Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Academy chains

"It is widely believed that the government plan to bring forward a white paper that will force all schools to become academies."
"This is a two edged sword for the government. On the one hand they will look like they are able to get their way on education but on the other hand it is clear that they have failed to convince the vast majority of schools that academies are a good idea. That is not surprising as figures from Ofsted show that a school is six times more likely to get out of an inadequate grading if it remains a community school rather than become an academy! This is totally contrary to the government’s mantra that all ‘failing’ schools must become academies in order to improve."
Nicky Morgan refuses to say how many academies are failing.

The other mantra is that academies can be run autonomously:

"The academies programme has taken schools policy in England by storm."

"For the past 15 years, the creation of more of these “state funded independent schools” has been a political imperative for every single education minister, whatever their political hue."

"But that support has been the only constant. The idea of what an academy is has changed beyond all recognition as, one by one, the defining characteristics that once made these schools different have been stripped away."

"Now, with government moving towards the logical conclusion of the policy – 100 per cent academisation – the last, most important element of the academies programme is disappearing as well.
Autonomy – over school staffing, budgets, curriculum and organising the school day – has always been the central reason for promoting and acquiring academy status, but it’s becoming a thing of the past for a growing number of schools. Yet this crucial change has barely been acknowledged, let alone publicly debated or scrutinised..."

"(The) school organisation model evolving under (Nicky Morgan`s) government means more and more academies are actually controlled by tightly run chains offering heads and governors of individual schools less autonomy than even the most domineering local authority used to."

"That, in turn, means that genuine accountability now depends increasingly on how well these chains – or MATs (multi-academy trusts) – are monitored."

"And when official measures look at the performance of individual schools, rather than the unelected, privately controlled chains that run them, then the accountability that has been stressed by Morgan must also be called into question."

"Anyone doubting the lack of autonomy for individual academies under the new system need only listen to the people who run them. Take Mark Ducker, executive principal of Step Academy Trust, a chain of seven South London primaries."

“We need to have standard operational procedure in terms of teaching and learning,” he told TES last year. “Our curriculum needs to be very similar across the group, and our teaching style and our assessment system.”..
"But who is holding them to account? Local authorities were at least run by elected politicians..."

"Ofsted, meanwhile, had to fight hard to gain even limited powers to judge academy chains. And as for the new middle tier – just nine commissioners are monitoring hundreds of MATs and tens of thousands of schools."

"Ministers may talk up school “autonomy and accountability”, but the evidence for their claims is looking decidedly thin."

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