Saturday, 13 October 2012

Spinning the Academies

In September 7 the Yorkshire Evening Post gave the David Young Academy, Leeds a bit of gratuitous spin, and this needs closer examination. The title “Blazing a trail away from council control with the help of academy revolution” makes it look like a good thing.  The article goes on to describe academies as having “greater freedom to set their curriculum, admission criteria, holiday times and employment policies.”  Well . . .

1. The curriculum is set by central government, not by the local council. 2. I can’t see how filling the Pupil Referral Units up with your reject students is a good thing. 3. Setting your own holiday times is a recipe for chaos: How would you manage family holidays, and childcare etc if schools broke up at different times. How would neighbouring schools plan for primary /high school transfer? 4. Setting your own employment policies means quite clearly that you don’t need to have qualified teachers, and you can pay them whatever.

 A word of warning to this and any school contemplating academy status on the grounds it will make anything at all better.  Recent research [by T Wrigley and A Kalambouka, from the universities of Manchester and Leeds] demonstrates that academies get 1. more children and 2. good results where the schools they replaced were 1. Already popular, and 2. Already got good results, or were already improving.

And actually we didn’t need pages of academic research to tell us that. We are watching our once great all-included public education system unravel before our very eyes. Time we had an education secretary who has a clue and gives a damn.

[Here's a random picture of Clippy].

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