Following Salford Star revelations yesterday about The Albion High and Marlborough Road Primary becoming academies (click here), we can reveal that Dukesgate primary school in Little Hulton will also become an academy in September, with the principal's job already advertised.
The Salford Academy Trust, "created by Salford City College, in partnership with Salford Council and the University of Salford", is `sponsoring' Dukesgate primary which will open in September 2012.
The Salford Star understands that every primary and secondary school in Salford with a `satisfactory' rating is being approached by the Salford Academy Trust to become an academy, which basically takes the school out of local authority control and allows it to set its own agenda in terms of admissions, staff, syllabus, length of term times and school days, exclusions, and community use.
Academies can also choose whether to stick with Salford Council services or buy in their own from private companies. Academies have come under fire this week for buying in outside school catering facilities and ignoring healthy eating policies. Many are calling the ConDem's academy policy the privatisation of British education.
The eagerness of Salford Academy Trust to `sponsor' local academies was described last night by a Council source as "an attempt to muscle in on the market".
Salford Council has appointed an Academy Transition Co-ordinator "to oversee the conversion of schools to academies". It has also produced an `Academy Conversion Toolkit' for schools which states that "it is easy for the conversion process to overshadow the interests of children and young people".
In Salford, already approved to become academies are Oakwood High Special School, Beis Yaakov High School, Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary, Broadoak Primary and Swinton High School, while Oasis Academy MediaCityUK and Salford City Academy have been established for a few years.
The Albion High, Marborough Road primary and Dukesgate primary all intend to become academies in September, although parents from Albion High who contacted Salford Star yesterday didn't seem to know anything about the change, saying that they hadn't been consulted.
Under academies legislation, we understand that parents don't need to be legally consulted, and that the decision lies mainly with school governors who only have to consult "with those persons whom they think appropriate before converting into an academy".
Yet, academy status can seriously affect both parents and pupils, as was seen at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK before Christmas when pupils resorted to rioting to protest, as teachers and staff were made redundant in the middle of a school year (see here).
With a local election taking place next week, Salford Council's new schools policy under the ruling Labour majority isn't mentioned in any Labour Party campaign literature. Nor is the move to academies mentioned in any of Labour mayoral candidate, Ian Stewart's literature. Yet academies are incredibly controversial and should be debated openly as part of the election.
Given the secrecy that surrounds attempts by the Salford Academy Trust to privatise Salford schools (see previous Salford Star feature – click here) it's almost like Salford City Council is trying to keep the policy hidden until after the elections…