Are academy opponents ‘enemies of promise’?

The education secretary Michael Gove described those opposed to schools becoming academies as “the same old ideologues pushing the same old ideology of failure and mediocrity” in a speech last week. But opponents say academies are not about improvement, but part of an ideologically driven agenda to dismantle our current system of local accountability for education. Who’s right? Read more and have your say .

Michael Gove, who the Guardian points out is often described by his adversaries as an ideologue, entitled his speech ‘Who are the ideologues now?’ and opened by suggesting that academy opponents are “blighting futures and limiting horizons”:

“Last month, a headline appeared in the Hornsey Journal – a headline that would have been funny had its subtext not been so dispiriting. Stamped across the top of the page in stark, Nimrod Bold lettering were the words:

‘Campaigners: Hands off our failing school.’

Just think about that for a moment…

Futures are being blighted. Horizons are being limited. Generations of children are being let down. And yet the response of those ‘campaigners’ to an attempt to rescue the situation is ‘hands off.’”

1,250,000 pupils attend academies

He said that there are now 1529 academies open in England, with 45 per cent of all maintained secondary schools either open or in the pipeline to become academies, with over 1,250,000 pupils now attending an academy. While most local authorities are being co-operative and constructive, he said some were being obstructive.

“They are putting the ideology of central control ahead of the interests of children. They are more concerned with protecting old ways of working than helping the most disadvantaged children succeed in the future. Anyone who cares about social justice must want us to defeat these ideologues and liberate the next generation from a history of failure.”

‘insult to dedicated staff’

But commenting on Michael Gove’s speech, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said that government’s assertion that opponents of academies are ‘happy with failure’ was an insult to dedicated school staff.

“If academy status brought the benefits claimed by the government why have so few of England’s schools opted to convert?” she said.

“The forced academy programme is about bullying schools into academy status against the wishes of school communities and their local authorities who are best placed to judge what support any particular school may need, not an external sponsor with an eye to the future profits to be made out of the government’s programme of privatising England’s schools.

“The academy programme is wrecking local education authority services to schools, including school improvement services. Each time a school becomes an academy, funding is removed from the LEA, reducing services and support to remaining schools.

“It has nothing to do with school improvement but is part of an ideologically driven agenda to dismantle our current system of local accountability for education.”

‘Secretary of State for Academies and Free Schools ‘

Speaking for the NASUWT, general secretary Chris Keates said: “As it is clear that Michael Gove now considers himself to be the Secretary of State for Academies and Free Schools, rather than the Secretary of State for Education, questions need to be raised about who exactly is promoting the interests of the other 22,000 schools and the children and young people who attend them.”

Do you support academies? What are the advantages, or the disadvantages? Share your views and comment.


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