Readers' letters - March 31
Support the teachers
The Government has decided that every school will become an academy. Academies are bad for education. Exclusion rates per school are over five times higher at academies than state-run schools. They take fewer children who receive free school meals. They have the “freedom” to employ unqualified teachers on lower pay—meaning a worse education for children.
The Academies Commission found that academies use “covert selection” to improve their results. Despite this, it said results are not “markedly better” than other schools.
Half the schools in Britain’s biggest academy chain were found by Ofsted to be failing in 2014. This year Ofsted said almost half of students at the chain’s secondary schools are in schools that are “less than good”.
Although academies are funded by the state, they are privately-run. Converting schools into academies involves a huge shift of wealth, in terms of land, buildings and resources, from public to private hands. They are about helping big business get its claws into the education system.
Academies are a bridge towards the privatisation of education with schools being run openly for profit. This means that parents, democratically elected councillors and others will have less say over children’s education.
Research from London’s Institute of Education in 2014 said academy trusts and their firms were grabbing “very large sums of public money”.
One paid nearly £500,000 into the private business interests of its trustees and executives over a three-year period.
Over 100,000 people signed a petition (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124747) in under four days opposing the academies’ plan and demanding a public inquiry into academies.
At their annual conference over the Easter weekend, the National Union of Teachers voted overwhelmingly for strikes against the impact of forced academies and funding cuts.
When the teachers strike, I would urge parents to support them. Join their picket lines and their demonstrations. They will be taking action to defend the education of your children.
Keeping the streets clean
Near where I live, a woman can be seen most mornings picking up litter and disposing it in a bin before she calls at the shop.
I thought of this lady when I was listening to BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth and the issue of litter.
The Keep Britain Tidy Group, which has been in existence for over 60 years, is very much aware that more waste is being generated and disposed in an era of fast food, eating on the go, disposable cups and cans.
The Tidy Group believes that the Government should be raising awareness of the problems with litter. Speakers on the programme noted how clean things were in Switzerland where they have teams of litter ambassadors talking to people which has led to much reduction in litter.
In the mid 1980s, there was concern in the state of Texas of the amount of rubbish being thrown out of cars – they came out with the slogan – ‘don’t mess with Texas’ and reduced litter on Texas highways by 70 per cent. In the UK some local authorities have introduced on the spot fines for the dropping of cigarettes in the street.
The simple message for all of us is to take our rubbish home or dispose it in the appropriate bins that are provided around areas where we live.