APF parents have been writing to their local election candidates asking them the following questions;
As a candidate standing in the local elections on May 3rd we would like to ask if you are in favour of a full consultation with a binding parental ballot before any conversion to academy status takes place?
If elected will you be willing to meet members of our campaign to discuss these issues further?
We have received a response from Eva Phillips, Labour candidate for Brandwood, who was emailed by APF parent Mark Raychell. Their email correspondence is reproduced below;
Hi Eva,I’m a local Labour Party member and a parent of two boys at Colmore. I’m also a member of Ask Parents First.I’m really concerned about the break-up and privatisation of local state education. Since the election, schools have been effectively bribed into becoming academies and leaving local authority accountability. We are now starting to see Michael Gove forcing schools that he deems to be ‘not good enough’ into becoming academies run by private chains. Throughout the process there has been a real lack of meaningful parental involvement in the decisions that are being made.I hope that a Labour-led Birmingham would adopt a different approach and am interested in what policies the Labour group has for education. Sadly I see no mention of education in your election leaflets, nor have I seen any reference to these issues in the publicity for the potential mayoral candidates.I’d be interested to know your views on these issues.Specifically, I would ask you to make a pledge that you would support the right of all local parents to a full consultation, including a binding ballot, before any conversion to academy status takes place.Thanks. I look forward to your reply,Mark Raychell
MarkThank you for your email. Apologies for the delay in replying, obviously it’s a particularly busy time.I am concerned about education, that’s why I invited Stephen Twigg, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, to come to Brandwood in January. We had a lively meeting at the scout hut in Colmore Road, which you will not be surprised ended up as almost entirely a discussion about academies. This is a topic about which people have very strong opinions. Labour in Birmingham have also prodiced a manifesto that you can look at here and read our policies on education. http://www.birmingham-labour.org.uk/uploads/2afdeb84-fd25-c894-212c-74c2ee2951ec.pdfAs you know Labour created Academies to help underperforming schools. I absolutely believe that a full and meaningful consultation should be taken with parents and will work to ensure this and that it is taken into account if i am elected as your local councillor.With regards to the mayoral position I believe there has been little mention to date as political candidates have not been selected and campaiging has been around the referendum issue. As this is one of the most important powers a mayor may hold I believe positions will be made quite clear if there is a ‘yes’ vote on Thursday.I hope this goes someway to answering your query.Best wishesEva
News came in earlier today (2nd May) that Lisa Trickett, Labour candidate for Moseley/Kings Heath is very supportive of our aims and happy to meet the group.
Phil Walkling (Labour) responded to a letter in person while out doorstepping in the Bournville ward. Mr Walkling told APF parent Sarah Barton that he is in favour of full consultation and parental ballots on academy conversion, but he explained that the ‘sticking point’ for him is the word ‘binding’. He thinks a parental ballot should form part of the consultation but should not be binding as there are other stakeholders. Mr Walkling also explained that Labour is opposed to forced academies. Mr Walkling said that if elected he would be willing to meet with the Ask Parents First group.
Communities Against The Cuts who are standing candidates in Kings Norton and Bournville have responded to this blog post via Twitter;
The CATC candidates are Lynne Habermacher in Bournville, and Chris Hughes in Kings Norton
Mayoral candidates & Stephen Twigg
APF asked Birmingham mayoral candidates Sion Simon and Gisela Stuart and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg a similar question via twitter.
Sion Simon responded
Mr Simon did not explain what his reservations might be, but he did confirm that he would be willing to meet the APF group and invited us to email him some dates.
No responses have yet been received from Gisela Stuart or Stephen Twigg.