School governors to fight academy status plans for Lambeth primaries
Teaching unions and school governors have vowed to “fight every inch of the way” against Government plans to force struggling schools to become academies.
It is understood the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, is planning to enforce academy status on three Lambeth primary schools, making them independent from council control.
The list of chosen schools has not yet been revealed, but Jubilee Primary School in Tulse Hill is believed to be a potential candidate.
The coalition Government has favoured academies since it came to power in 2010 and council-funded schools that fail an Ofsted inspection report are now obliged to seek academy status.
But critics claim academies, which are often funded by corporate sponsors, have the power to adapt the teaching curriculum and damage communities through privatising education. Sara Tomlinson, of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Lambeth branch, said the plans would be a sign of the Government exploiting underperforming schools in order to cut costs in the education sector.
She said: “It would be a wholesale assault on community education and would be an attempt to break the family of schools. Primary schools are very much part of their communities.
“The academies programme has in no way been proved to make a difference in terms of results.
“If a school is in difficulty it needs more support from the local authority, not less.”
Nick Toms, chairman of governors at Jubilee Primary School, said he would “fight it every inch of the way” if the proposals were put into effect.
But he added Ofsted would have to prove the school was “failing” if it wanted to sack the board of governors and bring in new leadership.
In April 2011, inspectors said there had been “substantial improvements in the quality of teaching” and “rising attainment throughout the school” despite previous worries about poor exam results.
Mr Toms, who has two children at the school, said: “I am sure [the Government’s] ultimate aim is for them to make money out of education – but I don’t think people should make money out of our children.
“I don’t believe in the privatisation of schools. We’ve had a chequered history but this is a community school and we want it to continue as that.”
Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has previously spoken out against the Government’s plans to enforce academy status on Lambeth’s schools.
Mr Umunna criticised the department of education for rejecting a recent Freedom of Information (FoI) request, in which he asked which schools had been identified as potential academy targets.
He said: “It is wholly unacceptable for the Education Secretary and his Whitehall mandarins to seek to impose academy status on our local schools without the consent of the community.
“This would also fly in the face of Government rhetoric, which claims ministers want to see decision-making devolved down to a local level.”