UK plan to privatise schools condemned
Ongoing plans by the UK government to privatise schools and place its educators' working rights at risk has been condemned by the IEUA.
While union and community opposition has seen the UK government abandoned plans to privatise all schools by 2022 it still intends on converting those schools which it characterises as “underperforming” or “failing”.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union stands together with other education unions globally in condemning any move to attack the working conditions of teachers and school staff in the UK.
“Members attending the recent IEUA national conference were shocked to hear a firsthand account of the UK government's shameful attack on its education system and it workers, from Dr Patrick Roach, Deputy Secretary of NASUWT, the UK’s largest education union.
“In response, members passed a resolution to support education workers in the UK in opposing moves to convert any school into a privatised academy and called on the UK government to overturn its poor policy decision and ensure that quality education, quality learning environments and quality teaching careers are not undermined by this reckless and unjustified experiment.
Privatisation: a global threat
Mr Burke said the privatisation of schools in the UK was an issue that members must fight collectively as it could threaten educators in other countries, including Australia, if governments choose to implement similar measures.
“UK unions, with the support of their international affiliates, have fought hard to sustain local control of schools, maintain a non-fragmented education system and local collective agreements, which ‘academisation’ would undermine,” he said.
Mr Burke said academies are state-funded independent schools, exempt from local government control, which do not have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own standards.
“Academies are overseen by for-profit organisations such as universities and individual charitable faith groups,” he said.
“However, the pay and conditions of education professionals working in academies is placed in jeopardy as there are no regulated salary structures.”
The UK Government passed the Education and Adoption Act 2016 through parliament in February this year, under which schools can be deemed as “failing”, “underperforming” or “coasting”.
The government said the legislation would help remove bureaucratic processes but there are no clear definitions as to how schools would be classified as falling within these groupings.
According to the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Bill’s provisions automatically require so-called "failing" schools – deemed by the state education standards department as requiring significant improvement – to become sponsored academies.
“There is no evidence to support that becoming an academy will automatically improve education standards or performance outcomes at a school,” Mr Burke said.
“There are other ways to address school improvement, so it is crucial for unions to express their concerns around the proposals and continue to protest forced privatisation of the education sector.”