Monday, 11 February 2008

The South Coast Fight: A report from West Sussex Teachers Association

NAME are pleased to be able to publish to our blog this report from the south coast where the battle against three new privatised 'Woodard Corporation' Academies goes on...
Teachers and Parents oppose academies

150 parents and teachers concerned about the threat to turn Littlehampton, Boundstone and King's Manor into academies attended a meeting organised by the West Sussex Teachers Association on Thursday 7th February.

The local authority's spokesman Robert Back was listened to in polite silence. He argued that although Academies had been corrupt and inefficient in the past they would be very different now. He also argued that the academy was "the only game in town." The private sponsors Woodard Corporation declined to send anyone to speak to us.

Alistair Smith and Hank Roberts spoke on behalf of the NUT and got a very positive reception. Alistair pointed out the dangers of Academies where historically the Local Authority has lost all say in the running of the school with the LA having one governor and the sponsors having the lion's share.He also stressed the social divisiveness of Academies. "Academies,"according to Lord Adonis, "are the 21st Century's Grammar Schools." Hank Roberts pointed out that sponsors generously donating two million pounds can get upwards of 18 million pounds of public money for their trouble and frequently excessive profits are made through "consultancy fees" and the provision of equipment for the school. "They are not sponsors but spongers."

Private businesses are colonising the state funded education system. Everyone who spoke from the floor was opposed to privatisation and not taken in by any of the promises.They rejected the arrogant assertion that "there is no alternative".This is not a spirit in which to conduct a consultation. It is undemocratic...and anyway it is something Margaret Thatcher used to say a lot.

There was also discussion about the spread of religious schools without any popular demand. Hank warned of the proliferation of separate schools for children whose parents have different religious views and the potential divisiveness this will bring about. After an hour and half's lively discussion people left the hall clearly disturbed by what they'd heard and still deep in discussion about the issues raised .

There is also a letter from the former head of Boundstone offering some comments on Academy Status:

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