A FORMER Blackpool journalist who learnt her trade as a Gazette reporter has launched a powerful documentary investigating academies.
Rhonda Evans, who worked on The Gazette before moving into broadcast journalism, focuses on the efforts of parents desperate not to see their children’s school becoming a forced academy.
Mrs Evans, said she hopes the film, The Parents, The Politician and the Carpet Bagger, will be of interest in her old stomping ground as more schools in the resort enter consultation on becoming academies – which are schools run free from Local Authority control.
She said: “The film is about how Michael Gove is trying to make primary schools become academies. At the school in the film, teachers and parents kicked up a fuss. I hope the outcome of the film will be to spark some debate.”
The film follows parents and teachers from Downhills School in Tottenham, which government ministers forced to become part of carpet businessman Lord Harris’s academy chain, sponsored by Carpet Right.
Academies are aimed at giving governors and headteachers greater say on the curriculum and how they spend their money, which is still allocated by the Department for Education.
But Mrs Evans said the 50-minute film uses secret footage and email correspondence, sourced through Freedom of Information requests, to reveal how local authorities and headteachers are being bullied into becoming academies.
She said: “The film challenges a number of misconceptions about the education system, in particular that academies outperform non-academies, which they don’t.
“It is a complex issue but it’s not that complex that people can’t understand it, but I think it’s in a lot of people’s interests to not explain it.”
The Parents, The Politician and the Carpet Bagger can be viewed from February 5 by visiting www.academiesandlies.org.uk