The government’s drive to convert schools to Academies is threatening the jobs and working conditions of the most vulnerable members of school communities, according to the GMB union.
School support staff are frequently the first group of employees to have their jobs and terms and conditions threatened, says GMB following a new analysis of official data which shows that less than nine per cent of primaries and 42.5 per cent of secondary schools in England have applied for Academy status.
“GMB as the union for school support staff is closely monitoring the steady stream of Academy conversions as we are always concerned for our members when schools leave the State system,” said GMB National Officer Avril Chambers.
“Too often with conversions to Academies, support staff are viewed as an educational ‘luxury’, despite their vital contribution to education and learning outcomes and the day-to-day running of a school.”
The GMB found that 1,497 of the 16,784 state primary schools in England have applied to become academies by June 2013, 8.9 per cent of the total, whereas 1,396 of the 3,281 secondaries have opted for the Academy route.
“They are being forced to do this by government policy and it is leaving schools in the hands of individual head teachers and boards of governors with no accountability to the local community, they do not have to listen to the public or parents,” said Chambers.
“It is our experience that support staff are frequently the first group of school staff to have their jobs and terms and conditions threatened. GMB strongly defends all school support staff and believes they should be more highly respected for all that they do.
“GMB is committed to doing all it can to ensure that attacks from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, do not translate into targeting the most vulnerable members of the school community.”
The GMB’s analysis also found that the region with the highest proportion of applications for Academy status was the east Midlands where 14.8 per cent of primaries and 51.2 per cent of secondaries are looking to convert. The region of England with the least interest in Academy status is the north west where just 3.8 per cent of primary schools and 29.4 per cent of secondaries have applied.