Now is the time for all those that believe primary schools are best kept under local democratic control to take action.
Please email or write to your MP asking them to defend the present position and to stop the government forcing all schools to become nationally controlled academies.
If you go to church this weekend, lobby your priest, vicar, minister or other faith leader, since the Churches, and to a much lesser extent other faiths, have a large interest in primary schools. Contact your local councillor and find out their views.
This is not a new campaign on my part to keep primary schools under local democratic control. Before the budget announcement I wrote on this blog about the BBC announcement foreshadowing the nationalisation of all schools that:
The interesting question is whether there is enough unity in the Conservative Party at Westminster to agree to ditch their chums in local government and fully nationalise the school system. Local government won’t enjoy being left with schools places, annual admissions and transport plus, presumably, special needs.
As I have pointed out in previous posts it is difficult to see how a fully academy structure built around MATs can save the government money to spend on the front-line. It is also an open question whether there is enough leadership capacity to staff such a system. I predicted this outcome way back in a post in February 2013https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2013/02/ when I wrote that:
“a National School Service is quietly emerging, with Whitehall connecting directly to schools. Localism it may be, but not democratically elected localism. A national funding formula, administered by schools where the Secretary of State determines who will be able to be a governor, and whether or not new schools are needed, and who will operate them, seems more like a NHS model than a local school system.”
So, I welcome the support of a number of Tory local cabinet members from across the country for the view that local authorities should still to decide how local education works and retain a general oversight of education, rather than transferring such powers to Westminster; especially for primary schools.
I heard Melinda Tilley, the Tory cabinet member for Education in Oxfordshire, where I have been a Lib Dem county councillor since May 2103, calling the government’s move to academisation a ‘diktat’. This contrast sharply with the silence from Labour on the issue, but then it was Labour that invented the academy programme.
Primary schools are an essential part of local communities, some face immense challenges in serving those communities, and not all may achieve their best every year for a whole host of reasons. There will always be a need for a school improvement service, and primary schools have worked in partnerships for years before governments at Westminster decided a free for all market approach was better than cooperation. The fact that the market approach failed wasn’t the fault of local authorities; nationalisation isn’t the answer.