Sandra Mitchell, president of the Birmingham branch of the NUT, is a serving teacher in the city and has two children. She has written this letter to Schools Minister Lord Adonis...
Dear Lord Adonis,
I am writing to you as a Birmingham parent and teacher.
You will already know that Birmingham City Council has said it wants to turn seven of our schools into academies because you have been trying to persuade them to do this for quite a long time.
Seven schools will be handed over to private sponsors who could be multi-millionaire businesses, private companies or religious groups.
They do not have to have any experience in education: all they have to do is provide #2 million to get control of the school, the land and buildings, appoint the majority of governors, and employ the teachers and the employees.
We do not know who these sponsors are likely to be but they do not have to have any connection with this city.
Not only will Birmingham parents, governors, teachers and citizens have no say in the decision to hand over our schools to these people, but they will have no say in how they will be run.
One important power academies have is which pupils are admitted to them. This is the
power that's causing all the fuss in your education White Paper, of course. Birmingham schools have worked hard to build links with each other and all this will be at risk if academies are created because schools will compete for certain types of pupils.
Research has shown that the main reason why academies claim improved results is that they change admissions, attracting pupils from more privileged backgrounds and take fewer children with special education needs.
So academies damage the whole school system by creating a privileged tier of schools at the expense of neighbouring schools. There are other problems which you are probably not keen to make public.
For example, you say academies raise standards but the Government's own evaluation last June showed that in the 11 academies open in 2004, six had improved GCSE results - but five did not.
One actually failed an Ofsted inspection. In contrast, Ofsted reports on the seven Birmingham schools are generally positive.
The Parliamentary committee for education also said last year that it "failed to understand why the Government was putting in such substantial resources into academies when it had not produced evidence on which to base the expansion".
So why do you insist that Birmingham, a successful local authority, has to have academies?
We can tell you what we really need. We need money to rebuild some of our schools and money to refurbish others. You know that money has already been set aside for this under a scheme called Building Schools for the Future.
Give us the money we need: stop telling us what to do. Listen to what people in Birmingham are saying. We do not want, and we do not need, academies.