On Tuesday a positive and well-attended lobby of the full Council meeting took place outside Birmingham Council House by parents, staff and supporters of Small Heath School in opposition to any plan to change the school into an academy
A delegation of parents spoke to Local Councillors Tahir Ali and Yvonne Mosquito about their concerns during a break of the full council meeting. Both Councillors were supportive and accepted a petition of more than 800 signatures against academisation collected by parents over the summer. Parents stand to lose important legal protections and local accountability if Small Heath School becomes an academy.
The Parents of Small Heath campaign group (POSH) held two large public meetings before the summer break. Parents are angry that plans to convert their school to an academy are being made behind closed doors without any consultation and with apparent disregard for their views. POSH has welcomed support for the school as it works to get out of Special Measures, but they do not wish this support to involve becoming a sponsored academy. Academy conversion is just as strongly opposed by staff who have held two strikes with support from parents on the picket line. Unions representing the staff are currently discussing the date for a third strike.
Earlier this year an Education Select Committee report recognised that there is no evidence that academy conversion results in school improvement, stating that “academisation is not always successful nor is it the only proven alternative for a struggling school.” Furthermore analysis by Henry Stewart of the Local Schools Network has shown that sponsored academies actually perform worse than similar non academies.
BCASE calls on Birmingham City Council and the IEB to recognise the strength of feeling and accept that there is no appetite whatsoever for academisation among the parents, the staff or the wider community of Small Heath School. There can be no justification for imposing a change that removes parents’ and pupils’ legal protections, their recourse to local accountability, that damages staff pay and conditions, that is opposed by the school community and that could actually slow the school’s recovery from Special Measures.