Teachers back call for strikes against academisation to begin next term

Teachers will ballot for one-day strikes over government’s White Paper plans

Eleanor Busby

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Teachers have voted overwhelmingly to strike against the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies.

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers conference in Brighton this afternoon backed a series of one-day strikes against academisation plans they say amount to privatisation. The first strike would begin next term, subject to a successful ballot, with or without the support of other unions.

Ian Murch from the union’s national executive said: “The NUT is not going to stand by while our education service loses all of its democratic accountability, while parents are denied any voice in their own children’s schools, while schools are stolen from their local communities.”

“We will fight forced academisation of our schools. The policy of academisation has already failed, failed because all the evidence shows it delivers worse results, not better, even on the government’s own measures,” he continued.

“Education is a public service, not a business opportunity. We will defend it against the ideologues and free marketeers.” 

He said the new system of multi-academy trusts envisaged by the government would leave schools “nicely laid out in bite-sized chunks” to be taken over by “predatory” private companies “feeding on public services”. 

Hazel Danson, a national executive member from Kirklees, West Yorkshire, said the academisation plans were “utterly undemocratic” and “driven by a secretary of state who wants all of the control with none of the responsibility”.

Hank Roberts, from Brent in north west London, called for teachers to consider taking "direct action” against the White Paper plans.

He told delegates how protesters recently gained access to academy chain ARK’s headquarters for an occupation after claiming they were coming to someone’s birthday.

“The security guard was fooled," he said. "He just let us in, by the way, without checking anything."

“So there are lots of things you can do, lots of things you can get away with," Mr Roberts added. "We have got to be endlessly inventive so they don’t know what is hitting them next. They can’t imagine what is hitting them next." 

Yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the conference and told delegates that the government's push for academies and free schools would lead to the "asset-stripping of our education system".

But the NUT's collective defiance may yet fall on deaf ears in Whitehall, after Ms Morgan ruled out the prospect of a Government U-turn over academisation.

She told the NASUWT conference in Birmingham today there would be "no pulling back" and "no reverse gear" on the Government's education reforms, including the controversial roll-out of academy schools in England.​

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "It’s disappointing that the NUT would rather play politics with our children’s future than work constructively with us to deliver our vision for educational excellence everywhere.

“We make no apology for our reforms, which have resulted in a record number of children now being taught in good or outstanding schools – 1.4 million more than in 2010. And, as set out in our White Paper, we are determined to continue with our vision to ensure every single child has the best possible education, as well as raising the status of the profession.

"It would be refreshing to see the NUT doing likewise.”

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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