Academy looks like a done deal

Industrial Terrace, Savile Park, Halifax

WELL done to Jane Smith for high-lighting the concerns of many throughout Calderdale about the creation of an academy in Halifax ("We're being bullied over academies", Your say, February 25).

Of particular concern to me, as a parent with one child already attending Holy Trinity Senior School and another due to start there next autumn, is that, as I understand it, there will be no guarantee of a place for any child who would have gone to Holy Trinity or The Ridings schools.

Academies are able to set their own admissions and exclusions criteria. I believe there are guidelines for this but they differ from local education authority community schools.

According to the Anti-Academies Alliance, academies are excluding students at more than twice the national average, with a higher proportion of children from black, ethnic minority or low-income families being excluded.

I believe there is no evidence to show that academies are any more successful, in terms of results, than community schools. Academies are exempt from many of the rules and regulations, checks and balances, to which normal schools are subject.

Council protestations over the level of public consultation on the matter are something of a show. The two meetings I've attended both gave a clear message to the council that it should think again but I believe that this is very much a done deal and that the whole consultation process is merely a stage-managed show and that the will of the public will not be done.

I have concerns our child-ren's education will no longer be in the hands of the community and the LEA in which they live and that ownership will change to those of business or religions with their own agendas.

Faith schools are biased and are unable to provide the most impartial, balanced education for children from backgrounds which do not practise the same religious preferences.

If we are to have an academy where will non-Christian children go in north Halifax for an education? We need good community schools that reflect the needs of the families in those communities to provide a good, balanced education irrespective of faith, background or level of ability.

Councillor Craig Whittaker, who has cabinet responsibility for children and young people, has said: "The academy will be more than a school. It will become a physical resource for the community."

What community would that be, I ask? This school will be too big to be considered a community school and that's the whole point; communities are neighbourhoods and not huge areas covering several districts.

The academy represents a solution for the council, which has persistently failed to manage our children's secondary education over many years. Had it done so it would not be in this position and would not need to look outside the community.

Many parents and teachers do not want the Bishop of Wakefield to dictate what does or doesn't happen in the classroom and staffroom.

Indeed Halifax MP Linda Riordan is on record as being concerned as to "how secondary education in the town might be adversely affected for a generation".

My concern is that the ink is already drying on the contracts and that the cabinet is not listening to the parents, teachers and taxpayers of Calderdale.

I would invite the council to convince us otherwise.

Christine Oxley