Radio4 More or Less debunks Morgan's claims in her guest post re mass academization

(34 Posts)
Abuelita Sat 02-Apr-16 12:15:45

Radio4 'More or Less' took up the challenge from a Mumsnet poster to fact check claims made by Nicky Morgan in her recent guest post. The programme wasn't convinced by Morgan's rhetoric. For a summary and a link to the programme see my article here:

www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/04/no-evidence-for-academy-success-mumsnet-inspired-check-reveals-empty-rhetoric

BombadierFritz Sat 02-Apr-16 12:19:16

Thanks for this summary. Useful if unsurprising

caroldecker Sat 02-Apr-16 12:45:18

Biased as well. For example, from your blog, There had been his report into Labour’s sponsored secondary academies but it was not possible to apply the findings to mass academization.
He actually said he was loathe to, not that it was not possible.

mummytime Sat 02-Apr-16 12:45:49

Useful.

BombadierFritz Sat 02-Apr-16 13:00:37

Yeah yeah carol, thats british academic speak for 'it would be fucking ridiculous to .....' as you know full well

caroldecker Sat 02-Apr-16 13:08:06

Just mentioning the bias in the blog - not defending the selective use of evidence by Nicky Morgan.
Neither side appears prepared to be honest and say:

There is international evidence that greater freedom given to schools improves outcomes. (see PISA). Centrally elected governments are held to account for school performance but have very little influence due to LA control and, whilst some LA's are excellent, others appear to be run by a bunch of loons. The NUT (other teaching unions are available) complain about interference all the time.
Let's try giving teachers control and see what happens. Early results appear positive, so let's go the whole hog.

Lanark2 Sat 02-Apr-16 13:10:33

I think you are thinking of 'difficult'. 'Difficult' means impossible, 'brave' means 'you are insane', and 'loathe to' means 'don't you ever fucking say I said it was impossible, but it's impossible'.

EvilTwins Sat 02-Apr-16 13:17:52

The biggest myth in the whole academies debate is that academies give teachers more control. That's utter bollocks. There is still a faceless entity at the top running the show - whether that's an LA or a MAT is irrelevant. Teachers in front of classes are still data crunching, marking in sixteen different coloured pens and jumping through hoops at their say so. They're not in control of anything.

Abuelita Sat 02-Apr-16 13:20:11

caroldecker - you criticise my use of 'not possible' instead of 'loathe to' and call it 'biased'. But Machin has expressed annoyancebefore at the way his research co-authored with James Vernoit had been hijacked to show support for the Coalition's academy progress. I wrote about it here and gave a link to Machin's Guardian article www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/04/using-evidence-from-labour%E2%80%99s-sponsored-academies-to-justify-government%E2%80%99s-programme-of-converter-academies-is-%E2%80%9Cstep-too-far%E2%80%9D-says-academic
I therefore stand by my use of 'not possible' instead of 'loathe to' since that's what Machin himself has said in the past.

Abuelita Sat 02-Apr-16 13:30:42

caroldecker - you're right that the OECD found that school systems which allowed their schools increased autonomy tended to do better in PISA tests. But what you didn't mention (and neither does this Government or the last one) is that the OECD found in 2009 that the UK was one of only four countries which gave a high degree of autonomy to its schools in spending the budget, resource allocation and hiring of staff. 2009 is, of course, before the year when Michael Gove became education secretary said schools could only become free if they left bureaucratic local authority control.

But LAs don't control their schools - they haven't done so since Local Management of Schools was introduced over a quarter of a century ago if they ever did (my experience as a new teacher starting in 1979 was that I was given a degree of autonomy in what and how I taught that today's teachers can only dream about, but that's an anecdote).

Academies have very little actual extra freedom - the Academies Commission 2013 found non-academies can do most things academies can do. And academies in chains have fewer freedoms than schools under LA stewardship - decisions are made centrally at trust level and not by individual heads (unless the trust wishes to do so but then it is in their gift).

Abuelita Sat 02-Apr-16 13:37:46

EvilTwins - LAs don't 'run the whole show' (see my post above). All LAs do for schools under their stewardship is to employ (but NOT hire) staff and do some administrative and legal work on behalf of their schools. This allows schools not to be distracted by having to cope with charity and company law.

That said, you're correct that teachers aren't in control. They're hamstrung by tests, national curriculum (even academies have to follow this to some extent because children are tested on it), and Ofsted policing (if not by mandating coloured pens for marking - inspectors don't do this - but by being influenced by results). And teachers in multi-academy trusts can be told exactly what to teach and when by having an imposed curriculum and even how to teach it.

EvilTwins Sat 02-Apr-16 13:47:29

I know. You are correct. The "autonomy" argument is a pile of crap.

mummytime Sat 02-Apr-16 15:02:02

The total academisation of schools has * nothing* to do with giving schools more control. At times the government gives schools a bit more control eg. allowing iGCSEs, then it quickly grabs it back = only government approved iGCSEs count towards league tables.
A local curriculum is not allowed. The number of vocational subjects and ways of studying has been reduced during the 9/10 years so far my DC have gone through secondary school.
Making all schools academies will reduce choice, and lead to less of a free market.
And ultimately seems to be part of the aim to take power away from parents and local areas and give it all to government ministers.

StealthPolarBear Sat 02-Apr-16 15:15:22

I can't see the quote but surely the phrase is 'loath to'

caroldecker Sat 02-Apr-16 15:25:45

MAT's can be controlled by teachers, or even unions. If people on this thread and elsewhere think it can be done better, then they can do so. That is the whole point, successful MAT's can/will be copied.
iGCSE's are allowed, the just do not count towards the league tables. Better for the school to educate the parents - many private schools do the igcse and IB qualifications and end up nowhere on the league tables because of this - but no parent cares.

mummytime Sat 02-Apr-16 16:53:34

Ahhhhhhh but if your exam results "seem" to drop, then this can trigger an Ofsted inspection. My DCs school has not been inspected for 10 years, even though officially the old school shut and the new one is a totally different school (it became an academy).
Also state schools will still be required to make their pupils keep sitting English and Maths until they have a GCSE in the subjects, as far as I know an iGCSE sat in a state school will not do (but will for HE-ers and Private school pupils).

caroldecker Sat 02-Apr-16 17:34:33

mummytime Can you show where that information is from? There is no need to keep sitting the exam, only to keep studying the subject, and it does not need to be GSCE syllabus.
Also, I would be very surprised is private school pupils with IGCSE moving to state 6th forms will need to keep studying maths and english.

JeanPadget Sat 02-Apr-16 17:35:02

Graun is reporting a backbench rebellion. Please God, let it be true.....

pointythings Sat 02-Apr-16 18:45:25

link here.

These plans need binning, fast. What we really need is a ten-year moratorium on any further tinkering with the UK education system so that we can get a proper look at what works and what doesn't, and then plan based on evidence not on what is best for Tory cronies.

Tryingtosaveup Sat 02-Apr-16 19:54:45

I think teachers don't want academies because they will no longer have their national, protected pay scale. They just pretend it is about the children. The doctors are the same. They claim their issues are about patient care, but they are really striking about changes to their pay.

spanieleyes Sat 02-Apr-16 20:14:23

Schools, even LA controlled ones, can already set their own pay policy, there is no such thing as a national protected pay scale any more.

Abuelita Sun 03-Apr-16 08:26:34

caroldecker - MATs are controlled by their trustees. There are not likely to be a majority of teachers among the trustees. The executive principal (ie the principal of all the academies in the MAT) will be among the trustees and will normally act as its accounting officer. There may be other academy heads among the trustees but very few, if any, ordinary teachers. There will, however, be people such as accountants, lawyers, consultants, project managers etc on MAT trusts which is only to be expected as MATs are both charities and companies.

It's highly unlikely any MAT would be dominated by the 'unions' .

Abuelita Sun 03-Apr-16 08:32:30

caroldecker - new rules were introduced in 2013 which made it mandatory for pupils who didn't get a C or above in Maths and/or English to resit GCSEs in these subjects until they get a C. www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/23925921/new-rules-on-english-and-maths-gcse-changes-explained

Abuelita Sun 03-Apr-16 08:40:28

Tryingtosaveup - there is a recruitment and retention crisis in teaching at the moment. This isn't helped by paying teachers less than they could earn in other graduate-level jobs (unless they are executive principals in academy chains, of course, where they can set their own inflated pay). Neither is it helped by accusing teachers of acting selfishly when they point out, as I have done, that there's no evidence that academy conversion is a magic bullet for improvement. The majority of teachers (and doctors) work incredibly hard often to the detriment of their own families and their health. But then they're just selfish, aren't they?

MumTryingHerBest Sun 03-Apr-16 10:20:47

caroldecker Sat 02-Apr-16 13:08:06 Just mentioning the bias in the blog

yet none of your posts on the topic of academisation address/highlight the bias in the communications presented by the government. Do you not think that perhaps you too are showing a little bias in this respect?

not defending the selective use of evidence by Nicky Morgan.

I see so it’s “selective use of evidence” not bias then.

Neither side appears prepared to be honest and say: There is international evidence that greater freedom given to schools improves outcomes. (see PISA).

Perhaps you can tell us all how many of those Countries that have seen improved outcomes through greater freedom, have achieved this through forced blanket academisation?

whilst some LA's are excellent, others appear to be run by a bunch of loons.

I think the same can be said about MATs is going the same way.

Let's try giving teachers control and see what happens.

There is no evidence that forced blanket academisation will achieve this.

Early results appear positive, so let's go the whole hog.

Can you provide the evidence to support your claim?

iGCSE's are allowed, the just do not count towards the league tables. Better for the school to educate the parents - many private schools do the igcse and IB qualifications and end up nowhere on the league tables because of this

And when the league tables are missing large numbers of state schools, you think the government will do nothing but sit back and see their valued measuring tool become worthless. Oh yes, I can so see that happening.

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