michael Gove has blocked calls for it to do so. After this news broke, the chief schools inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, and the Liberal Democrat Schools Minister, David Laws, both again called for Ofsted to be given such powers.

The article also quoted Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, on the decision to stop these chains from expanding further. She said ‘My main concern is for the children … and whether they are getting a decent standard of education. It is one thing to say they can’t run anymore schools, but what’s happening in the schools already in place?’

Others found the timing of this news also suspicious. It was released at the same time as the Budget. The Labour MP and former universities minister, John Denham, who had made the request for information on the number of chains that had been barred, accused the Education Department of ‘burying bad news’. In response, the Department of Education stated that this was ‘way off beam’, as the information had been made available to parliament on Tuesday before the Budget.

That still sounds to me suspiciously close to the Budget, so that it sounds like the Tories were hoping that it would be overshadowed by it.

Mike over at Vox Political, Another Angry Voice, and a number of other bloggers have also covered the way the Tories are gradually privatising education. The academies can set their own wages and conditions and, as the article stated, are currently exempt from Ofsted inspection. Gove also wishes to remove the current requirement for teachers to possess a degree. The Conservatives appear determined to privatise the school system, even though this will lead to much lower standards. Of course, they especially have no sympathy for the teachers and other staff working in the schools, in the same way they have shown precious little sympathy or understanding of Britain’s workers in general. Except when they decide to patronise them with a penny off beer and less tax on bingo, of course. What matters to Gove and the rest of the Tories is that it should all be run for profit, regardless of poor results and standards.

The fact that 14 academy chains have been barred from acquiring any more schools and that Ofsted is not allowed to inspect academies indicates that there are serious problems with the Tories plans to replace state with private education. The whole policy needs to be abandoned, and the schools returned to responsible state management, rather than irresponsible trusts, which simply see education as an investment.