Are England’s academies becoming a cash cow for business? Staff at Colchester Academy in Essex received a letter in the post last June. Cleaning, catering and building maintenance at the struggling school were to be outsourced to a private company. The academy had been taken over 11 weeks previously by Bright Tribe Multi-Academy Trust, a government-favoured academy chain established by venture capitalist Mike Dwan, which has ambitions to run more than 200 schools. Bright Tribe had always intended to review auxiliary services at the school, staff were told. Now the takeover of the academy had been completed, a company with the right “resources and infrastructure” had been selected. The winner was a “national facilities management company” called Blue Support.
It was not necessarily a surprise that a profit-making business was being brought in. But in a meeting between union officials and Blue Support executives shortly after the letter arrived, a diligent, if overworked, Unison official admitted to being puzzled. 2014 Headteacher salaries soar. For my next trick… – Distant Ramblings on the Horizon. When a magician waves a pack of cards in front of your face and tells you to watch them closely you know that you really should be watching what he’s doing with the other hand. You do know that, don’t you?
Here’s a sample of the headlines that greeted a short interview the Secretary of State gave to the BBC: BBC News – “Government climbdown over forced academies plan in England” The Telegraph – “David Cameron announces U-turn on academies following Tory rebellion” The Guardian – “Government backs down over plan to make all schools in England academies” The Daily Mail – “Nicky Morgan reveals humiliating U-turn on controversial plans to force all schools to become academies” So, its all good, right? Er, no. Remember what I said about the magician? So look at the detail. Remember how the question about forced academisation was always “Well how on earth are they going to do that? Let me set the scene. Primaries are a different kettle of fish. Do you see how the trick works? Like this: Theconversation. Nicky Morgan faced a grilling from MPs on the House of Commons Education Select Committee on April 27 to answer questions – some positive and intended to be helpful and some hostile – about the government’s recent education white paper.
The secretary of state for education had faced an earlier bruising Commons encounter with backbenchers, and teacher demonstrations against compulsory academisation. The greatest opposition to the white paper is to its proposal for the compulsory conversion of all schools in England to academy status by 2022. Some, including members of the Conservative party, are asking for a reversal of the compulsory element of the programme. Others, such as those on the demonstration, just want it reversed. But it is worth considering just how significant compulsory conversion is and whether it is the most important matter facing English schools. No one model Some trusts, including ones where I have conducted interviews, are centrally managed.
Democratic deficit. Research and policy on the optimal size range and growth of multi-academy trusts - a Freedom of Information request to Department for Education. Dear Mr StinchcombeThank you for your request for information, which was received on 17 March 2016. You requested our research findings on, and current policy and/or guidance for regional schools' commissioners on: * the optimal size range for multi-academy trusts under foreseeable funding constraints; * the management of growth in multi-academy trustsI have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act").
With reference to research findings, in May 2014 the department produced a briefing report for academy sponsors called What Does a High Performing Academy Sponsor Look Like. This report summarises our analysis of the work of 88 sponsors (multi-academy trusts or MATs) responsible for more than 3 schools and describes the growth behaviour of high-performing MATs. In applying section 35(1)(a) we considered the balance of the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosing the information.
Yours sincerely Helen Pledger. Education white paper: what would a fully academised system look like? It has been just over a month since Educational Excellence Everywhere – the government’s education white paper – was published. In a document that covers topics ranging from teacher training to school funding, unsurprisingly the greatest amount of attention has been paid to the proposal that all schools will be required to become academies by 2022, or earlier. While in some sense a continuation along a path already being followed, it’s worth considering a couple of things to get a sense of scale, so that we can understand quite how significant or otherwise the plan set out in the white paper is. Charting the total number of open academies, the first thing that becomes clear is the change in scale between the early years of the academies programme – when, up until September 2008, there were still fewer than 100 such schools – and the period since 2010, when the Coalition government allowed high-performing schools to voluntarily convert to academy status.
Notes 1. R115. Academy accounts 'uncertain', warns spending watchdog. Image copyright Crown Copyright The Department for Education has been severely reprimanded by the National Audit Office for failing to properly account for spending by academies. The DfE has just published its accounts for 2014-15, nine months after every other government department. The NAO says there is a level of "misstatement and uncertainty" that means the truth and fairness of the accounts cannot be verified. The DfE says academies are subject to a "rigorous system of accountability". While there is no suggestion that academies have misspent money, the NAO report warns that the rapid expansion of the academies programme in England has made it difficult to keep track of spending and land.
It also says the situation is likely to get worse given the government's drive to turn all schools in England into academies by 2020, or for them to have a plan to do so by 2022. "And the financial statements do not present a true and fair view and meet the accountability requirements of Parliament. 10 key findings from the DfE’s accounts: Bonuses, data breaches and lots more pay-offs. The Department for Education (finally) published its annual accounts yesterday. As expected, it wasn’t good news. The government’s spending watchdog said the accounts lacked “truth and fairness”. You can read the background on why they were submitted late here. Schools Week has taken a forensic look at what the rest of the accounts tell us… 1.
The department has written off nearly £10 million this year alone – up from £2.8 million last year. Any losses over £300,000 have to be documented in the accounts. 2. Schools Week has led the way in exposing a raft of problems now being felt by the toxic legacy of paying private firms to build schools. The accounts show the DfE actually paid local authorities less cash last year to cover their PFI costs (contract repayments to the firms that built or refurbished schools over 25 years).
The amount of cash passed on fell from £15 billion to £14.3 billion. But the DfE’s direct PFI costs have doubled, up from £891 million to £1.6 billion. 3. 4. 6. 7. 8. 9. Is the Department for Education fit for purpose? Image copyright Getty Images Yesterday evening, the Department for Education announced that it was cancelling a school test for half a million primary school children in spelling, grammar and punctuation.
It emerged that the DfE had uploaded some test papers online. Indeed, they were presented as practice material, which meant the maximum possible number of test-takers would have seen them. It's not been a good week at Sanctuary Buildings. The DfE also received a roasting from the National Audit Office, the body which assists parliament in assuring value for money. In fact, it's been a while since they had good news. Earlier this month, the DfE announced its finding that similar children, presented with different tests, were giving a different pattern of answers - so much so that the results from them could not be compared. Image copyright Evening Standard / Getty A longstanding weak link This streak of mistakes is long.
Some of its decision-making is baffling. Image copyright PA. Stop Demonising Academies | @oldandrewuk. Andrew is a teacher and editor of Labour Teachers (and writing in a personal capacity). The government’s plan to make all schools convert to academy status over the next 6 years is an example of the sort of policy-making that gives politicians a bad name.
It creates huge disruption and uncertainty without having any clear benefits. But in the debate following the announcement, I have found myself frequently more annoyed by some of the critics of the plan than by the government. The reason for this is simple: I work for an academy. Two things have really annoyed me in the last few days. I can sort of guess where some of the claims here are coming from. Then, this morning, I saw Labour’s shadow education secretary retweet a link to this story from the Independent website with the following headlines: I was amazed to learn that: “we now have a move to deliberately exclude poor students from the best state education”. Academies are sometimes good, sometimes bad, just like LA schools. R115. Long-Run Trends in School Spending in England. The REAL reason behind forced academisation.
Why are the Conservatives intent on making every school into an academy? It’s not about standards, it’s all about the money, writes Mike Cameron. It is becoming clear to anyone with even a passing understanding of the issues that academisation is not a universal panacea that cures all of a schools ills. The evidence we have suggests the overall performance of schools will, on average, remain unchanged. Nor, if schools follow the Department for Education’s preferred option and join a MAT, is it a creator of autonomy for those working in the school.
So it is a legitimate question to ask how did we get from the Conservative Manifesto (“So we will continue to expand academies…) to the Education White Paper (“By the end of 2022, local authorities will no longer maintain schools”) in the space of less than a year? If school performance isn’t the reason for making schools into academies, is it purely ideological? Why now do something ideological and unpopular with many voters and Tory MPs? A fragmented system, a teacher drought and 8 other challenges of total academisation. A lot has been said and written about the proposal in the government’s White paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, for a fully academised system. Opponents point out that one size does not necessarily fit all, and wonder why schools which are doing perfectly well under local authority control should be forced to become academies. These are good points and we would urge the government to relax the compulsory requirement when it brings forward its White paper proposals.
We would strongly encourage ministers to allow federated groups of maintained schools alongside multi-academy trusts. Groups of schools have the potential to create the conditions for deep and sustainable partnerships that build professional capacity, collaborative learning and joint practice development, and have collective responsibility for pupils’ outcomes.
In the meantime, however, I’d like to set out the top 10 challenges of the proposed fully academised system, as I see them, and suggest some solutions: We must not freeze parents out of the academies revolution Co-operative schools: an answer to forced academization? | Steve Watson. I would like to thank Mark Merrywest, Eastern Region Director of the Co-operative Schools Network for his contribution to this post I became interested in co-operative schools after speaking to a colleague from the Educational Leadership and School Improvement academic group in the Faculty of Education here in Cambridge. I mentioned I had been writing about my experience of teaching in a school in special measures in North East Lincolnshire. I explained my interest in shared leadership, stakeholder and community participation and governance.
He alerted to me to the existence of a growing movement of co-operative schools. My purpose for writing this post is to argue that co-operative schools present a viable solution to address some of the fundamental issues in educational reform. I have a long-term (albeit passing) interest in mutualization. Education Excellence (and Mutuals) Everywhere In the White Paper, Government proposes to academize all schools in England by 2022.
Notes: References. Is effective teaching taking place in Academies? | Roger Titcombe's Learning Matters. The government has increasingly involved itself, not only in what must be taught in schools, but how it must be taught. The schools minister, Nick Gibb, regularly talks about teaching methods that have been proven to work and implies that these are more likely to be found in academies run by Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) than in LA schools supported by LA inspector/advisors. The one certainty about education is that everybody has a view. This is because everybody has either been to school, been excluded from a school or taken out of a school by their parents. This being the case, anecdotal evidence is the major influence on lay opinion.
It is only to be expected that this will apply to the general public, but what about Academy Executive Principals, the Chief Executives of MATs and the Department for Education? The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF The following is from the EEF website The problem we want to tackle – the attainment gap Our approach to tackling it Very Effective Conclusions. Saudi oil tycoon revealed as investor in schools company. Arguments for Schools Privatisation: Is This Really The Best You Can Do? | Disappointed Idealist.
The outraged reaction to the Government’s plans to privatise all our state schools by forcing them to become franchises of private companies called “Multi-Academy Trusts” continues apace. Tory councillors, the Financial Times and even the Economist have now criticised the plans. The response to the White Paper has been one of genuine shock that a government department could produce such an odious document of propaganda, fantasy and downright lies. Meanwhile, Morgan was openly laughed at as she went to the NASUWT conference to explain to teachers that the recruitment and retention crisis has nothing to do with her own Government’s policies, but was because the unions were “too negative”.
Oh dear. We’re just tidying up the system This argument is that it’s inefficient or confusing to have both an LEA system and an academies system running alongside each other. Illogical Rating: 10/10 for madness of “solution”. Total Score: 15 Goves The Education System after the Govians have “tidied it up” Co-operative schools: an answer to forced academization? | Steve Watson. A democratic education system for social justice and equality: the case of a coastal a school | Steve Watson. One thing I have noticed in my relative short time working here in Cambridge is that it is a strongly democratic university. Or at least it aspires to be. There is broad discussion over issues, where, especially if they are contentious, members of the university are asked to vote to reach a decision.
Last year there was much debate over the funding of a chair to commemorate the life and work of Stephen Hawking. Potentially 3000 academics and academic-related staff could vote as Members of the Roll of the Regent House. Another feature is the academic freedoms that individuals working in the University enjoy, with which I feel a sense of duty and responsibility. I am proud of the values the institution preserves and sustains and, of course, very proud of the university of which I am part. All of this, I feel, brings out the best in me as a professional. Now you may very well point out that I work in an elite institution and as such it is in a unique position. Notes  Au, W. (2007). Education in england 2016 web.
Joining the dots – Distant Ramblings on the Horizon. Education in england 2016 web. The Schools Business. Building Trust – Distant Ramblings on the Horizon. Academies guilty of the most blatant gaming of all: a school place only for the brightest. Democratic fightback against forced academisation of schools | Letters. Eleven odd things about the education White Paper. Department for education short guide. Even Tory councillors are up in arms. Osborne should leave schools alone | Simon Jenkins | Opinion. The ‘nationalisation’ of schools. We need to talk about structures. A MATter of Trust – Distant Ramblings on the Horizon. The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Schools. Or “Of Course It’s Bloody Privatisation” | Disappointed Idealist. Educational Excellence Everywhere. George Osborne just announced the biggest appropriation of Church land since the Reformation. Parents out, chief executives in: our schools will be anything but free | Peter Wilby | Opinion.
Hey Britain - Your Kids Have Just Been Privatised. The academy programme makes no economic sense unless privatisation is planned. This academies plan doesn’t address schools’ real problems | Laura McInerney | Opinion. 'I will be the last person in England dragged kicking and screaming to be an academy head' Theconversation. White Paper: ‘The mantra used to be that parents know best. Now it turns out that it’s the education secretary’ Moral imperatives for our schooling system by Brian Lightman | NET BLOG. What’s the purpose of education? Evaluation of Teaching schools FINAL FOR PUB 25 feb final. CfBT Schools Trust to pull sponsorship from three failing schools so local trusts can take over. ‘There’s something rotten in the state of school admissions – and it’s affecting poor kids the most’
Senior executives leave struggling academy chain – and take big payoff with them | Warwick Mansell. ‘When Governments ask for the World’ | tenpencemore. 1.1 Young. The academy effect. Academies are the government’s childlike solution – to everything | ATL Speak Out! Chain Effects 2015. Some academy sponsors are ‘harming’ prospects of deprived pupils, report claims.