As 70 failing schools join the 310 already on the list of schools which will be or already are now operating as academies, coalitions of parents in Brighton and Hove, Ipswich and Sheffield are challenging moves to switch them over.
In separate developments, privatisation moves in Goldsmiths College, London and Essex University are also being fought by staff and students, and sponsors of the Unity Academy – one of the early flagships of the initiative – have pulled out. The academy lost its primary backer, Amey, who deny financial pressures are behind their decision.
In Brighton and Hove, two schools with excellent reports from education watchdog Ofsted are to be merged to create the largest primary school in the area. Parents have been outraged by the proposals, which they see as needlessly increasing class sizes and disrupting their childrens’ education. St Luke’s Against Merger (Slam) have noted that there appears to be no hard evidence that education will improve under the new system, and with 600 children the academy will not be able to offer targeted help.
In Ipswich, students from Holywells High school have spoken out against plans to turn the already much-improved school into an academy, and have the backing of parents and teachers. The school is set to be taken over by the Church of England, after it was named as the preferred backer by the government, but students have publicly stated that it is not wanted.
Meanwhile in Sheffield, activists are attempting to challenge a consultation ballot over change to an academy for Parkwood and three primary schools, saying a government pledge to provide funds only in the event of a yes vote amounted to community blackmail.
In higher education, Staff and students at Goldsmiths College have rejected proposals to privatise the recruitment and teaching of international students. In an online poll hosted by UCU, staff and students were asked what effect they thought a joint venture would have on the academic reputation of the college. 720 (94%) of those voting said a joint venture with INTO would adversely affect its academic reputation, while 92% believed it would adversely affect the College's reputation as an employer.
A similar poll at Essex University, in which 90% of voting staff said that the university would be damaged by a joint venture with INTO, led to that university abandoning the plan.