Academies – the real agenda

classroom07:40 Thursday 17th March 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you think this is a good thing that every school is going to become an academy?
JON DUVEEN: I don’t think it’s really going to make much difference. The Government hasn’t made the case that academies improve the education of our children. In fact the evidence points in the opposite direction. So I don’t think this is going to be the solution to the Government’s problems in education.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what kind of evidence are you talking about, about how well kids do in academies or local authority schools?

JON DUVEEN: I think when you look at Ofsted reports, I think there is evidence that shows that community schools, those run through the local education authority, have a better chance of coming up good or outstanding than do academy schools. So if that’s the criteria the Government chooses to use, academies have a long way to go yet.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So if that’s the case,. why are they doing it?
JON DUVEEN: I think it’s a bit of a distraction. Education at the moment and schools in particular face a lot of difficulties. The recruitment of teachers is very very difficult, and in areas like Fenland it’s becoming increasingly impossible to get proper staffing of schools. You’ve got a crisis in the school places, especially for primary schools, but that will filter through to secondary schools soon. And really no great ideas how you resolve those. because if you’re planning as the Government is to really almost abolish local authorities, then how do you deal with those issues at a local level? You’re not telling me that the Government, the DofE, is going to be able to manage 20,000 schools in the same way that the local authority can relate to schools. That’s the problem.
DOTTY MCLEOD: But I mean you can’t tell me .. you can’t tell me that George Osborne is such a cynical politician that he has decided to make a complete sea change to every school in the country by the year 2022 just as a kind of political sleight of hand. I mean that’s just .. that’s just not true is it? It’s not fair. So he must think that there is some good to become of this.
JON DUVEEN: I think he’s looking towards steps towards privatising education. And so that companies can begin to make a profit from the education of our children.
DOTTY MCLEOD: But all of the Trusts that run academies at the moment, they’re run as charitable organisations. They’re not companies.
JON DUVEEN: They are not allowed to make profits from the education process at the moment. But there are one or two companies that have come over from places like Sweden, which in Swden run for profit education systems. And at the moment they’re running schools in various parts of th country, waiting for this change in England.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And you really think that that will happen.
JON DUVEEN: I think that we are on that trajectory now. When it comes, I don’t know. I can’t predict. I don’t have a crystal ball to be able to do that. But that’s what it appears to be to me. We’re on the move to getting privatisation of schools through this academisation process.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK Jon. Well try not to worry too much. It might never happen. Jon Duveen there, who’s the Secretary of the Cambridgeshire National Union of Teachers. Thank you very much.