>Gove’s "Rocket Booster" Academy Bill

Stills, video, print (c) Jason N. Parkinson 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday 26 May 2010: On the day the Con-Dem coalition Academy Education Bill was passed I interviewed Alasdair Smith, the National Secretary for the Anti Academies Alliance.

Conservative Education Minister Michael Gove has put “rocket boosters” under Labour’s Academisation school program, as well as authorising the Free Schools policy. Both policies are perceived by all three major teaching unions as full-blown privatisation of the UK state education system.

2000 schools look set to gain Academy status, or “freedoms” as Gove has called it. Those freedoms, for one thing, allow private school sponsors to take control of staff wages and working conditions away from local authorities or national averages, meaning wages could go down as well as up and work hours could also increase.

In a roller coaster week for UK education policy, first Gove passed the bill that allowed all schools classed “outstanding” by Ofsted to apply for Academy status. This comes on top of existing Labour policy that forces failing schools to either close or become an Academy.

Three days later Gove passed a bill to make those very same “outstanding” schools about to become Academies exempt from Ofsted inspections, taking away scrutiny and accountability should those private education providers not succeed in their role.

This enhanced with current Freedom of Information exemption makes the private sponsors wholly unaccountable to the UK tax-payer, who will continue to pay for the privately-run schools.

Investigation will be left solely to whistleblowers, as has been seen in the two most recent bonus and expense scandals in the education system.

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(c) Jason N. Parkinson 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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