Union against move to new academy

NORTH Somerset’s teachers’ union is opposing plans to convert Backwell School to an academy, which it says goes against staff wishes.

Backwell is one of two North Somerset schools, alongside Wyvern in Weston, which is earmarked for a switch to academy status this year.

The change is expected to take place in April, and has been welcomed by headteacher Julian Baldwin, who is in favour of the additional control over finances and curriculum which academy status affords.

But the district’s branch of the National Teachers’ Union (NUT) has claimed an ‘overwhelming majority’ of Backwell staff oppose the move.

Although a ‘slim’ majority of pupils’ parents are in favour, teachers voted strongly against the change in a recent ballot, and the NUT wants North Somerset Council to rethink the planned conversion.

NUT North Somerset secretary Jon Reddiford said: “The main reason the NUT is opposed to academies is they stand outside local democracy and accountability.

“These two examples (Backwell and Wyvern) show precisely that when academy status comes in, local democracy and accountability go out of the window.

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“The NUT is committed to supporting its members and local communities by campaigning against these schools becoming academies.”

However, Mr Baldwin offered public reassurances in December that the change would not have a negative affect on students.

He said: “The governors and I believe that becoming an academy will enable us to carry on providing our students with an outstanding education and learning experience in and out of the classroom.

“It will be an exciting time, but Backwell’s aims and values will not change. We will remain a completely comprehensive school serving our local community.

“We believe it is in the best interests of the present and future students who make up our community and will enable us to ensure that excellence over the coming years.”