Sunday, 23 April 2017

Schools being put in hands of privateers

My letter printed in full by Yorkshire Evening Post:

If Teresa May thinks she has called her election in time, then based only on the situation in education, she is surely wrong. Parents have now seen what teachers have known through dreadful experience for some time now. Ignorant political interference from successive governments has reduced what should be the happiest days of our children's lives into ones of trauma.

How many parents see their kids' favourite teachers suddenly leave? Qualified, dedicated teachers are leaving the profession and their charges in droves. These are teachers burnt out before they get properly started, and those burnt out when they have years more to give. 

Parents see their own children, tested to oblivion, hysterical at the age of ten, at the very thoughts of SATs. These are Yr 6 tests which only there to judge how well schools are doing. 

Parents are being criminalised for taking their own children on holiday. Whose children are they? The state's? This country is penalising parents for wanting to spend more time with their own children and give them experiences that they couldn't afford or which aren't available during the normal holiday period.

Parents know that funding cuts are losing us the TAs and are increasing class sizes.

Parents know that their school has cancelled GCSE Music even if they didn't realise that Arts subjects are already being lost to the curriculum.

And above all parents know that schools are being put in the hands of the privateers, and taken out of the hands of experienced educationalists. And, if they didn't already know, they will soon, that they don't even need to be consulted anymore.

In the UK the privateers are the academisers. If it was up to teachers and parents no schools would become 'academies'. Sadly a combination of a succession of ignorant secretaries of state and, all too often, their stooges, governing bodies, have allowed businesses to expand their money-making plans into the field of education. (And I write as an ex-school governor of 20 years 'experience)

Academisation is not just putting control of education into the hands of the privateers. It is a land grab. The public, tax-payers' school buildings and the land that they stand on are just given away to the new owners. 

It will take one generation to see off all that the Education Act of 1944 and Tony Crossland's Comprehensive Statute of 1965 put in place. If we don't stop this government's disastrous uninformed "educational" policies, this generation of 10 yr olds will be the illiterate, uncreative, disillusioned and suicidal adults of the 2030s. 

And it is with some sadness that On going to the NUT Conference in Cardiff I find out that yet another Leeds high school is going for the old "jump before you're pushed" argument. I hope that the parents of this school get together to tell its governors to just say no to academisation. That old notion that jumping before being pushed gives you some sort of a choice has long been discredited. The instability that all other schools have gone through, and are still going through should be warning enough. 

Victoria Jaquiss 
Leeds Education campaigner, teacher, 
parent, grandparent, ex-school governor

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