Last week, as the nation was preparing to enjoy Danny Boyle's anti-Tory Olympics opening ceremony, the ConDem Government sneaked out new policy enabling academies to employ none qualified teachers.
Currently, teachers have to have a QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), which ensures they have been trained and meet certain standards. Under the new policy academies will be able to take on anyone to teach, in line with free schools and private schools.
"This is a perverse decision by the Department for Education and a clear dereliction of duty" said Christine Blower general secretary of the National Union of Teachers "The NUT believes all children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers. Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children's education."
Meanwhile, in Salford, three schools - Albion High, Marlborough Road Primary and Dukesgate Primary School – are due to convert to academy status in September under the Salford Academy Trust, a `partnership' of Salford Council, Salford College and the University of Salford.
However, a Salford Council report, approved by the Mayor last week, shows the minority role of Salford Council within the newly named `Salford Trust' - the word `Academy' has been dropped.
The complicated structure of the body which will run the schools will see only two Salford Council representatives out of twelve possible places…
The Salford Trust itself will have eight members, with Salford Council only having one of those members while Salford City College gets six and the University one.
There will be six directors of the Trust, only one of which will be from Salford Council, while Salford College gets four and the University one.
At the third level there will be a `Multi Academy Trust' – but the Salford Council report states that "a Local Authority representative cannot be nominated at this level".
The report insists that "This partnership will ensure that the statutory duties and powers of intervention of the Strategic Director for Children's Services and the Assistant Mayors are maintained in any schools who become academies…" and that it will "safeguard crucial areas such as admissions, Special Educational Needs, nationally agreed terms and conditions for all staff and safeguarding"…
Yet the report adds that the Trust's board composition "is proposed to avoid Salford Trust becoming a local authority influenced company through the board having no more than 19.99% local authority persons as directors".
Meanwhile, with added complication, the report states that "Salford Learning Partnership, a sub-group of the Children's Trust, will have a key influencing role on the Salford Trust…"
Even at the last Salford Council meeting, councillors were formally asking what the hell the `Salford Learning Partnership' was, and added to that could be `What the hell is the Children's Trust in relation to Salford Council?'.
The shocking thing is that all this complicated information, with the obvious questions about accountability, has only been released publicly AFTER the consultations with staff and parents have already been concluded. All three schools are due to become academies in less than five weeks time…
…And now, with the added Government policy of unqualified teachers being allowed to teach in academies, parents would have every right to question the conversion of Salford schools and the future of their children's education. Except it appears to be too late… for the Albion, Dukesgate and Marlborough Road schools.