Worries over education ‘imbalance’ as Lincolnshire County Council encourages schools to convert to academies

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A TRADE union has criticised a council for encouraging schools to become academies, saying the change could cause an imbalance in education.

Lincolnshire County Council decided last week it wanted all its state schools to become academies and run themselves, rather than the council being in charge.

But members of the Lincolnshire branch of public sector union UNISON say that if all schools convert then pupils could miss out on high quality education.

Branch chairman Clare Rowley said: “Our union has campaigned against academies since their inception.

“They are divisive, they open up the way to the privatisation of education, and they mean further inequality of opportunity for pupils.

“We believe that the cornerstone of education policy should be the development of every child’s potential, regardless of postcode or economic class.

“The county council should promote its public role in coordinating education and safeguarding standards – not advocate the breaking up of democratic accountability.”

Schools that become academies are free from local authority control and can spend their budget however they want.

Academies can set their own pay and conditions for staff, set their own curriculum and change the lengths of terms and school days.

UNISON has 3,000 members working in Lincolnshire schools.

Branch spokesman Janet Hutchinson added: “We are concerned that as more and more schools become academies, there will be a threat to (our members’) conditions of employment, and more importantly to the strategic provision of a balanced education system.”

Bourne Abbey Primary Academy is the only Lincolnshire primary school in the Mercury area to have been granted academy status so far, while the Robert Manning College became the Bourne Academy this month and the Charles Read Academy in Corby Glen converted in January.

Stamford Queen Eleanor School, Malcolm Sargent School, Bourne Grammar School, Bourne Westfield Primary School and The Deepings School all applied this year.

Rutland County Council has no stance on academies although Brooke Hill Academy Trust and Catmose College in Oakham, Uppingham Community College and Casterton Business and Enterprise College have already converted.