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A North West NUT member.


Since Labour’s re-election, the cabinet re-shuffle has rocketed Andrew Adonis, Blair’s adviser and the architect of the academies’ strategy, into the House of Lords and a key position as junior education minister.   The government has re-affirmed its commitment to create 200 academies by 2010.


No Quick Fix

This year’s Key Stage 3 test results undermined the claim that academies can rapidly boost achievement in the inner city.  The first academies have been in existence since September 2002 yet ‘nine out of eleven featured among the bottom 200 schools … the results in maths, science and English will raise further questions about the academy programme, which has already been attacked for diverting resources away from other schools and placing too much power in the hands of private sponsors’ (TES, 18.03.05).  A Price Waterhouse Cooper’s report in June revealed that in many academies exam results and pupil behaviour have not improved at all.


More faith schools?

Many academies are sponsored by Christian trusts, increasing the proportion of faith-based schools in the UK.  Even more sinister is the involvement of fundamentalist Christian sects such as the Emmanuel Schools Foundation led by Peter Vardy which is behind academies in Middlesbrough and Gateshead.  Vardy believes that evolution is only a theory and the curriculum in his schools gives equal weight to creationism.


Business sponsorship for academies means that in exchange for the relatively small sum of £2 million sponsors take over a brand new school, declare whatever working conditions they like, appoint the majority of the governing body and teach whatever curriculum they want.  However, proposals for an academy in Blackburn, Lancashire, have run into trouble.  The sponsor for the planned academy in the Darwen township was due to be Ron Aldridge, chief executive of Capita.  However, in 2001 Capita won a £150 million, 15-year contract with Blackburn with Darwen council to provide council services.  Even the government recognises a potential conflict of interest in Capita sponsoring an academy in the area, and the deal may not go  through.



Campaign of opposition

The campaign against academies is already growing:

  • Brent: On 15th March over 200 people attended a meeting sponsored by all teacher unions in Brent to protest against proposals to build an academy on a local sports ground.  Christine Blower, NUT Deputy General Secretary argued that the 2003 Price Waterhouse report was buried ‘because it was highly critical of the government’s academy project’.

  • 253 parents have formed an action group on the Isle of Sheppey to complain that the island’s only secondary is being transformed into a Church academy. 

  • Parents and activists in the Doncaster area have defeated a proposal for an academy in Thorne.  See the website



Opposition is Growing


Opposition to academies was strengthened at the Easter 2005 NUT Conference, where a resolution was passed unanimously declaring that academies are a form of privatisation, are unaccountable to the public and are a threat to trade unionism.  Moving the motion Jane Nellist of Coventry NUT linked academies to the privatisation of schools, arguing: ’We need to say ‘No to privatisation.  No PFI.’  Let’s re-nationalise education!’


Academies are a threat to the curriculum, to secular education, to democratic local government and to teacher trade unionism.  They are not even a quick fix for the educational under-achievement plaguing Britain’s inner cities.  To solve this requires the kind of regeneration of working class communities – in employment, in health, and welfare – which a Labour government tied to big business and expenditure cuts cannot deliver.



June 2005


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