Union bosses set a date for protest over academies

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UNIONS representing hundreds of teachers have set up a public meeting in Portsmouth to say no to schools becoming self-budgeting academies.

The National Union of Teachers and The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers will host the event at the Central Library from 7pm until 9pm on Thursday, May 19.

It comes after The News reported Miltoncross School’s plans to become the city’s second academy, breaking ties with the local education authority.

Other schools are considering the same route. NUT and NASUWT bosses have said they are open to strike action – and Portsmouth NUT secretary Amanda Martin said the meeting would test the general mood of the city.

Mrs Martin said: ‘We want to tell people what academies are and give teachers and members of the public a better understanding of the consequences.

‘We also want to ensure that where there are plans for an academy conversion, the consultation is carried out properly.

‘For us the biggest worry is that the government is trying to bribe schools into becoming academies with the promise of more money when that’s simply on the case.

‘We’ve seen academies across the country make redundancies. But if you choose to become an academy you can’t go back – it’s a massive decision.’

Unions have invited national secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance Alisdair Smith to speak at the meeting.

He is a strong critic of academies – state-funded independent schools that are free to set their own curriculum and salaries. Niel McLeod, headteacher of Miltoncross, said he welcomed an open debate, but insisted his decision to become an academy, sponsored by funding body the Academies Enterprise Trust, would not penalise teachers or pupils.

Mr McLeod said: ‘The reason why our governing body accepted the proposal for joining AET is that they are committed to retaining pay and conditions for all teachers and support staff. AET is a charitable trust – not an independent profit-making business – who are run by headteachers from a range of schools.’

The Miltoncross academy proposal is under consultation and a deadline will be set pending confirmation from the Department for Education and AET.