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York Labour continues fight against forced academisation

Labour says it will step up its opposition to the Tory Government plans to make every school in England an academy, following inclusion of the ‘Education for All’ Bill in this week’s Queen’s speech.
The details of the speech this week confirmed that full academisation remains the government’s goal.
Labour’s education spokesperson, Coun. Stuart Barnes explained why Labour in York is continuing to fight the plans:
“A significant number of local residents have made representations to the Labour party in York to stress their concerns about schools becoming academies. Concerns have included the use of unqualified teachers and losing a consistent approach to supporting children with emotional wellbeing and special educational needs.
“We also share the concerns that parents have about the way that schools will allocate places to pupils in future. The current system for school applications in York is consistent and clearly understood.
“In future, academies could decide to allocate places selectively based on the academic ability of children so that they only take the brightest and best as a means of improving their results rather than having an admissions system that is fair to all York pupils”.
Many schools have either become academies or are considering doing so but research suggests that whether schools are struggling or not, academisation doesn’t guarantee improved standards. 
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of the Schools’ Inspector Ofsted, recently said that he had “great concern” about large multi-academy trusts, with many developing “the same weaknesses” as the worst performing local authority schools. Currently the performance of York’s schools places City of York Council high up in the list of best performing local authorities.
And Coun. Barnes says Labour is working with colleagues from across Yorkshire and beyond to look at options for alternative models to those involving commercial interests, like KPMG (see notes to editors). One option could be for the city to develop a co-operative trust to ensure schools have an alternative to being forced down the more commercial multi-academy route. He said:
“The large MAT chains threat looms large for many of our schools as the Conservative Government continues its plans to privatise our schools, so local politicians, education professionals and the public need to maintain their opposition to forced academisation.  We genuinely believe in local decision making and in community involvement in determining our schools’ futures, so we urge people to have their say before it’s too late”.
Labour Councillors will continue to explore options before submitting a motion to July’s Full Council meeting of all councillors which would require the Council’s officers to conduct a more detailed assessment of options for the possible establishment of a Co-operative Academies Trust in the city.
Coun. Barnes said:
“York Labour Councillors will be urging all political parties in the city to work with us on these proposals to develop cross party support for this positive alternative to the future threat of private commercial MAT takeovers”.

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