Viewpoint: Fighting back against academisation

  • Paul Donovan

Paul Donovan

Paul Donovan

Teaching is a noble profession. I come from a family of teachers. The work of teachers in educating the young and not so young is vital. If we achieve anything in this life it must surely be to be more knowledgeable and informed about its workings than when we came in.

Teaching has always been a self-less profession, with those involved giving far more in unpaid time than would be expected in other walks of life. Teachers would always give that bit more for the kids. And it was appreciated by children and parents alike. There are a large number of people who can say down the years that this or that teacher made a huge difference to their lives.

So why today do we treat teachers so badly?

I guess it all started with Thatcherism, with its simplistic private, good public bad approach to every walk of life. The belief that everything works better run like or by business. So schools become reduced to exam factories, running conveyor belts of children, concerned only with turning out compliant rather than questioning citizens.

Many good teachers over the years have kicked against this very limited take on the role of education. They have endeavoured to embrace the widest concept of education and learning- seeking to open eyes and broaden the pupil's horizons.

The arrival of academisation really marked a step up in the ascent of the role of business in the education sphere. So businesses came to run schools.

Now, a rudimentary bit of education should make clear to any student (or politician ) that business does not get involved in anything other than to make a profit. This applies, whether the subject is the education, the health service or a plethora of other public services. The common good has very little role to play for the business.

So the academy model has been used by businesses across the country to get into education and very nicely have many of them done out of it. The schools are taken out of local authority regulation and handed over to business. This often sees the teachers treated as commodities to be disposed of at will. Those at the top of academy trusts reward themselves handsomely, often to the detriment of the teaching staff.

The panacea that is offered to schools, tempted to convert to academies, often results in the education being provided declining. There have been countless cases of fraud and nepotism uncovered, with those in charge rewarding themselves to the cost of society.

BBC's Panorama has done great work in uncovering what goes on under the veil of academisation, including cheating on exams.

As with so many areas of life, once proper regulation is removed the possibility for corruption to flourish abounds.

What is all the more worrying is the gradual erosion of those precious values that teachers down the years have so steadfastly adhered to. What message does it send to the child, when he or she is being helped to cheat in exams? How does it help teachers to set one against the other, forcing many out of the profession?

We are turning the education system into something that values all of the most base elements of human nature.

All though is not lost, teachers, parents, children and unions across the country are all fighting back against this onslaught to destroy our values based education system. The academisation process is being resisted as more and more evidence of the abuses that result become apparent in the public sphere. There is a long way to go but, thankfully, the fight back has begun.

Paul Donovan is an award-winning journalist and Councillor for Redbridge.
See his blog 'Between the Lines':

Tags: Brentwood, Academy Schools, Academisation, Paul Donovan

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