AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 309
AND HAND MORE OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS OVER TO CORPORATE
SPONSORS: RELIGIOUS OR OTHERWISE?
Education to the highest standard should be available for every Australian child. The only system which has this as its objective is the free, secular and universal public system. If this was a genuine democracy, Australian political representatives should give priority to the provision of such a system.
But Australian politicians have abdicated responsibility, ownership and control of schools for a third of Australian children to the private religious sector – at taxpayers’ expense. Hence the giving of billions of dollars to the private sector and the unquestioning myth about its managerial superiority for the last forty years. In this our politicians are in part following the policy of the Blair and Brown governments in the UK, the home of an established church, league tables, failed schools, trust schools and corporate academies. Such policies have reduced education from a common good to a commodity.
Some of the major policy advisers of Julia Gillard are British imports.
Supporters of public education should be asking whether the long term agenda of using leagues tables as a performance measuring stick, will be the production of ‘failed’ public schools to be handed over to the religious and corporate sector.
Although this has been occurring in the
The British Schools Secretary Ed Balls has moved to drop a £2m entry fee for new sponsors to run academies. It is believed that this will prompt a massive expansion of the scheme,
The announcement that the £2m sponsorship is to be scrapped drew criticisms from teaching unions, which are vehemently anti-academy. One said it was a mark of the desperation of ministers to attract new sponsors in the recession and another warned that the scheme could now be expanding too quickly, risking the stability of schools.
Speaking on a visit with Brown to open the
"In the early period of academies, the £2m commitment from sponsors was an important part of showing that they were serious. Two years ago we removed that entry fee for universities, further education colleges and schools – and we've now had 55 universities and 28 further education groups come forward to sponsor academies.
"I don't think the money should be the first qualification to run a school. We will continue to encourage people to set up endowment funds when they sponsor a school. That will be one way of showing a commitment.
"There was a view of academies that we were basically setting up grant-maintained schools. I think that is a totally misreading of what we're doing. It was never just about the freedoms schools get, but the injection of a different educational DNA and new leadership."
He rejected accusations from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers that the expansion from 200 to 400 academies would be moving it too quickly.
Balls said there would be a new vetting system for new sponsors to look into their track record in running educational programmes, answering criticisms that some sponsors have been allowed to run schools without the requisite experience. "We will consult on the way to vet sponsors coming forward with the right experience and educational know-how to become sponsors," he said.
Chris Keates, head of the teaching union the Nasuwt, said: "There is no evidence to demonstrate that academies do any better or worse than the generality of schools, or that handing over governance and management and previously public assets to sponsors makes any material difference to the standard of education."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It's a sign of desperation in terms of the number of sponsors who are prepared to be involved in running schools. £2m just isn't there for the taking in these lean times. The changes Ed has made are an admission that all the things they had in the first place weren't a good idea."
DOGS note that the scrapping of the two million pounds sponsorship fee for running schools will make it easier for small religious sects to take up the offer to control schools according to their own particular beliefs.
DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION AND STOP STATE AID TO PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS.
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