Parents and teachers call for support in opposing proposal to turn local school into an academy

November 9, 2012

Teachers and parents at Heartlands High School in Wood Green are organising to oppose a move by the school’s Governing Body to “further investigate” converting to academy status, and they are calling for more support.

One of those against the Governing Body’s proposal, who did not want to be named, told Haringey Solidarity Group that parents, teachers and staff are concerned about “loss of accountability, future funding, the prospect of becoming a sponsored school and the impact on curriculum, admissions and staff.”

Anyone with any experience or knowledge of academies – schools run by private sponsors – is urged to attend the community consultation meeting at 18:00 on Wednesday 14 November at the school, in Station Road, Wood Green N22 7ST. The meeting is open to anyone from in or around Haringey, and particularly parents who are considering Heartlands High School for their children.

“Teachers and support staff are not supporting this proposal and the National Union of Teachers are actively opposing it,” said the individual who contacted HSG. “The governing body are not in agreement about this.”

Opponents of any conversion to academy status are also raising questions over the openness and fairness of the path that the Governing Body has embarked upon. With less than a month until the Governing Body takes its decision, “a very short period has been given between announcement of consultation and the Governing Body’s vote to apply for conversion. A balanced presentation of the risks and benefits of academy status is not being presented.”

Indeed, looking at the Heartlands High School website, it seems the governing body is doing little more than parroting the line of the Department for Education (DfE) that “academies benefit from greater freedoms to raise standards.”

“Academies are publicly funded independent schools, free from local authority control, says the Heartlands website. “Other freedoms include setting their own pay and conditions for staff, freedoms concerning the delivery of the curriculum, and the ability to change the length of their terms and school days.”

So, despite receiving money from their local council, academies are not subject to local authority standards, nor are they required to follow the national curriculum. This has led to schools being set up by creationist groups, and many academies “are selling unhealthy food and drinks that are banned in other schools.”

Meanwhile, the “freedom” for schools to set their own pay and conditions is nothing more than a licence for employers to pay worse wages than teachers and school staff already receive – not the kind of “freedom” anyone should be in favour of.

The coalition government, despite all its talk of giving power back to local people, forced Downhills school to convert to an academy – to be run by the Harris Federation, operated by millionare aristocrat Lord Harris – against the will of the majority of parents, teachers and staff.

There are many reasons to be critical of local authorities, but currently their control of schools is favourable to the academy system, which is little more than an excuse for privatisation and lowering standards.

The community consultation meeting for Heartlands is at 18:00 on Wednesday 14 November at Heartlands High School, Station Road, Wood Green, London, N22 7ST. Anyone interested in helping oppose the move to academy status can also contact campaigners via email.

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