These days, our local paper [Yorkshire Evening Post] is covering the academy debate quite regularly and quite thoroughly. Usually the paper doesn't take sides in these debates, but it seems to have been quite shocked by the lack of democracy involved as the state in the form of Michael Gove [idiot member of shaky government - my opinion, not YEP's] gives away public land, public buildings, and in fact the very task of educating the next generation to private businesses.
I wrote the following letter [published 25 November 2011] in response to one such debate.
In your article [18/11/11] the YEP asks, “Are academies right for our kids?”. Answer, of course not. And, very significantly, out of four people interviewed, three were not in favour.
An obsession with competition is driving the politicians of this country to interfere with Education to a point, light years beyond their ability to understand how it works.
Consultation has never been anything more than a public meeting where men in grey suits [and the occasional woman] listen with vary degrees of politeness and barely concealed irritation while parents consumed with anxiety, try to articulate their feelings.
Grey suit, Mr Gareth Dawkins, is an executive principal [the title suggests lots of income, not too much child contact] and he suggests that ´becoming an academy gives you the freedom to tailor your school to the needs of the community it serves,” . Given that becoming an academy also gives you the freedom to “choose up to 10% of the pupils based on their aptitude”, I think we find that becoming an academy actually gives you the freedom to choose the community that you need.
Mr Executive principal goes to say, “Just before we became an academy, 19 people had been excluded permanently in the previous year, now that figure has gone down to zero.” Durr, Gareth, they were all excluded the previous year!
But where can the public turn for help? Balls and Gove – what’s to choose between them? Well, time! The great advantage of becoming an academy, under the Balls regime has now gone. Being an academy buys time. It delays the point at which anybody with half a GCSE might conclude that academies don’t work. We can now see that, thanks in no small part to the survey done by Price, Waterhouse and Cooper, becoming an academy does not, per se, improve exam results. And actually we should know that there is a lot more to Life and Education than tests.
All academisation does, is, for a short while, bring in an small extra amount of money, and at the expense of all the state schools. I see, on the Prince Henry’s website that the head says that as the school buys in very few of the central services, the money would be better used elsewhere. That’s a bit like says that you are not going to contribute to the upkeep of the communal fire-engine because you’re not planning on having a fire.
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA, Leeds teacher, school governor