Are academies the way forward?

Academies were the brainchild of Tony Blair and originally designed to replace failing schools. Now new Education Secretary Michael Gove has said that all schools should be given the opportunity to break away from local authority control and become an academy. But will this drive up standards, or create a two-tier system?

Originally called city academies, the Labour Government wanted them to replace failing schools in inner cities – and, latterly, in rural areas too.

Michael Gove, the new Lib-Con Government’s Education Secretary, hopes academies will become “the norm”, and, according to The Guardian, has even said that the Government has “no ideological objection” to businesses seeking profits from the new generation of academy schools and free schools.

Changing the face of education

Dan Moynihan from the Harris Foundation, which runs seven academies, told the BBC that academies would change the face of education in England. He said that getting academy status meant schools could be more flexible and therefore more able to meet the needs of all their pupils. He said the change would free schools from having to “implement endless local authority initiatives”.  And he added that teachers who worked in academies liked the pay and conditions.

Critics say the plan will hand over resource and power from the local authority. “The losers from the complete free-for-all he is proposing will be the majority of schools, those children and parents who deserve a better deal but will see their budgets cut,” former Education Secretary Ed Balls told the BBC.

Dogma

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT said: “These proposals are not about providing high quality education for all. They are purely political ideology and dogma. They are about the break-up of state education, which was the stated aim of the Conservatives before the General Election.

“It is essential that those who care about social justice, fairness and equality, who value public services and care about the future of state education, do not allow this to happen.”

• What’s your view on academies? Over to you….

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