Crunch talks held over academies in Lancaster and Morecambe

The meeting will be held at Lancaster Town Hall

The meeting will be held at Lancaster Town Hall

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An emergency public meeting is being held in Lancaster to discuss the future of schools.

Teachers, staff and parents have spoken out of over the government’s plans to turn all schools in England into academies by 2022.

Academies are publicly funded schools which don’t have to follow the national curriculum, can set their own term times and get money direct from the government rather than the local council.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that by 2020 all schools in England should be converted into academies with most being committed to converting by 2022.

Sam Ud-din, Lancashire National Union of Teachers (NUT) division secretary, has said “academisation” across the district will lead to chaos.

He said: “An academy is a method by government to privatise education. If you have children in primary school and secondary schools and you are a teacher, and all schools can set their own holidays, it will be complete chaos, the lack of national curriculum, testing, it will be chaos.

“The government should be dealing with the real issues, including a growing teacher shortage, lack of pupil places, there are children across the country who are crammed into classrooms.”

Alison Hickson, chair of Lancaster and Morecambe Head Teachers cluster, who has helped organise the meeting at Lancaster Town Hall, feels staff have not had any consultation.

She said: “Schools are being forced to take on academy status, we had an emergency meeting with 15 head teachers and we decided to hold another meeting to get the message across as some parents just don’t know what this will mean. We don’t think academy status gives us more freedom, it is more restrictive.”

In Lancashire there are currently 28 academies and recently Heysham High School took on academy status.

One parent has spoken out over Heysham High’s transformation.

Lisa Brads said: “This could lead to a decline in educational standards as the focus for ‘managers’ moves to negotiations instead of teaching and learning.

“There is no evidence that becoming an academy is beneficial to teaching and learning, the majority of academies have failed. I have never had anything negative to say about Heysham High but it would’ve been nice to have been informed of this.”

The meeting on Thursday April 28 will welcome talks from local teachers, head teachers, NUT members, Lancaster MP Cat Smith, children’s author Alan Gibbons and parents.

NUT and other committees feel they have received a lot of support from Lancaster MP Cat Smith but less via Morecambe MP David Morris.

Mr Morris said: “The budget announcements on education combat two of the highest complaints I receive from head teachers when I visit schools. One, that funding for schools is not fair across the country and two, that teachers do not have enough power over the running of their school and are curtailed by arbitrary targets from the local authority. This budget changes that and academies will deliver better results for all children through empowering teachers and leaders with better leadership structures which work and not for a template across the county.” The meeting is open to all and will begin at 6.30pm.