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Oppose Orimiston Academy!

D | 16.09.2008 15:25 | Education | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

A consultation evening is being held to discuss the proposed Ormiston Midlands Creative & Media Arts Academy. This is being held at the Cresent Theatre, Birmingham on Monday 22nd September at 6.30. We encourage as many people as possible to show up and voice their opposition to this new proposal.

Digital media and creative arts should be a vital part of every young person’s education, linked to professionals in the cultural industries. But the proposed Ormiston Academy is not the answer, for 5 reasons:

1. The Academy would be privately run and not accountable to local parents and the citizens of Birmingham
The Ormiston Trust is a new organisation which wants to take control of local authority schools. Together with Birmingham City University, it would appoint a majority of the school governors. Parents would have only one elected place as of right, and teachers and other staff would have none. The Academy would not be part of Birmingham local authority. Elected local councillors would have little influence. Any promises the sponsors make today they can break tomorrow, and there is nothing parents, school staff, students or Birmingham voters can do about, even though we’ll pay for it through our taxes. And Ormiston’s real interests may well be to run the school to make a profit in the future.

2. Academies don’t get better GCSE results than other schools with the same intake
Some have done better, but only by admitting more middle-class and fewer working-class pupils and by entering them for easier exams. In 2008 almost all schools improved their results, but in 9 of the oldest 36 Academies the GCSE results went down.

3. The Academy will be selective and biased against poorer children
There is one feature of the Eastside Academy which is different from other Academies – it is going to select all its students - 300 at age 14 and the rest at 16. It will select by ‘aptitude’, but all the evidence about forms of selection indicates that they turn out to be forms of social selection. The students most likely to demonstrate ‘aptitude’ in the arts will be those who have had the private music lessons, who go to ballet classes, who belong to drama groups – and they will predominantly be those students from middle-class backgrounds. In Birmingham 33% of pupils are on free school meals. They are likely to be under-represented in the Academy, just as they are in the Brit school it claims to be modelled on.

4. The Academy will damage other schools, especially arts specialists, by creaming off their pupils
We say: more media and arts education and links, yes, but for all pupils, not just a select few.

5. The Academy will put staff pay and conditions at risk
Like all Academies, it is set up under private school legislation so national pay and conditions don’t apply. The sponsors can do what they like – they don’t even have to recognise unions.

The consultation process is a sham – it’s just a sales pitch
Because they won’t allow us to put the case against, and because the deal is already signed. But it can be stopped - if we all speak out – because what is at stake is not just one school, it’s the future of publicly run and publicly education in Birmingham.
We say: let the whole city decide through a referendum.

The Alliance Against Birmingham Academies is a coalition of parents, school staff and concerned citizens supported by ATL, GMB, NASUWT, NUT and Unison.

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