Have we have returned to “olden” times, when anyone with the money or the power could set up schools and educate our country’s children entirely according to their own personal philosophy, and not one answerable to the public?
This time it’s Bruntcliffe School in Morley, which is joining the Gorse Academy Group (YEP, February 13), this empire beginning with Morley School itself.
No one thinks our schools are perfect, but in my experience and opinion they are generally doing a good job, and often in challenging circumstances.
When I taught it was the children who presented the challenges, but now it is the powers that be.
And increasingly the powers that be are not our elected representatives.
From Ofsted to academies’ chiefs, these are most certainly undemocratic.
And, as well-intentioned as Gorse Academy principal John Townsley MBE most certainly is, no one voted for him to make any educational decisions on their behalf.
We now have a situation where people who live in Morley are no longer able to send their child to “school” in Morley.
The recent parliamentary Education Select Committee reports that there is “no evidence of academies improving standards at a faster rate than other schools.”
Furthermore Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, is “concerned about the scope for unacceptable behaviour” as far as how academies are run.
Academisation is not an educational philosophy; it is part of the privatisation of a public service.
It is millions of pounds’ worth of land and buildings being handed over to private individuals and businesses.
And it is only the start. Education should be about individual children’s needs, not their schools’ ranking in some quite unscientific league table.
Academies are not just free of local authority control, they are out of control – and the sooner that all schools return to public ownership and public accountability, the better.