Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Punch and Judy government

News this morning is that several parents are planning to challenge the government through the courts over city academies. As the NUT points out, this rather gives the lie to government claims that parents are ‘clamouring’ for new academies.

The thing that caught our eye, though, is the deployment of the increasingly familiar ‘blank denial’ tactic. The article lists some of the fundamental human rights problems with the powers that the new Education Act gives to city academies:

Some laws that maintained schools are compelled to abide by do not apply to academies. They do not, for example, always have to take a child with special educational needs (SEN) who has a statement naming the academy as the parents' preferred school.

On exclusions, while pupils in maintained schools can appeal to a fully independent panel against a decision to exclude them from school, a student at an academy must appeal to a panel that is usually appointed by the school itself. In some cases, this panel is the academy's governing body.

Some of the more controversial detail of academies' policies is contained in annexes to the main funding agreement; these can, in some cases, be changed unilaterally by the academy trust, without the say-so of the education secretary. Provisions for religious education, and the right of parents to withdraw their children from RE, are often contained in these annexes.
Add to that the fact that parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights has expressed its concerns, and you might expect some kind of reasoned exposition by way of government response. Instead, we get this from the DfES:

"We totally reject the claim that parents or pupils in academies have fewer rights than those in any other school.”
Ah, so that's OK then. Sheesh, only joking...

"This is pantomime government!"
“No it isn’t!”
“Look, here are the facts. Yes it is!”
“La la la, can’t hear you. No it isn’t!”
"We can prove it is!"
"Isn't!"

…repeat and fade...

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