No to sponsored schools

Teaching reps, teaching union reps and council leader Simon Blackburn at a public meeting at St Kentigerns Parish Centre
Teaching reps, teaching union reps and council leader Simon Blackburn at a public meeting at St Kentigerns Parish Centre

PRIVATE companies will not make profit from Fylde coast schools.

That was the message from Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn as he launched a blistering attack on the Government’s controversial academy scheme.

Coun Blackburn was invited to speak at a public meeting on Thursday night hosted by local representatives from the National Union Of Teachers (NUT).

Academy status means the school opts to come out of local authority control and is instead directly funded by the Government.

It also gives greater freedom over the curriculum and allows schools to set staff pay, terms and conditions.

But Simon Blackburn told the meeting the scheme could “disrupt solidarity and a sense of belonging in state schools” saying the education system was “under attack”.

He said: “I want to draw a very clear line in Blackpool’s sand about academies.

“We will campaign alongside any staff or parent group who do not want to become academies and remain in the community working with other Blackpool schools.

“There will be no forcing schools to become academies against their will.

“We will also not accept private investment into Blackpool schools, if they intend to become academies, I will expect them to look for public sector sponsors.

“It seems if you have a good Ofsted and hold any amount of consultation, you can just become academies.

“All I will say is, we will be watching very closely.”

Two schools on the Fylde coast have already been granted academy status, Hambleton Primary School and Hodgson High School, Poulton.

Garstang High School is also pursuing plans to convert and Westcliff Primary School and Montgomery High School are also consulting.

Education secretary Michael Gove says the scheme will bring “higher standards all round”.

But Keith Bradley, a member of the Anti-Academy Alliance who also spoke at the meeting, said schools were being lured into the scheme by promises of large sums of money which are proving irresistible in the current financial climate.

He warned of large insurance bills for schools outside local authorities and the threat of schools being taken over by large corporate chains like Carphone Warehouse, who sponsor Fulwood Academy in Preston.