The UK government has announced that it intends to force all schools to become 'academies'. Like charter schools in the US, these will be run by NGOs, foundations, wealthy individuals, hedge funds, corporations, churches or indeed any body which is unaccountable to the community which the school serves. Just to make this point quite clear, school governing bodies will no longer include elected parents.

Although at present these schools will not be for-profit, many businesses have already got their noses in the trough. The creeping privatisation of schools has been moving steadily in the direction of profit-taking since academies were first brought in by Blair government in the late 90s. If this move goes through it will be only a matter of time before arch 'reformer' James Tooley's 2006  vision becomes a reality: 'Gazing into my crystal ball, I see chains of learning centres carrying the distinctive bright orange logo of easyLearn competing with those sporting the red V of VirginOpportunity.'

The UK shares the dubious distinction with Chile under the dictator Pinochet, of being a proving ground for the most extreme reaches of neoliberal education policy. The mass privatisation of schools in Chile was made possible by the brutal repression of dissent and trade unionism. Since that time teachers and students have been waging a constant campaign for an end to that system. And on the back of those experiments, such reforms spread out to the US, the UK and are now rampant in the global South. Only last week teachers were protesting the privatisation of schools in the Punjab area of Pakistan for example, whose government was mentored by the UK's and Pearson's Sir Michael Barber.

The UK National Union of Teachers was built in the fight to gain national pay and conditions at the end of the nineteenth century. If this move is allowed to pass then they will be gone. It is an attempt to destroy both our union and our profession - academies do not have to employ qualified teachers, and the latest government policy paper will have headteachers 'accrediting' anyone who comes in off the streets offering to teach, so long as they are judged to be competent. 

Most of all this is an attack on public and democratic education. Teachers in the UK are now facing the fight of their lives. But they can draw inspiration from the struggles of teachers, students and communities around the world against privatisation.