MP accuses Government of '˜bullyboy' tactics over academy plans

The Government's plans to '˜force through' the academisation of schools across the country, has been fiercely criticised by Burnley MP Julie Cooper.
Julie CooperJulie Cooper
Julie Cooper

In an impassioned statement explaining her opposition, the ex-teacher and former school governor Mrs Cooper said: “I am totally opposed to the Government’s plans to force through this legislation for a good many reasons; principally since the Government made no mention of their intention in their manifesto, it seems clear that they have no mandate to force through such plans, without consultation and by using ‘bullyboy’ tactics.

“No clear reason has been given for the forced academisation of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools. In fact this would be against the Government’s original rationale, which was to improve ‘failing’ or ‘coasting’ schools. There is no evidence that academies result in consistent patterns of improvement; indeed the Education Select Committee highlighted huge discrepancies within the academy sector, concluding that ‘current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall for disadvantaged children.’

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“These are quite simply the wrong priorities and distract from the serious issues which should be at the forefront of their education policies; namely teacher shortages, lack of school places, lack of coherent planning, the over-testing of primary school children and a shortfall in funding.

Schools need further time and stability to embed the latest in a stream of curricular changes, rather than having further change imposed upon them.”

The Burnley MP also criticised the lack of local accountability under the proposed system claiming that parents, governors and the Local Authority were being excluded from the process and their powers given to a trust and accountants instead.

She said: “Past experience also shows that academisation is a costly process, with school leaders forced to hire costly lawyers, consultants and accountants. This will be a huge distraction from schools’ core function of teaching and learning. Schools are to be run in essence like little businesses for profit, which suggests that this could be a ‘back door’ route to privatisation.”

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Mrs Cooper, who last week spoke out against forced academisation in the House of Commons, has pledged to oppose the Government’s plans at every stage in Parliament and to fight to ensure that parents, children and communities are at the heart of decisions on schools in Burnley and Padiham.