NUT18: Academies, MATs, re-broker, rebrand or renationalise
Motion 11 dealt drew on the increasing evidence of financial mismanagement in Academy chains, with the specific scandal of Wakefield City Academy Trust particularly highlighted. Speakers talked of this case in terms of 'asset stripping the schools'. The speaker recommended using the Companies House website to gain details on this shocking case and see the extravagant salaries being payed to executives.
The seconder of the motion highlighted the lack of accountability in these chains and the blocking of anti-academy /critical voices getting onto governing bodies. The good news was there had been victories where an alliance of parents had succeeded in getting representation on governing bodies.
The tide could be turning as this year has seen the least number of conversions in the last 4 years. Local campaigns are forcing a questioning of academisation and this is a fight that needs to be taken up by every local association. There have been victories e.g. Newham where school governors voted down a move to turn their school into an academy. The union is ready to back sustained action. You realise how bad things are getting when official bodies like the Public Accounts Committee begin complaining things are wrong. The Government has even admitted that local authorities will remain a significant employer for the significant future. New Zealand has decided to end its flirtation with Charter Schools (similar model to academies) with their Prime Minister saying they were driven by ideology rather than sound educational principles.
There were speakers supporting the motion who spoke of draconian discipline of pupils and unacceptable staff conditions of service. The bad record of MATs on disadvantaged students was highlighted, half of all exclusions in academies are of SEN pupils.
One speaker drew attention to some of the backers of academies i.e. hedge funds and emphasised the ideology of profit from education was creeping in with big companies like Pearsons and Google looking for opportunities to make profits.
The message was schools are not an opportunity to make profits, but a public service and should be returned to LA and so be accountable to the communities they serve. Finally a speaker drew our attention to the fact that the DFE claims all academies act under strict accountability and the three Rs, to which they responded yes - repulsive, repugnant and reprehensible.