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.