FAQ: Opposing Academies and “Free” Schools

What are Academies?

The academy schools program began in 2000 under New Labour. They are state sector schools run independent of local authority control and with a private sponsor. Less than two ago, there were less than 300 academies in England, but the Academies Act 2010 sought to expand the number of academies and there are now over 1600. Some  schools that are deemed 'outstanding' by Ofsted have been ‘fast-tracked’. It is thought that many 'outstanding schools may not even need a sponsor, and might be able to opt straight out of local authority control regardless.

EW Issue 8: Academy Special

The latest issue of Education Worker, the EWN's bulletin is out, with an Academies Special! We lift the lid on what's happening in schools and academies in particular: what they are, what they do, why they are a problem and what should be done about it. EW#8 can be downloaded from the site, or ask your nearest SolFed local.


Call for a national week of action against privatisation

Today, PCS members in HM Revenue & Customs took strike action over the threat of privatisation. In Bootle, a member of Liverpool Solidarity Federation and PCS activist put the following statement - calling for a national week of action against privatisation - to an assembly of striking workers, where it was approved unanimously.

HM Revenue & Customs are engaging in a 12 month pilot with two private contractors, Sitel and Teleperformance, to handle calls alongside existing staff at contact centres in Bathgate and Lilyhall. The department claims that this is merely to look at ways they can address call backlogs during peak times. However, this is a transparent attack on the jobs, terms and conditions of PCS members.

Industry focus: NHS privatisation in the West Country

In 2009, the Labour Government launched its ‘Transforming Community Services’ policy for public healthcare. PCT boards were instructed to evaluate their provider services and consider a variety of models for future service delivery. One model much favoured by the current coalition Government is social enterprise, defined as ‘businesses established to address a social or environmental need’. 

Demonstration against Andrew Lansley

Today saw the start of the Royal College of GPs conference in Liverpool. Keep Our NHS Public held a protest outside the venue, the BT Convention Centre, as health minister Andrew Lansley was set to be the day's keynote speaker. Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation joined the action.

As the land was private property, the security had taken the trouble to set up a protest pen using steel barricades, in which the demonstrators were to be contained. Liverpool Solfed members and others were resistant to this, but too many of those who turned up complied willingly either by going inside or by keeping their distance from the centre whilst giving out leaflets. The minority who chose not to be caged - especially as there were no police present! - simply kept moving about so that they were never static enough to be herded back to the pen.

Cuts coming to Community Base?

Today we heard that the trustees of Brighton's Community Base were meeting to push through privatisation plans and redundancies to the staff directly employed there (numbering two or three). Community Base is a charity providing a home for community and voluntary groups in Brighton and Hove and services to the local community. They use income from affordable services, including the provision of office space and the use of meeting rooms, to repay a mortgage on their centrally-located seven floor building.