Hundreds of angry and concerned parents, teachers and students staged a protest following the government’s proposal to force all Derbyshire schools, including in Matlock, to become academies.
Organised by the parent-led group, Matlock & Derbyshire Anti-academies, the rally took place in Hall Leys Park, Matlock.
If the plans are to go ahead, it would mean schools across the county would no longer be governed by Derbyshire County Council and would become independent, state-funded schools.
Co-founder of the parents group, Sarah Bradnock, said: “We are delighted with the turnout today. I think this really shows how the government’s schools policy has upset a lot of people in Derbyshire and beyond. To have so much backing from parents especially is really important to our cause.
“Academies are particularly bad news for our small primary schools that are at risk of being swallowed up into large, unaccountable, distant academy trusts while children with difficulties risk educational and social exclusion by these schools who can effectively choose who they admit.”
Derbyshire County Council has said the government’s new proposed compulsory academy programme could have a negative impact on schoolchildren.
However, supporters say academies improve standards and allow teachers to have more freedom away from the National Curriculum.
The protest in Matlock took place on Saturday.
“Parents are also concerned about the use of unqualified teachers and the effect that forced academisation of any school has on the morale of staff and parents alike, as there is no evidence to suggest that becoming an academy improves conditions or standards,” Sarah added.
Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Jim Coyle, said: “There’s no appetite for it in Derbyshire and we will do all we can to support parents and schools opposing the move.”