Academies: time for local action

Our Constituency Labour Party has issued a press release on reports that twenty four Bromley schools are reported to be seeking academy status.

Now, as I’ve said before, there is a difference between schools expressing an interest  and their actually wanting to convert. However, this is still a worrying development, especially since one school (Darrick Wood, our family’s nearest comprehensive) has already received “agreement in principle” from the Department for Education.

Given the government’s desire to rush as many schools as possible into academy status over the summer holidays (giving little or no time for consulting with parents), there is clearly an urgent need for local action. To that end, I’ve drafted a motion for our CLP meeting on Wednesday, as set out below.

I’m posting this (a) so people can make any suggestions for improvement (as a new member, I’m not even 100% sure of the appropriate form for the motion), and (b) in case it is useful for members of other CLPs facing similar situations. It’s perhaps regrettable that, while Ed Balls has been doing great work opposing Michael Gove at Westminster, I’m not sure the Labour Party has done much to produce materials to help constituency parties take the local action that is now urgently needed.

Draft motion

This Constituency Labour Party,

NOTING:

(a) that twenty-four schools in the London Borough of Bromley are reported to be considering Academy status for the academic year beginning September 2010, with one school (Darrick Wood) reportedly having secured “agreement in principle” from the Department for Education;

(b) that the government’s Academy programme is a rushed, divisive and ideologically-motivated experiment on children’s education;

(c) that Academy status is likely to weaken or even sever the strong and positive links that most schools in the Borough have with their local communities;

(d) that current boards of governors in schools considering Academy status were elected before the current proposals and hence have no mandate to vote for a change in status; and

(e) that the government is reporting requests for information from undecided schools as positive expressions of interest in Academy status, misleading schools and parents as to the popularity of the Academy programme,

RESOLVES:

(1) To thank the Secretary of the CLP for the press release issued by the CLP over the weekend, headed “Bromley ‘academy’ schools buying a pig in a poke”.

(2) To ask the Secretary of the CLP to write to those schools within the Orpington constituency that are reported to be considering Academy status:

(i) expressing the high regard in which their work is held by members of the local community, and how that community link is assisted by the democratic oversight of education through the local education authority;

(ii) urging each school not to set aside or endanger that democratic link with the community;

(iii) emphasising the need for full consultation with parents and other members of the community before making such a decision, which should therefore not be rushed through over the summer holidays; and

(iv) calling on each school not to proceed further with seeking Academy status until it has had the opportunity for such consultation and careful consideration, and until parent-governors have been elected who can claim a mandate for representing parents in relation to this issue.

(3) To encourage members of the Orpington CLP, in particular those who are parents of children at the affected schools or who work at those schools, to write to their headteachers in similar terms to those set out above.

(4) To ask the Labour Party, as a matter of the utmost urgency, to develop and circulate materials and strategies to assist parents, councillors, teachers and local CLPs in organising opposition to attempts to rush schools through the Academy process over the summer.

This Constituency Labour Party,

NOTING:

(a) that twenty-four schools in the London Borough of Bromley are reported to be considering Academy status for the academic year beginning September 2010, with one school (Darrick Wood) reportedly having secured “agreement in principle” from the Department for Education;

(b) that the government’s Academy programme is a rushed, divisive and ideologically-motivated experiment on children’s education;

(c) that Academy status is likely to weaken or even sever the strong and positive links that most schools in the Borough have with their local communities;

(d) that current boards of governors in schools considering Academy status were elected before the current proposals and hence have no mandate to vote for a change in status; and

(e) that the government is reporting requests for information from undecided schools as positive expressions of interest in Academy status, misleading schools and parents as to the popularity of the Academy programme,

RESOLVES:

(1) To thank the Secretary of the CLP for the press release issued by the CLP over the weekend, headed “Bromley ‘academy’ schools buying a pig in a poke”.

(2) To ask the Secretary of the CLP to write to those schools within the Orpington constituency that are reported to be considering Academy status:

(i) expressing the high regard in which their work is held by members of the local community, and how that community link is assisted by the democratic oversight of education through the local education authority;

(ii) urging each school not to set aside or endanger that democratic link with the community;

(iii) emphasising the need for full consultation with parents and other members of the community before making such a decision, which should therefore not be rushed through over the summer holidays; and

(iv) calling on each school not to proceed further with seeking Academy status until it has had the opportunity for such consultation and careful consideration, and until parent-governors have been elected who can claim a mandate for representing parents in relation to this issue.

(3) To encourage members of the Orpington CLP, in particular those who are parents of children at the affected schools or who work at those schools, to write to their headteachers in similar terms to those set out above.

(4) To ask the Labour Party, as a matter of the utmost urgency, to develop and circulate materials and strategies to assist parents, councillors, teachers and local CLPs in organising opposition to attempts to rush schools through the Academy process over the summer.

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