Derbyshire campaigners rally against academy plans

Campaigners descended on Matlock to oppose the controversial academy plans. Picture submitted.

Campaigners descended on Matlock to oppose the controversial academy plans. Picture submitted.

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Protesters have gathered in Matlock to oppose Government plans to turn all state schools into academies by 2020.

The group of more than 70 parents, teachers and concerned members of the public attended the rally in the town’s Hall Leys Park last week.

Academies are directly funded by the Department for Education rather than local councils. They sometimes receive support from corporate or other sponsors.

The schools are often grouped into ‘chains’ where a single trust runs more than one school.

Alice Lockett, a spokesman for Matlock Anti-Academies, said “The more I talk to the people of Matlock face-to-face and online the more I realise the horror and disgust people have for this policy. It not only puts the education of our children at risk through the upheaval it will cause but is also essentially handing over publicly-owned assets to the private sector. Add to this the removal of education from the control of locally accountable representatives and we see an erosion of democracy which should worry us all. Our children’s education is not for sale.”

Ninety-three per cent of headteachers, their deputies and assistants polled by the National Union of Teachers agreed the proposals were ‘inappropriate’.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The fact that almost 70 per cent of all open academies have voluntarily become one suggests the concerns raised by those polled by the NUT are not shared more widely across the country.”

As well as among teachers, there is also strong public opposition to academies. Polling by ICM found that 57 per cent of people oppose academy schools in general.