After the May election, Birmingham councillors intend to embark on an organised campaign with the unions, media and the Local Government Association (LGA) to mobilise opposition against the White Paper’s key policy: total academisation. The decision follows a debate at the March Council meeting in which both Labour and Lib Dem councillors spoke in favour of a motion brought by Cllr Brigid Jones to oppose elements of the White Paper, including forcing schools to become academies and the removal of parents from governing bodies. Watch the debate here.
News reported at the end of March revealed local academy malpractice – complex and secretive financial dealings.
The Education Funding Agency, which oversees education spending for the Government, launched an investigation after it received claims from a whistleblower that what it calls “an additional second salary” was paid to Mr Nolan. It was established that the Perry Beeches academy Trust paid nearly £1.3 million to a business which then paid a “second salary” to Liam Nolan, Headmaster of Perry Beeches school. The payments which were made to the Accounting Officer, through Nexus and then Liam Nolan Ltd, for CEO services were not disclosed in the 2013/14 financial statements.
The NUT treasurer Ian Murch said schools should be seen as a “public service and not a business opportunity”.
Birmingham CASE has published the Labour councillors’ national statement. An extract:
“It’s astonishing that, at a time of major cuts to school budgets, the Government would propose spending hundreds of millions turning all schools into academies when there is not a shred of evidence that it will help improve education standards.
“Over 80% of maintained schools have been rated good or excellent by Ofsted, while three times as many councils perform above the national average in terms of progress made by students than the largest academy chains. When a school is struggling, we must take action – but converting every school to an academy, without giving parents a say, is not the answer.
On the website of the Campaign for State Education (CASE), member Chris Dunne, retired headteacher offers a persuasive closing argument:
Almost no one seems to be aware that of the 50 most developed countries in the world only one other European country (Finland) and four in Southeast Asia outperform this country in overall educational attainment, and none of them have privatised their schools in the way this legislation will promote. On the contrary, they are all fiercely protective of a national system of education.