The Government's plans to force all schools to become academies over the next six years has been greeted with incredulity and horror by parents, teachers and politicians.
They are recklessly ploughing ahead with this policy despite the fact that many communities and schools have categorically said they do not want to convert to an academy. In effect this plan will in one clean swoop remove the voice and the choice from local people over education in their area.
Over 80% of local authority schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted - why force them to change? Lots of evidence suggests the academy programme isn't working. Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted just last week said that many academy chains were performing badly - and letting down disadvantaged children.
Astonishingly this huge change wasn't put before the people in the General Election less than year ago. It is startling that this programme wasn't mentioned in the Conservatives' manifesto. If they thought this was such a good idea why didn't they put it before the population?
The Government's White Paper misleadingly titled "Educational Excellence Everywhere" is a complete distraction from the very real problems facing schools and parents now, but is a huge danger to our education system and does open the door to privatisation.
Schools and parents are facing a chronic teacher shortage, a lack of school places, chaos around curriculum changes and primary tests and a funding crisis. But instead of dealing with these very real issues the Government is pursuing a top down re-organisation of education that has no basis in evidence to support it.
The proposal supposedly to replace QTS with "a new stronger accreditation" is nothing of the sort. It removes Universities entirely from the accreditation of teachers and brings the international portability of England's teacher's qualifications into question. This is hardly elevating the profession.
As well as forcing schools to become academies the Government intends to remove the requirement for governing bodies to have parent governors; multi academy trusts will be allowed to close down the governing bodies of individual schools. Once in a multi-academy trust there is no way for that school to decide to leave. And far from giving more autonomy to schools, once a school enters a MAT all self-management at that school can be removed.
So the programme that started supposedly with parental choice will deny parents any real choice; will deny head teachers and governors any real choice. It drives the public further and further out of education; no councillors, not local authority governors, no parent governors, removal of autonomy for heads. Instead very well paid chief executives will make the decisions for us all.
We agree with Lucy Powell's call for a 'pause' and we intend to work with all possible allies, including importantly parents and governors to seek to defeat this White Paper.