LETTER: Are academies a way to provide education on the cheap?

I just wanted to write to say thankyou some of your recent articles highlighting issues facing the county, such as the way workers are treated at Sports Direct. '¨In particular I welcomed the article that was published on February 8, by Andy Done-Johnson regarding the claim that as many as half of all lessons in some Derbyshire academies are being taught by unqualified staff, and that 22,000 teaching days have been lost in the county over the past six years due to teachers calling in sick.

Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 5:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2016, 10:41 am

I find some of the changes happening to schools and the pressures being put on teachers very worrying. 
A close friend of mine recently worked as a teaching assistant in secondary schools for an agency. He was regularly working in academies providing cover for classes when a teacher was off sick. He was expected to take charge of a range of subjects, often GCSE classes, where he had no experience at all.

When he asked if he should be given time to at least do some preparation beforehand, he was told not to bother, and all he needed to do was hand out the sheets. He was so disgusted with this he no longer works as a teaching assistant, because he felt this was very unfair to the children.

How is a situation like this benefiting the youth of today, giving them the education they deserve?

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There is a huge push from central government to create more and more academies, even in the face of parental opposition. It is stated that the aim is delivery of better standards, but I cannot help but think it is more about delivering education on the cheap, while undermining the power of the teaching profession. Teachers in these schools after a few years will have to accept new contracts that affect their pay and conditions. By only being accountable to central rather than local government, these academies will be in much better position to strip away many of the rights teachers have justly fought for over the decades. The drop out rate in teaching is already too high, and forcing these changes through will make mattes worse. The real losers in all this will be all our children and grandchildren on whose future we all depend on.

Benjamin Longden