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29th February 2012, 9:41am
Free conference to examine risks of push towards academy schools
A teacher at a blackboard Teachers, parents and school governors will examine the risks associated with the Government's controversial push towards academy schools in a free conference in Lincoln.

The Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) at the University of Lincoln is arranging the debate to investigate how education reforms nationally and locally are being felt in schools across Lincolnshire and beyond.

The free conference 'Education in Lincolnshire: what does the future hold?' will take place in the EMMTEC building on the University's Brayford Pool campus from 2-5pm on Saturday 3rd March 2012. Anyone with an interest in education is welcome to attend the event and there is no need to book a place.

Keynote speaker is the journalist, writer and education campaigner Melissa Benn, author of the acclaimed book, 'School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education' (2011) and daughter of the Labour politician Tony Benn.

She will be joined by Councillor Peter Downes, a national expert on school finances and ex-principal of one of the largest secondary schools in the country, as well as Alasdair Smith, secretary of the Anti-Academies Alliance.

Academics, teachers, school governors, parents and teaching union representatives will take part in a series of workshops, where they will consider issues such as whether academies really do raise educational standards, their potential impact on achievement gaps between children of different social or ethnic backgrounds, and the provision for pupils with special educational needs.

Issues about governance and accountability, finances and the influence of sponsors, and the effect on pay and conditions for teachers will also be explored. Speakers will also investigate the reality behind the lure of additional funding which has already persuaded many schools to leave local authority control and adopt academy status.

The conference will culminate in a Q&A with a panel of the assembled experts.

Conference co-organiser Professor Howard Stevenson, a former teacher and now a recognised academic expert on school leadership and governance in CERD, said: "The Government's proposals for schools are extremely controversial. Before making important decisions about a school's future, it is important that issues are properly debated and risks are fully explored. This conference is intended to encourage that debate so that governors, parents and teachers feel fully informed and confident to take decisions that are in the best interests of all the county's children."

The event will close with a reception to mark the launch of CERD's latest book, 'Towards Teaching in Public: Reshaping the Modern University' (2012).

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