PARENTS, governors and councillors are being urged to answer a call to arms to protect Bolton’s schools from becoming “privatised”

Battle plans against the against the government's controversial academy programme were drawn up at a public meeting of the Bolton Anti-Academy Alliance.

The alliance is made up of the Bolton branch of the National Union of Teachers, Bolton Association of the NASUWT — National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers — and Bolton Unison.

They are urging parents and governors to join them to stop businesses and outside organisations from getting a foothold into schools.

Academy schools are publicly funded independent schools.

Schools which are performing poorly risk being taken over by businesses or outside organisations and are moved out of local authority control.

The government claims this raises standards — which is disputed by teaching unions.

The meeting was held at Westhoughton Community Centre and unions say they need to start their campaign now as the turnaround time for schools to shut and reopen as academies is not long.

Julia Simpkins, secretary of Bolton branch of the NUT, said: “Education is at the heart of local education authority schools, academies have money at the heart of everything they do.

“We are worried that more schools will become academies, it is what Mr Gove wants.”

Joan Pritchard Jones, from Unison, said that academy sponsors blinded people with the glossy brochures promising “new computers and buildings”.

Phil Travis, from Unison, said the campaign needed to be taken into the community as well as schools.

Speaking after the meeting, Don Grant from the NASUWT, added: “I would say to parents find out what academies do.”

The meeting was attended by about 20 union representatives.

There are five sponsored academies in Bolton. These are Kearsley, Smithills, Essa, Bolton St Catherine's and The Ferns, which is the only primary school.

The first academy in Bolton opened in 2009. It was Essa Academy, which replaced Hayward School.