West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has told Education Ministers to stop trying to bully and bribe schools into becoming academies.
MP Rosie used a Parliamentary debate to challenge Education Ministers and their tactics trying to force Lancashire schools to convert to academies.
Starting in July 2012 the Department for Education has waged war on schools claiming 32 schools in the county, including four in West Lancashire, were underperforming and that they would be forced to become academies. In November the Education Secretary claimed Lancashire County Council was a ‘failing authority’ as the Local Education Authority. He also wrote to MPs asking them to encourage local schools to become academies.
This is despite 69% of schools in Lancashire improving performance compared to the national average of 29%.
In Lancashire just 4 of the 484 schools chose to become academies with a further three being forced down this route. Now there are reports that brokers, being paid £700 a day, are visiting head teachers offering inducements of £40,000 plus £25,000 for legal costs if they convert their school to an academy.
During the speech Rosie attacked the Education Secretary for his “absolutism on academies” and claimed the academies programme appears to be an “ideological crusade”
Rosie gave her backing to the schools that have steadfastly refused the idea of becoming an academy.
In her closing remarks MP Rosie directed her attack on Education Ministers and their continued claims that the Academies programme is aimed at improving under-performing schools. Rosie said
“My message to the Minister is that nobody believes her. As each day passes, fewer and fewer people believe her. For most schools – certainly in Lancashire – the answer to her academies is still a resounding no. I implore you to please stop bullying, stop the bribery and get back to supporting all schools and all children.”
Speaking after the debate MP Rosie said:
“It seems the Education Secretary will stop at nothing to get his way for all schools to become academies. He is allowing a situation to be manufactured in which we are told academies will help underperforming schools yet many of the schools being targeted are not underperforming at all. In fact they are improving schools.
“Failure and underperformance in our schools cannot and should not be tolerated. At the same time, nor should we tolerate sustained and cynical denigration of the hard work of our schools and school children simply because they refuse to become academies.
Throughout this process the Department for Education’s behaviour has been deplorable. It seems the ideological priorities of the Education Secretary override the best interests of our school children; and the opinions of teachers, governors and parents about the type of school they believe will best meet the children’s needs.
“We need an education system that supports all schools and supports all children.”