EXCLUSIVE interviews with the Leading Mayoral candidates for Salford – Labour’s Paul Dennett and the Conservatives’ Robin Gorrido – show clashing views regarding the academisation of the city’s schools.

Mr Dennett has publicly refused to support the forced Tory change of all Salford schools becoming academies by 2020.

Plans to change all UK schools into academies were announced during George Osborne’s Spring Budget, in which he stated that: “By 2020 every primary and secondary school in England will be or be in the process of becoming an academy.”

Mr Osborne said this was in order to set ‘schools free from local government bureaucracy’.

Links to Governmental Papers on Academisation by 2020:

White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere: released after the budget.

2016 Budget where Osborne outlines his plans.

Mr Dennett took to the social media platforms Twitter and Facebook yesterday to condemn the introduction of cross city academies.

His Facebook post read: “I do not support the Tory Governments plans for forced academisation of our schools and I don’t believe #Salford residents do either.”

Paul Dennett Facebook Message
Paul Dennett’s original Facebook post from the 12/04/2016.

Salford resident and Local Government response to the post has been largely against academisation with many people re-tweeting, sharing and commenting their agreement with Mr Dennett.

Mr Dennett’s Twitter message was shared by the current Labour Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services at Salford Council, Councillor John Merry.

Also by Labour’s Social Work Group who wrote a reply adding to Mr Dennett’s post, condemning both academisation and outsourcing children’s social work.

Most resident’s responses have focused on the the lack of information available regarding what the changes would mean to Salford schools.

A Salford resident Norma Parkinson-Green wrote on Facebook: “No we do not want that (academisation) however many parents have not been given enough information to make informed choices.”

What is the difference between an Academy and a State School?

  • Essentially Academies have more freedom than state schools over finances, what they teach and teachers pay. They are funded directly by central government rather than local authorities.
  • There are currently, according to the Government’s Department for Education, 57 schools in Salford seven of which are Academies.
  • Ofsted official reports show that out of the Salford’s seven Academies two had been rated with an effectiveness level of ‘Requires Improvement’ and four more have been given a ‘Good’ rating.

See below for a Press Association video that explains simply what Academisation means:

This confusion might have sprung from the vagueness of each party’s debate on the subject and their use of political jargon.

Mr Dennett’s Conservative Mayoral Candidate opponent, Robin Gorrido told Quays News: “I don’t agree with him, I think that academies have been proven to work up and down the country.”

When asked why Mr Gorrido supported bringing in academies across Salford he said that he couldn’t be specific, however: “Academisation makes schools independent from local government and independence is the most important factor.”

He also said if he were made mayor: “I would be happy to sit down with schools and talk about how it is best to progress.”

In a more specific statement a spokesman from Salford’s Conservatives said: “Free Schools give parents more choice and raise standards by letting talented and committed teachers, charities and parents respond to local demands and improve education in their community. These schools are now benefiting from the freedoms of academy status, with more power over what happens in their classrooms, discipline and budgets.

By Abigail Frazer

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