Nicky Morgan's thread continued (MNers calling for Lucy Powell to do webchat)

(303 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

Mner Wed 23-Mar-16 10:32:41

Following on from Nicky Morgan MP's one sided "webchat" see here...

Active petitions against academisation are here:
petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124702
petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124747

Guardian article is here

You can write to your MP: www.writetothem.com/

Good luck to everyone at the demonstrations today. I can't attend

MuddhaOfSuburbia Wed 23-Mar-16 10:51:29

Thanks Mner

I can't go today either but I really hope there's a good turn out

I am not only concerned about forced academisation, I'm also concerned that there's SOOOOO much opposition to it that just the process of trying to shove it through will be an awful disruption to our kids education- and that's before the academies are even set up

I do think this could end up being this lot's poll tax

Lemonsole Wed 23-Mar-16 10:55:08

Good luck to everyone at the protests today.

Our primary school, where I am a (parent) governor, relies on our LEA for our back office support and ICT provision. We can be confident that they're not ripping us off.

We have a lot of vulnerable children in our intake; Ofsted rate us as Good - but only just. Our LEA provides our head with the advice and support of a critical friend that inspectors used to do, before Ofsted were designated the dementors of the educational world.

Our LEA was providing healthy, locally-sourced lunches years before Jamie got his knickers in a twizzle over them.

Our County architect meant that the two-class extension that we needed is a beautiful building that meets our needs, and which complements our Victorian building. It's not been done as cheaply as possible, either.

Our LEA admissions process is fair, striking a balance between parents' wants in an area where pressure for places is fierce. It's often cited positively in Education threads here because it places in-catchment children over out-of-catchment siblings. People like it. Our church school is proud to be voluntary controlled - meaning that we accurately reflect the whole of the local community that we serve - and don't covertly try to manipulate entries into a favourable, privileged group or exclude children with more challenging needs.

But what do I know? As a parent governor, how can I possibly have the skills needed by a governing body? Nicky Morgan should be ashamed of her implied slur on parent governors everywhere, by deciding that it is so unlikely that parents will have the requisite skills, that she might as well do away with that important angle of transparency in governance and community involvement.

I wonder what would happen if a group of schools were to state that they wished their academy sponsor to be their LEA? We would.

JWIM Wed 23-Mar-16 11:08:34

Lemonsole the White Paper says that the Regional School Commissioner will sign off MATs. The limit by 'geographical area' will be looked on adversely.

I think we may have the same LA. I would fully support your comments about the service provided to education by our LA.

Peregrina Wed 23-Mar-16 11:24:25

Cuts/austerity are fine when it's stealing money from the disabled, but when it comes to forced conversion to Academies, money will be no object, it seems.

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 11:43:20

Lemonsole: ^"But what do I know? As a parent governor, how can I possibly have the skills needed by a governing body? Nicky Morgan should be ashamed of her implied slur on parent governors everywhere, by deciding that it is so unlikely that parents will have the requisite skills, that she might as well do away with that important angle of transparency in governance and community involvement"^

Have you read the White Paper Lemonsole? The bit about parent governors has been mis-reported in some instances. What it actually says is this:

"3.30. We will expect all governing boards to focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance, and so we will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards. We will offer this freedom to all open and new academies, and as we move towards a system where every school is an academy, fully skills-based governance will become the norm across the education system.
3.31. Parents often have these skills and many parents already play a valuable role in governance – and will always be encouraged to serve on governing boards. We will also expect every academy to put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback."

I read that as parents can be governors if they have the appropriate skills (and if they don't they will still have a voice in any case). I'm no fan of Nicky Morgan but I think this is a good change because a lot of people are put off applying to be governors by the playground-election approach. Instead schools will need to be upfront about what skills they are looking for to complete their governing body, and parents should be able to apply along with others. I think many will be more likely to apply if they know they have the specific skills that are being asked for.

Natsku Wed 23-Mar-16 11:43:22

Good luck to those protesting today, wish I could join you.

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 11:48:16

*Lemonsole: "I wonder what would happen if a group of schools were to state that they wished their academy sponsor to be their LEA? We would"*

But that is already happening in LAs that have taken a pragmatic approach to the academy legislation. LAs can have up to a 19% stake in an academy trust. See The Kingston Academy and the Richmond Upon Thames School as examples.

In those cases the LA initiated the free school proposals, and brought together the other partners (some of whom already work closely with the LA at other local convertor academies). These are effectively LA sponsored schools, moulded to fit the new legislation.

JWIM Wed 23-Mar-16 12:13:10

Planetarium so for those LAs that wish to promote the academy/free school route the legislation is already in place. They can make that choice. Other LAs have taken a different path.

What is not acceptable, surely, is to compel everyone to follow the 'all must be academies' route unless the evidence is produced to show that only academy schools produce pupil progress and attainment consistently that meet the targets set and other providers (LA maintained) don't.

Mner Wed 23-Mar-16 12:18:19

MNHQ have you/can you put in a request to Lucy Powell?

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 12:25:02

JWIM I agree with you there. I don't think the system is ready for compulsory academisation when there is so much opposition. Pragmatic councils like the ones I highlighted will make a success out of whatever system is in place, but there will be others that dig in their heels - determined to prove Nicky Morgan wrong. It's going to be an interesting few years!

JWIM Wed 23-Mar-16 12:31:00

But why do the LAs like the one I live in, that are making a success of the system in place be seen to be 'digging their heels in' because they challenge the compulsory change. If their results for children already outstrip the outcomes achieved by the best of the MATs why should protecting the education opportunities for children in their area be seen as a negative behaviour? As that is what I read in your use of 'pragmatic' and 'digging heels in' to describe the two different LA approaches you describe.

JWIM Wed 23-Mar-16 12:34:37

And, even though my children will have completed their compulsory education, what does 'an interesting few years' do for the education opportunities for children born today, pre-school age, at primary, middle and secondary stages? Do they deserve this?

Samcro Wed 23-Mar-16 12:35:01

Peregrina so true

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 12:41:50

As that is what I read in your use of 'pragmatic' and 'digging heels in' to describe the two different LA approaches you describe.

I think the Government would see them as digging their heels in (not me).

By "pragmatic" I mean councils that don't necessarily like academisation either but who can't resist it as they have councils of the same political colour as the Government. So, they are making the best of it - hand-holding their schools through the academisation process and maintaining close relationships with them. For example, by maintaining LA reps on all of their converter academy trust boards, re-absorbing failing sponsored academies into local partnerships, and by putting a commissioning model in place in the form of a social enterprise so that academies can still buy "council" services.

These innovative councils are cleverly "playing along" with government policy but also doing things their own way to derive maximum benefit for local schools.

ElementaryMyDear Wed 23-Mar-16 13:04:20

We will also expect every academy to put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback.

The question is whether this will in any way be enforceable in a useful way. Realistically, is there anything to stop the academy trusts continuing to appoint their mates? And you can bet they won't appoint parents who are in any way likely to rock the boat, no matter how useful their skills are.

JWIM Wed 23-Mar-16 13:13:51

I can see how you might reach the conclusion that the LAs you cite are being pragmatic as they are of the same political hue as the Government. My LA, that has put a head above the parapet' to call on the Government for evidence to support compulsory academy change, is a shire county and has been staunchly Conservative for as long as anyone can remember and little likelihood that that will change in the near or distant future.

I would rather a proven successful delivery of education services for the benefit of children by an experienced LA than an 'innovative' council playing along with a system for which the published data shows poorer outcomes.

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 13:17:39

is there anything to stop the academy trusts continuing to appoint their mates? And you can bet they won't appoint parents who are in any way likely to rock the boat, no matter how useful their skills are

The job of academy trusts is to run a successful school in line with the school's published vision and values. Anyone who the trust appoints as a governor should have the same objective. It's important that a strong team is in place, just as it is in any successful organisation. Provided I have trust in the Trust to run the school (which of course is the most important question) then I don't see why I shouldn't have trust in their ability to appoint governors who will help them do that.

Voting is for political appointments where candidates stand on a manifesto, not for skills based appointments needed to fill a specific gap in a team.

planetarium Wed 23-Mar-16 13:34:03

JWIM I predict that head-above-parapet Conservative LAs like yours, who are doing a good job of running schools anyway, will be gradually wooed with stories of successful transitions in LAs like Richmond and Kingston. Eventually a tipping point will be reached where there are enough "successful" academies for the Gvt to put together a backdated evidence portfolio, and that will be used to force the hand of less willing participants.

But let's see. Maybe enough LAs will resist for the Gvt to be voted out before they can see the change through.

DramaQueenofHighCs Wed 23-Mar-16 13:53:01

I don't usually listen in on people's phone conversations, but right now I'm sitting in a cafe listening to a man on his phone discussing the education white paper! He doesn't seem to think that the new curriculum and forcing academies is a good idea either! He seems to think that even the most able kids will be disadvantaged by all the stress and pressure and think Academies will not solve the problem with disparity in school standards, but he could see it happening.
Plus it seems he's someone who trains teachers!! (It's a really interesting one sided conversation! I shouldn't be listening but.....lol)

DramaQueenofHighCs Wed 23-Mar-16 13:54:39

(Let's just hope the man isn't reading this thread or I've outed myself BIG TIME as a nosey mare! grin )

derxa Wed 23-Mar-16 13:59:15

Thanks Mner

Valentine2 Wed 23-Mar-16 14:16:00

So far, none of the shadow cabinet have given a time frame for raising this in the parliamentary debates. I understand that the issues they are currently discussing are of enormous importance too but the academisation issue is something that has shocked even the staunchest of Tories that I know.

mercifulTehlu Wed 23-Mar-16 14:54:01

<marking place> I'm still a bit freaked out to have been quoted in the Guardian blush. Still, at least I stand wholeheartedly by what they quoted!

nlondondad Wed 23-Mar-16 15:14:00

I have come across an interesting blog posting by Warwick Mansell. Its quite long and detailed, basically about the argument about which comes first, results (or" what works") and structures. With it are two short comments by Janet Downs, which I think deserve a wider audience, so in an edited form, here they are:-

"Academisation as promoted by the DfE was supposed to bring ‘freedom’. But for individual schools in multi-academy trusts it is doing the opposite. The heads in these academies are actually demoted to deputies and the governing body becomes an advisory rather than a decision-making body. MAT head office decides resource allocation even the nature of those resources. ...some MATs impose a uniform curriculum – no freedom there for schools in these MATs.

Far from extending ‘choice’ as the Government maintains, a fully academized system could result in less. What difference, for example, is there in Harris or ARK academies? What choice is there in Pimlico where three of the four primaries are run by Lord Nash’s Future Academies which all follow the UK Core Knowledge Curriculum?

Already some MATs are charitable arms of for-profit education providers eg The Learning Schools Trust (Kunskapsskolan), The Collaborative Academies Trust (EdisonLearning) and GEMS Learning Trust (GEMS Education Solutions). When such organisations become involved in education, it isn’t altruism, but investment. Wey Education admitted as such in its preliminary announcement for the year ending 31 December 2012. Its approved academy sponsor, Zail Enterprises Limited (now Wey Consultancy Limited), would be the ‘the operator of record of any Academies which come under management’. Wey said this ‘specialist vehicle’ would help Wey in its ambitions to establish ‘a business capable of making a return to shareholders.’
Parents might not be too happy if those running their schools are motivated by making a return to shareholders."

cprtrust.org.uk/cprt-blog/we-need-to-talk-about-structures/

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