The Tories are being slammed for their forced privatisation of schools (TWEETS)

Ed Sykes

One of the biggest stories from George Osborne’s March budget was the government’s decision to force all schools in England to become academies. Although this policy was not in the Conservative manifesto, the Chancellor spoke about it with great confidence. But now, citizens have hit back.

The teaching profession is already under immense pressure, facing a teacher shortage, a crisis related to school places, and inflating class sizes. And Jeremy Corbyn responded to Osborne’s announcement on 16 March with a significant criticism of the government’s new plan, insisting there was:

not a shred of evidence that turning schools into academies boosts performance

The Labour leader was not alone. Twitter users soon joined him in slamming the government’s illogical, ideological, and authoritarian decision:

Poet and University of London professor Michael Rosen also had a lot to say on the issue. In particular, he referred to academy failings, the government’s attempt to subvert democracy, and the theft of the education system:

Comedian David Schneider, meanwhile, joked sarcastically about how academies are essentially a money-making enterprise:

But the response that may worry the Tories most is this:

The petition mentioned insists that the government policy of turning all schools into academies was:

not in their manifesto and is therefore a completely undemocratic move.

It also asserts that:

There is growing evidence that academies underperform & serious questions about their financial oversight.

Buildings and land, it says, are already being handed over to organisations which are “unaccountable”, and after this transferral “there is no legal mechanism to get them back”. For this reason, it calls for action before it is too late:

Before all schools become academies we demand the government holds a full public inquiry – that takes into account educational research and the views of teachers, parents and students – followed by a referendum in order to show that they have a mandate.

At the time of writing, the petition has already passed 39,000 signatures (easily), meaning that the government is required to respond. If it reaches 100,000, parliament will have to consider debating the issue.

In the meantime, the Anti Academies Alliance – a campaign group made up of parents, pupils, teachers, MPs, councillors, and trade unions – has called for a demonstration on 23 March in London:

Comedy writer/director Graham Linehan has suggested that the protest movement needs to become national:

If the government refuses to listen to opposition now, which is more than likely, this issue will inevitably escalate. And there is a very real chance that this could turn into the next junior doctors’ strike, in which yet another group of public sector professionals are compelled to stand up to an irrational, ham-fisted, and anti-democratic government.

Get involved!

– Join the emergency demonstration on 23 March.

– Sign the petition.

– Read other Canary articles about the Tory assault on education here.

– Find your local Anti Academies Alliance group here.

Write to your MP to tell them what you think about the government’s plans for the education system.

Featured image via Anti Academies Alliance

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