The following leaflet was devised to use in opposition to the proposed academy conversion of Fairfield Primary School, Stapleford, January 2013.
“Why shouldn’t my school become an academy?
You will hear many reasons FOR: here are some AGAINST.
What’s in it for me?
All too often the reason a school converts to an academy is MONEY. Somebody will have calculated how much more the school will get. But will it really be better off? The school will get its share of the Local Authority money but will have to pay for all the things the LA supplies, from payroll services to insurance and legal support. The school might receive a bit more money but there are many extra costs and risks.
What do I lose?
You might think the Local Authority is useless and interfering. Actually, LAs haven’t had much say in what schools can do for a long time: they certainly don’t ‘control’ them. Instead, they provide support and a ‘safety net’ if things go wrong. So your school would lose the potential support and help the Local Authority could provide. Nobody else will provide that, unless you pay them.
You will also lose the safeguards a Local Authority and elected representatives provide. What happens if the Head or Governors start doing things you don’t agree with? You can’t ring up the education office at the council; you’ll have to appeal to the Education Secretary in London.
Who will be running my school?
The Head and Governors, or, possibly, an ‘educational trust’ or maybe an ‘edubusiness’. There are chains of academies growing up, just like privatised local authorities, aiming to make money out of education. Maybe your school isn’t going to start like that but who knows in the future? Once it has become an academy, the governors could decide to become part of one of these chains – and you won’t have a say in whether they do or not.
How much do you know about the George Spencer Trust? Who runs it? How can you influence it? Do you realise they are considering becoming an “an all-through school for 3-18” (George Spencer School Governors minutes, November 2012)? How will this affect Fairfield?
Are the teachers in favour of the school becoming an academy?
Ask them: like most of us, they probably don’t want to tell their ‘boss’ what they really think. Most teachers and their associations are against academisation because they can see the harm it could do to education as well as the threat to their hours and working conditions.
There may be no plans to change things at the moment but what happens in the future? Becoming an academy is a once-and-for-all move: is it fair for you and all the other current parents, and the present head and governors, to take the school into the unknown, committing those in the future to who-knows-what?
What will be the effect in the local community?
What could be the effect on William Lilley School? Nobody really knows how all this could pan out.
But the school will be better, won’t it?
There is absolutely no guarantee that becoming an academy makes a school better. A report by an independent group headed by an ex-OFSTED chief, recently said, “the process of academisation is, of itself, no panacea” (Academies Commission, January 2013). If the school is already ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, with the right head and staff, and the support of parents and the LA, it can remain so and develop to even greater heights. Becoming an academy won’t make any difference to that, so why risk all the upheaval and potential problems?
Published by ‘Hands Off Notts Schools’, a group of parents, councillors and teachers campaigning against academies and free schools in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area, as part of the Anti-Academies Alliance.
Visit our website at – http://nottsantiacademies.org where you can read further arguments and keep up to date with the many issues and developments that are taking place with academies. Or you can email email@example.com, follow us on Twitter at @Notts_Schools or find Notts Anti Academies Alliance on Facebook.”