Education International
Education International

UK: Education Bill a further step towards school privatisation, trade unions say

published 10 June 2015 updated 15 June 2015

Teacher unions in the UK are strongly criticising the Government’s Education Bill that seeks to convert 1,000 so-called ‘failing’ schools to academy status and remove “bureaucratic and legal loopholes.”

NUT: An impractical and irrational pledge

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) affiliated to Education International (EI) and President of the EI European Region, denounced the Bill as representing another push towards academisation, which ultimately means privatisation, “with an additional intention to silence critics, including parents and teachers as well as elected local councillors and the communities which schools serve.”

She also said the Bill’s proposals are “a crude attack on state comprehensive education and a further step towards full school privatisation.”

A pledge to convert ‘up to 1,000’ schools is “as irrational as it is impractical”, she noted, adding that head teachers being already in short supply, the promise to lay off more of them will simply exacerbate the problem.

The Government justifies this extended and accelerated privatisation of our school system by claiming that it cares about standards, she said, explain that however, there is now a mountain of evidence which shows that there is no academy effect on standards in schools.

NASUWT:  Not the way to raise education standards

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), also an EI member organisation, echoed Blower’s position by explaining:

“Ensuring that all children and young people receive their entitlement to the highest standards of education should be at the heart of any Education Bill. However, it is clear that through this Bill the Government is determined to continue with its obsessive focus on structural change, despite clear evidence that this does not raise standards.”

In addition, she highlighted, this legislation threatening with sacking head teachers will do nothing to raise standards, as it will simply fuel the recruitment and retention crisis.

She went on to say that perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of the Bill is the provision which appears to be a direct attack on the fundamental right of parents to have a say in the type of education they want for their child: “Abusing the legislative process to seek to gag critics and stifle opposition is a chilling theme running through far too many of this Government's legislative plans and we all should be concerned when Governments abuse their power to attack fundamental rights and freedoms.”