Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Michael Gove is inviting all State schools to become Academies. This means that they find a private sponsor (who pays £2 million) and gets a little bit of say in what's taught (they don't have to follow every part of the National Curriculum, just the Maths, English and Science bits), the new school building if there is going to be one and what the school will 'specialise' in (all Schools nowadays are supposed to have a speciality- don't send yours to one that is a School of the Performing Arts if you want them to do well at Maths rather than dancing about like the kids from Fame). Funding comes direct to the school, cutting out the Local Authority and their army of advisers, facilitators, outreach officers etc etc. which means that they get more money. Each school is allowed to select up to 10% of their pupils by ability in their specialism.

It's probably true that the majority of teachers don't like the idea. Chris Keates of the NASUWT said that it was a 'costly and unnecessary solution to a problem that does not exist' (she has obviously never visited my school) and that it was wrong not to allow Local Authorities to have a say (My Local Authority can barely empty the bins never mind run schools). Mind you, she wasn't very happy about proposals to get rid of all those quangos that cheerfully wasted vast sums of money without any obvious return, either.

Now I'm sure that there will be problems with the odd loon trying to sponsor a school so that they can try and get some bizarre idea taught, whether it's Flat Earth Theory, Creationism or the Joy of Jihad. However it's easy to look up a sponsor's details nowadays and overall I can't help but think that it's an idea worth trying. Academies might not be the ideal solution, but at least they offer a chance of improvement without massive cost to the taxpayer. Let's face it; they can hardly do much worse than many of the schools we have at the moment.


Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

That's very helpful of the NASUWT. Since almost everything they say is completely wrong, we now know Mr Gove has some good ideas.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder two things about 'specialist' schools.

1) How do the teachers of anything other than the specialist subject feel

2) Is it my imagination or are there fewer schools that specialise in Maths, Science etc than there are that specialise in 'performing arts etc'.

Dack said...

Most candidates of late for posts at my school are trying to get out of academy schools. A local recently metamorphosed academy school can't get enough applicants - to the extent that they've had to go crawling back to the staff they sacked to cover them in the interim.

It's all contracts, even fewer rights and more responsibility, less protection from abuse, longer hours inc weekends, more data and targets, more pastoral involvement... I'm not one to defend bad teachers or bad schools but if you think conditions can be bad now you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Be careful what you wish for.

Torbon Nipolag said...

What about the academies in Gateshead and Doncaster which are sponsored/owned by the Vardy family of millionaire car dealers? It just happens that they are Christian fundamentalists.

Torbon Nipolag said...

And another thing. I wonder if the government/DfES etc. would be as keen to allow/laud academies set up by fundamentalists from other faiths.

phatboy said...

Two questions, that I hope somebody can answer for me.

1. Why are school specialising? My son is only a baby, but when he goes to school I want him to learn everything well not a couple of subjects well and the rest mediocily (is that a word... how should it be spelt... maybe my son should learn that).

2. How do the private sponsers make money out of these schools? I'm assuming that the companies sponsering schools aren't doing it because they feel like being nice (I'm pretty sure that would be a breach of their obligations to their share holders under the Companies Act).