Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central, has spoken out in Parliament against the recent Government announcement that all schools are to become academies.
The Labour MP said “The forced academisation brings a likely price tag of half a billion pounds, plus the extra £500million cost for extending the school day; which is on top of the £4 billion of cuts the budget outlined would be made over the next four years.
The simple question is: why? Why should we pay such a hefty sum at a time when cuts are being made to vital services, for a damaging change?
This is another example of the Tories placing more onus on structure and ideology than on what will benefit our students. Yet another step in what has been an abysmal education record. For the past four years the Tories have missed their target for recruiting new trainees, with a record high of 50,000 teachers quitting the profession last year. Does this alone not send a message to the Government that they are approaching education in the wrong way?
I am a co-opted governor of a school in my constituency and witness first-hand how schools work closely with not only other schools in the area, but with the local authority. The schools in my constituency view the education proposals with growing horror, as they can see the flaws in what is being put forward. There is no evidence to support this change. The Education Select Committee found that there are good and outstanding schools in both the academy sector and in the maintained, local authority sector. The reality is that great teachers and great head teachers ensure great education and successful schools. Putting all schools under the control of academy chains accountable only to ministers in London is based on dogma, not on evidence. Seven of the eight largest academy chains have serious weaknesses, according the schools inspection body, Ofsted.
We have many good and outstanding schools in the maintained sector. We have parents, children, staff and communities that value the partnership between schools and the local authority.
Yet we also have a centralising Secretary of State and a centralising Government who do not trust local people, parents or school leaders. At a time when we have a shortage of staff and a great lack of confidence in Government, all they can do is force schools to do things against their wishes. That is not the way in which education should be run.”