Academy outrage as consultation sparks fears of ‘privatising’ Newham schools

PUBLISHED: 16:46 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:12 19 February 2015

An NUT protest outside Rokeby School against plans to turn three Newham schools into a multi-academy trust

An NUT protest outside Rokeby School against plans to turn three Newham schools into a multi-academy trust


Governing bodies and members of Newham’s NUT teaching union have clashed over proposals to turn three schools into a multi-academy trust (MAT).

Critics fear a consultation on a proposal to convert Lister, Rokeby and Sarah Bonnell to academy status is a major step towards putting profit-making at the heart of the state school system.

Miriam Scharf, who is on the committee of the Newham branch of the NUT, said: “It’s unfair this very small number of people feel they can take the education service out of local authority accountability and hand it over to an unaccountable academy trust.

“It’s very undemocratic. It will affect students and the community. They’re privatising education and it’s wrong.”

In an MAT there’s a chief executive officer rather than a headteacher and members are akin to shareholders of a company.

Miriam added: “The academy would buy in services from private companies who have to make a profit which is something the local authority doesn’t have to do.”

The governing bodies of the three schools will run a seven week consultation with staff, parents, students, unions and the community until March 27.

They will then consider a report in April before deciding whether to proceed further with the proposed partnership.

In a statement the chairs of governors of the three schools said jointly: “We want our schools to continue to provide an outstanding education for the young people of Newham in an increasingly challenging educational landscape.

“We are also committed to our schools being fully inclusive, truly comprehensive and locally accountable.

“The proposed partnership would seem to support these goals but we want to hear what our school communities think about the idea.”

But Miriam said the system isn’t “transparent or inclusive,” adding: “In our experience the consultation never leads to any other decision being made than that already decided. The MAT applications always seems to succeed.”

A Newham council spokesman, said: “It is for these schools to decide how best to raise educational standards for their pupils and the council is keen to work with them on this, as well as avoiding any disruption to the education of pupils and any inconvenience for parents.”

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