Parent protest group still ‘cautious’ over new academies announcement

Hundreds of angry and concerned parents, teachers and students staged a protest following the governments proposal to force all Derbyshire schools, including in Matlock, to become academies.
Hundreds of angry and concerned parents, teachers and students staged a protest following the governments proposal to force all Derbyshire schools, including in Matlock, to become academies.

Concerned parents have welcomed the announcement that all Derbyshire schools, including in Matlock, will no longer be forced to become academies with “caution”.

Parent-led group, Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-academies, says it still “fears” that controversial plans to force failing schools to academise will still go ahead in the future.

It follows an announcement from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan last week who said the u-turn showed that the Government was “listening”.

Academies are independent, state-funded schools, overseen by a not-for-profit trust and are usually part of a chain.

“We are glad to see that good and outstanding schools in good local authorities will now be given the choice whether to stay as a LA school or opt for academy status,” Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-academies said.

“However we do fear for ‘failing’ schools who will still be forced to academise.

“We will not give up our fight to ensure pupils in England as a whole and Derbyshire locally are treated fairly.”

The controversial plans, announced in the budget, intended to turn all schools into academies by 2022.

Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-academies held a protest last month which was attended by hundreds of parents, teachers and students objecting to the proposals.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary at the National Union of Teachers, said it is “quite clear” that the Government intends to press ahead with the academy programme and that the “chaotic” and “confused” curriculum had forced teachers out in their “droves”.

He said: “Nicky Morgan already has powers to convert ‘inadequate’, and ‘coasting’ schools and any schools with a warning notice. She controls the definition of coasting schools and will use this year’s Key Stage 2 SATs results as part of that definition.

“She is also taking new powers to force wholescale conversions in local authorities that she says are under-performing and in those where she says a critical mass of schools have already converted. In addition the funding cuts she is carrying through will so denude local authority services that some schools may feel they have less reason to stay with the LA.”