Monday, September 07, 2009

Academies Giveaway A Desperate Act

Schools are being given away to the highest bidder by a desperate government in a belated bid to boost its stalled academies sham. Ditching the £2m set-up fee, school secretary Ed Balls has been forced to own up to a miserable failure. The fag-end government has resorted to freebies to foist on the public a flagging flagship of its failed New Labour brand.

Teaching unions have branded plans to scrap the £2m up front set-up costs for academy sponsors as a "sign of desperation" just to keep the discredited scheme going.

Balls says academies are moving into a "new phase", NewLabourspeak for failure.

At £2m a pop, only wealthy charities and sponsors could beg or borrow the cash, now a non-starter in recession depression.

Making it easier for private sponsors to rule the roost in English state schools, is a shameful way of playing politics with pupils.

The government is bent on privatising schools by the back door and bent on switching "failing" schools to its discredited costly PFI academies sham, handing control over to big business backers and government sympathisers.

Far from getting to grips with a class divide with any kind of level playing field, New Labour academies spin has made things worse with extra cash pumped into academies having a divisive impact on other schools in that area.

Protests from parents who have to put up with the hype of shallow academies and heavy-handed plans for more, often fall on deaf ears.

Many academies have been oversubscribed - creaming off the best kids to make them look good, leaving the dross to rot in underfunded and under-resourced bog standard comps.

Ramming dodgy ideals down gullible young throats so sponsors can get off on a high school high is despicable. Increasing the number of undemocratic, unaccountable schools makes a mockery of any pretence of listening to local opinion.

Schools are left to fight a government obsession with league tables, to produce record GCSE results, to stave off closure and meet unrealistic targets.

Refurbishment is out of the question. There's not the money to be made or favours to dole out.

What's the cost of building, equipping and staffing a new school, £10m? £170m has been squandered on ubiquitous management consultants to help them bid for shiny new schools under Building Schools for the Future, with little to show for it, according to figures obtained by the Tories under FoI.

So 170 new schools could have been built or refurbished, instead of throwing more money at New Labour cronies in a management consultancy money-spinning venture.

The then schools supremo, Andrew Adonis, surprised many when government moves to privatise state schools and hand them over to undemocratic business backers, were revealed last year with plans for a huge expansion of the flagging academies programme.

The Orange Party is incensed by the idea of more New Labour academies spin and a further 'focus on failure and closure' with a ruthless switch to discredited academies.

What was a twinkle in Blair's starry eyes became a byword for sleeze. City academies were at the centre of the 'Cash for Honours' political scandal when academy business backers were given peerages in return for New Labour Party loans.

Academies are nothing more than a shabby sham with smoke and mirrors accounting to hide away public spending and debt. The programme is a not-so-clever way of building schools under the discredited PFI scheme, to keep the building off the public balance sheet.

Pupils are handed over to an army of non-elected education consultants and bureaucrats in privately managed academies, out of the control of the local education authorities. Pupils are 're-educated' to suit dodgy ideals. Targets are manipulated by sympathisers to suit their own ends.

The government has already earmarked 638 schools in England as 'failures' under the National Challenge programme. They face funding cuts and a switch to the academy programme, unless they meet unrealistic GCSE targets and toe the line. Expanding the academies programme further will result in more schools branded as 'failures'.

But desperate times call for desperate measures if the fag-end government is to press ahead with its private plan to build shiny new temples to New Labour.

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