Why Do We Need Academies? An Exploration of the Move towards this Educational Model

The government has never hidden its absolute pride and joy in the educational model called Academies. Indeed, we would not have to look far to find evidence of its championing of this ‘cause’. From government led documents, we could take the following:

Academies are publicly funded independent schools.

Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times. They still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.

Academies get money direct from the government, not the local council. They’re run by an academy trust which employs the staff.

Some academies have sponsors such as businesses, universities, other schools, faith groups or voluntary groups. Sponsors are responsible for improving the performance of their schools.

To many, this may sound quite inoffensive and perhaps quite efficient and modern; after all, it talks of not having to follow the national curriculum and setting own term times. This may create in the reader’s mind romantic ideas of ‘freedom of choice’. In looking closer however, it would be pertinent to recommend a closer look at the last paragraph above. With Sponsorship comes responsibility and if this responsibility is to other businesses, it appears that this freedom of choice comes at a high price, the standard of education of future generations. What was once an education system is being adapted to becoming a business driven by cost savings, efficiencies and profits.

There is much political chuntering which purports to the need for school improvement and how this may be driven forwards, few of us as parents would disagree here, there is always room for improvement. We have to question however this constant use of filters. As written by W Mansell in The Guardian Online, 4 March 2014;

Late last month, the DfE rejected a call from the NGA – which had been backed by the all-party Commons education select committee – for schools to receive £25,000 towards the cost of federating in groups under the auspices of a local authority.

Under the more formal version of a non-academy federation, introduced in 2002 under Labour, schools that may need to collaborate to drive improvement or to share senior staff do so under a single governing body.

Currently, only schools wanting to federate by joining together in an academy trust can receive the £25,000 on offer from the government – even though the DfE claims that it has never tried to stop schools collaborating. But Emma Knights, the NGA’s chief executive, sees the move not to provide parity of funding to non-academy federations as “shortsighted”, and an indication of the DfE’s belief that academy status is the only route to school improvement.

In reality, the choice is being removed with these monstrous models of Academies being introduced with full government support. It does beg the question, why do we need Academies for School Improvement? With investment in the existing models surely improvement may be equally achieved. This is an important issue that needs support, present and future generations deserve a quality education driven by motivated, quality professionals.

@codeylearns December 2014

Questions may be directed to jacquigold@freedomroadcollege.org.uk

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