Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell set to address protesters from NUT and ATL teaching unions
Hundreds of teachers marched past the Department for Education this evening in London in protest at government plans to turn all schools into academies.
The march has been organised by the NUT and ATL teaching unions and is backed by Labour’s shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who is due to address the protesters. Marches are also due to take place in 13 other cities including Birmingham, Newcastle and Cambridge.
Teachers chanted “academies have got to go” as they approached the DfE Sanctuary Buildings headquarters in Westminster.
Whistles were blown and calls of “Hey, ho, Nicky Morgan has to go” and “Nicky Morgan on your bike, what we need is a teachers’ strike”, were shouted as the march paused outside the DfE.
The protests come after ministers published a White Paper last week that said all schools would have to become academies – or have a plan in place to do so – by 2020.
Ms Powell is set to say at a rally in Westminster this evening: “The Tory government’s plan to force all schools to become academies is a top-down, costly reorganisation of our schools, which nobody wants and schools don’t need.
“Labour will fiercely oppose these plans. At a time when schools are facing huge challenges of falling budgets for the first time since the mid-1990s, chronic shortages of teachers and not enough good school places, this unnecessary and unfounded distraction of the government’s will only harm standards in our schools.”
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said ahead of the march: “Converting all schools to academies will be a disaster for education and local democracy. Despite there being no evidence that academy status improves education, Nicky Morgan is recklessly ploughing ahead with this policy.
“Many communities and schools have categorically said they do not want to convert to an academy. We agree with Lucy Powell’s call for a ‘pause’ and we intend to work with all possible allies, including, importantly, parents, governors and concerned members of all political parties, to seek to defeat this destructive White Paper.”
TES reported this week that the academy plans were due to be debated in Parliament after two petitions condemning the idea attracted more than 100,000 signatures each.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Every parent deserves to know their child is getting an excellent education, and it is disappointing that the NUT and ATL are taking this approach.
“Pupils are already benefiting hugely from the academies programme and thanks to our reforms more of them than ever before are going to good or outstanding schools, meaning more parents can access a good school place for their children.
“The changes we are making will put control back in the hands of teachers and school leaders – those who know their pupils best – making sure every single child has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”