Furious backlash at school academy bid

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A LEADING teaching union has launched a fierce attack on a Sheffield secondary school’s plans to turn itself into an academy.

Governors at Tapton School in Crosspool argue they have little alternative to opting out of local authority control as the move could bring in extra funding of £750,000 a year.

They believe the cash is vital to compensate for serious cuts facing the sixth form, which could lose £450,000 over the next three years.

But the NASUWT union says the decision has been taken unilaterally without consulting staff, parents or the local community.

“We hope parents and the Tapton community as a whole will have time to reflect on why they are being steam-rollered into accepting a decision to take their local community school out of local accountability and control,” said Sheffield secretary David Haigh.

“The school governors have unilaterally decided to take the step to privatise education in this part of Sheffield.”

He claimed views of the staff had been ignored, as 80 per cent voted against the plans and were in favour of the school remaining accountable to the taxpayers.

“This move is a kick in the teeth to all those who believe in public services. In an effort to justify their decision, the governors quote that only two parents objected to the move - but fail to mention that only two parents voted in favour.”

Mr Haigh said the Liberal Democrats at their recent conference voted overwhelmingly for a motion opposing Academies and Free Schools.

“Parents should be more than a little concerned that, if this is an indication of how the governors operate, with a seeming contempt for the views of others, what notice would they take of any issues raised by the community in the future?” he said.

“A letter to parents stated there was no intention to free themselves from the local authority and the Sheffield community, yet in a later presentation the school said it would ‘shop around’ for cheaper services than the Sheffield authority provides.

“The forecast of extra funding is wildly exaggerated. Any extra funding would be for only an initial period anyway as the Government itself says there should be no financial advantage for academies over community schools. Academies are schools that are no longer accountable to the local authority and have no requirement to have elected parents or staff on their governing bodies.”

Tapton’s plans were criticised by some parents who said they were given only two weeks to respond, with no opportunity to make their views heard at a public meeting.

Head teacher David Bowes said: “We have stressed to parents there will be no change to the way the school operates.

“We have had to act because funding cuts are set to put in jeopardy much of the high quality education that Tapton offers. ”