Opposition as plans emerge to convert Burnley secondary school into academy

Plans to convert a Burnley secondary school into an academy have been met with opposition from an union representing many teachers at the school.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 4:12 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd July 2019, 5:12 pm
Opposition to the plans has been expressed

Plans have emerged at Blessed Trinity RC College in Ormerod Road, to abandon the current voluntary-aided governance mechanism in which the Local Authority and Catholic Diocese control the school and move instead to the controversial academy model in which taxpayers still provide funding but decisions are made by a trust which is not accountable to parents or the local community.

The National Education Union, which has 35 members at the school, has seen an open letter produced by staff and is now coordinating a campaign to stop the conversion.

Bob Waring, NEU Branch Secretary for Lancashire, said: “Millions of pounds of public money is being wasted on this Government’s academy and free school schemes. Evidence shows a significant spend on legal, accountancy, recruitment, property services and other consultancy fees connected with academy conversions.

Blessed Trinity RC College, Burnley

"It is vital that the public can have confidence that this money is being spent in the classroom to improve their children’s education and not on unnecessary bureaucracy and executive salaries.”

Sarah Bedwell, NEU Joint District Secretary for East Lancashire said: “The foundational myth of the academies programme – that it would boost educational attainment among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – must now be laid to rest as just that: a myth.

“The Sutton Trust report Chain Effects 2018 conclusively showed that the expansion of Multi-Academy Trusts under the academy programme has not delivered on what it was supposed to. It has done the opposite, with academy chains performing below the national average for disadvantaged pupils.

"The programme has also produced a fractured and incoherent schools system in which the voices of parents, pupils and staff are diminished. There is no evidence that becoming an academy makes any difference to pupil performance”.

Peter Middleman, NEU Regional Secretary for the North West, said: “In the same week that the Department for Education have announced that one-fifth of academies had to be rescued from failing trusts at a cost of £31m last year, the timing of this proposal could not be worse.

"Parents, students and the wider community are right to be concerned about an increasingly discredited academy system which all the evidence shows, does absolutely nothing to improve educational standards and we will therefore vigorously oppose these plans by the diocese to privatise another popular and locally accountable school.”

A consultation period is expected to end by September 27th (with the proposed conversion on November 1st).