GMB Seeks Talks With Twigg

10 May 2012

GMB is seeking an urgent meeting with Stephen Twigg, the shadow Secretary of State for Education, following his recent claim that “Labour has no desire to turn back the clock” on the Government’s academies programme. This follows a discussion at the GMB’s Schools National Committee meeting yesterday which discussed the Labour Party Education consultation paper.
A consultation on a Labour Party policy review document called “Devolving Power in Education”, runs until 10 July. In the foreword Mr Twigg states that “Labour has no desire to turn back the clock and return powers from schools to Local Authorities. Nor do we want to see a reduction in the autonomies we gave schools through academies, trust schools and federations.”
Mr Twigg also suggests that although academies and free schools have created “uncertainties” and greater “exposure to risk in the system”, they have also led to “positive opportunities for innovation”.
Kath Robinson, Vice-Chair of the GMB Schools National Committee and Yorkshire & North Derbyshire region member, said “Committee members have expressed serious concerns about the Tory policies being advocated by Mr Twigg. The future of academies and free schools should not be out-of-bounds areas in any Labour Party education policy review. By breaking-up the local-authority family of schools Michael Gove is making it more and more difficult to deliver integrated and accountable services to children. Costs to taxpayers are also likely to rise as economies of scale are lost and as heads push up their own salaries. There are little or no guarantees of better educational outcomes. Gove is also using public money to fund the start-up costs of the private companies which lie behind these academies.

Labour needs to offer a real, democratic alternative to these reckless Tory policies. Parents and staff in local-authority maintained schools continue to hope for Labour support in any local campaign against any school becoming academies especially in cases of forced conversion as in Haringey.”
Sharon Holder, GMB National Officer for members in schools, said: “I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Shadow Education Secretary to clarify his position on academies and free schools. GMB has a well-defined policy to press the Labour Party to reject the principle of academy status. It would be wrong for Labour simply to accept the damage done by the present Government. In the NHS, Labour has rightly said that it will repeal Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act. The Labour Party needs to be just as bold about overturning Tory policy when it comes to Michael Gove’s academies and free schools.”