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Acadamies - what went wrong?

(122 Posts)
Mechanoid Fri 18-Jul-14 18:07:29

After sending my last child off to school and her getting settled and doing really well, I decided to get back into the world of work and considered being a TA. I volunteered at my daughter's school and found that I loved it. After a while, I signed up with an agency and have been in paid work ever since. I love it.

I'm a graduate and had considered Teaching initially, but I actually prefer being a TA - I'm very good at it and love what I do. So imagine my disappointment then, when I started applying for jobs as a TA and being told (always by academies!) that "TA's are Teachers these days!".

Interestingly, they seem happy with unqualified people Teaching, but not with paying qualified odd!

In a state school, TA are just that: TA's! But academies aren't schools and I would NEVER send my child to one. Any views?

CharlesRyder Fri 18-Jul-14 18:11:44

I am confused. You mean they only employ ex teachers as TAs or that TAs are expected to teach classes?

Mechanoid Fri 18-Jul-14 18:25:19

They expect TA's to Teach whole classes. I am not joking.

TeenAndTween Fri 18-Jul-14 18:30:40

Not at my DD1's school (convertor academy).

itiswhatitiswhatitis Fri 18-Jul-14 18:34:51

TA's don't teach whole classes in dc's academy

CharlesRyder Fri 18-Jul-14 18:38:23

I think some brief periods of whole class cover is expected of many TAs. They shouldn't have their own planning responsibilities though- that's HLTA territory.

There's all sorts going on out there!!

Mechanoid Fri 18-Jul-14 18:38:57

Not yet, perhaps...I have a Teacher friend who has just quit because of it.

Mechanoid Fri 18-Jul-14 18:41:59

I regularly cover 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there - that is not teaching, that is just covering for Teacher here, I mean Teaching.

BackforGood Fri 18-Jul-14 18:43:48

Many schools that aren't academies regularly use TAs to cover.
Think it's totally wrong myself, but it's not confined to academies.

Mechanoid Fri 18-Jul-14 18:49:28

Sometimes schools have no choice, I've taught a Class (in conjunction with another TA) and that happened once due to sudden illness, it went fine and was mainly just using computers.

At two different academies, I was actually told at the interview that TAs are required to Teach theses days.

I'm reasonably bright - I'm a graduate - and may well choose to Teach in future, but I'd want some good training and a plenty of money and also not to put children's education at risk while I fumble around trying to get it right at first.

shelsco Fri 18-Jul-14 19:53:14

Mm, worrying. All the secondaries around herewith era have become or will become academies. the last one gain academy status in September. I did ask some questions but staff didn't really know the answers and tbh I wasn't really sure what questions to ask. Think the worry of academies is that they are an unknown quantity and we will only find out the problems when it is too late.

noblegiraffe Fri 18-Jul-14 19:56:37

Academies can hire unqualified teachers. Gove tried to make out this would mean hiring the great scientist with excellent communication skills who didn't need teacher training.

In reality it means they'll hire whoever will do it cheapest.

OneDreamOnly Fri 18-Jul-14 20:08:59

The reality is that Academies do not have to employ trained teachers, just the people they think are suitable for the job (ie the idea is that sometimes you are better with someone with experience of the job rather than a teacher with no practical experience of the subject.)
Then they are bound by budget and I know of a few academies who are already struggling and are making people redundant. They start by making the teachers who are the most expensive redundant, ie the ones with the most experience, regardless of the consequence to the teaching levels. It's very short sighted as clearly it will have an impact on how well the school is doing re SATs, GCSE etc... But then they don't have to publish their results and already some are refusing to do so.

So what we are likely to see is a whole lot of schools where we have no idea how good or bad they are doing, employing whoever they want, but not always teachers to teach. And we'll have no other choice to use them because we will have 90% of them as academy (either by choice or forced). Eg in my area 75% of secondary schools are academies and already 3 of them do not publish their results for GCSE etc.

But tbh it was clear from the beginning that this is how it would be!

OneDreamOnly Fri 18-Jul-14 20:11:32

Then you have the issue of the school putting their priority at the wrong place. So the school is spending money on a climbing wall, a rope course and whatever which looks good in the eyes of parents. And restrict the budget on paying teachers.

But as parents, we have no access to that sort of information so can not make an informed choice as to which will be the best managed school.

In the end we will have to rely on word of mouth to choose schools.

LuluJakey1 Fri 18-Jul-14 20:11:37

Yes, you are right. In Academies, they can hire unqualified teachers to teach full-time- to plan lessons and deliver them. They can be given sole responsibility for classes, including at GCSE and A level.
My cousin has just left her job as a Head of English in an Academy because two of her experienced teachers left last summer and were replaced with TAs by the Academy managers- who also are not teachers.
It has been a nightmare year, trying to train them to teach GCSE English and GCSE English Literature. Their groups have performed badly all the way through the year in exams and they struggle to manage behaviour.
My cousin says they are very nice and work hard but they have no training- they are not even HLTAs. They have no degrees in English. One was an admin assistant in a primary school last year. However, they are paid thousands less than a teacher.
The management expect teachers to give them their lesson plans - with no understanding that you plan for a particular class, not any class and that if you do not understand the subject or how children learn, you just can't do it and get good results.
She has left as Head of Department without applying for other jobs- is just very stressed as she is getting it in the neck from management because the results of these staff look like they are going to be very poor.
However, the Academy has saved money which is the most important thing to the 'sponsor'.

straggle Sat 19-Jul-14 10:08:20

There are too many bad academy chains which were encouraged to expand without any checks on quality. They've paid their directors well but not invested in experienced teachers.

The Kemnal Academy Trust
Prospects Academies Trust


AuntieStella Sat 19-Jul-14 10:13:52

Academies are allowed to have non-QTS teachers.

But was that something brought in by Balls (ie academies have had all along) or was it new in the Academies Act 2010?

Icimoi Sat 19-Jul-14 10:43:12

I agree that I would be very wary of sending children to an Academy, for a number of reasons.

It is noticeable that conversion to academy status has resulted in a fall in grades in academic subjects in far too many cases. And in academies where results have ostensibly improved, it is often because they have manipulated admissions and have been fairly ruthless in shunting out those children who are unlikely to get good results.

TalkinPeace Sat 19-Jul-14 16:09:39

I would be very wary of sending children to an Academy
2/3 of secondary schools are now academies : most of the country has little choice BUT to use Academies.

Why academies will fail :
(a) Admin staff who were hired on the basis of always having the LEA on the end of the phone several times a day are now being expected to be "Bursars" with no extra training or pay and less resources.
(b) Heads have become emperors - accountable to nobody and with a vested interest in getting compliant governing bodies
(c) Governing bodies are accountable to nobody so can go off the rails without oversight
(d) Academy schools choose their own auditors so financial problems can be more easily swept under the carpet I predict many, many, many criminal cases within the next 5 years
(e) Sponsor Chains were judged on criteria that were political rather than educational

The solution?
Convert ALL state funded schools back into LEA schools
Merge the LEAs until each has around 600 schools to stop waste in management salaries and ENFORCE transparency on schools and LEAS to share good practice.

The good LEAS were great. The bad ones shocking.
It can be sorted, but there needs to be will.

BackforGood Sat 19-Jul-14 18:05:41

Trouble is Icimoi - the vast majority of us have no choice.
If I had an option, I wouldn't, but all the schools OFSTED claimed weren't good enough had to convert, then there was an attractive financial bribe to persuade all the 'Outstanding' schools to convert. By then Local Authorities were being decimated anyway, so all the support and advantage of remaining a non-academy was lost.

Talkin - I'm not convinced about having LAs with 600 schools is the answer - that is far bigger than our biggest LA, and I'm not sure that's an example we want to be taking the lead. Being a really big authority brings it's own challenges.
Other than that, I'd agree, schools are MUCH better under LA control. The other area that LAs have always picked up that individual academies won't be able to - is suddenly rehousing a whole school within a few days after a fire /flood / other disaster. Before people shout out 'that's not likely to happen' - it does. School fires are not that irregular, and I taught in a school once that was completely submerged (to about 3 or 4') in (shall we say...erm... not clean) water after some flash flooding disrupted the whole of the local sewer system. Within a week, we were rehoused, and the dc back at school in another building for a few months while it was all sorted.

Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 18:14:54

I think that in a year or two, I will have enough experience and perhaps want to try teaching, but I am not ready yet and no mainstream school or academy would be doing the right thing for the children by hiring me.

Another thing that puzzles me is that grades have been rising in recent years - I would suggest as a result of putting INCLUSION (every Child Matters) at the heart of school life and then hiring good, well-qualified TAs to help those who are a little behind and help to manage behaviour so that everyone else benefits in class as well. A good TA can help an over-worked Teacher transform a rowdy class into a calm, serene learning environment where everyone gets a chance. That's certainly what I aim to try and do!

Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 18:17:36

Anyone noticed how poor my online spelling is? Acadamies! Theses! Wow, I would be a terrible Teacher!

TalkinPeace Sat 19-Jul-14 18:24:54

that is far bigger than our biggest LA
Hampshire had 680 schools under its control before Academies started.
Kent had similar.

BackforGood Sat 19-Jul-14 20:28:02

I've checked my figures - 437 is "only" what's left after the Academies have been taken off the list - I think I was in 'end of term nodding off mode' when I heard the number, and didn't start to think how all the dc could fit into so few schools grin


TalkinPeace Sun 20-Jul-14 13:55:01

And the reason I comment on LEA size is that most policy makers live and work in London
which has a whole series of dysfunctional teeny LEAs where a bigger share of the budget goes on management salaries and the 'cross border traffic' is so big that strategic planning is impossible.

The big County LEAs show that looking at an area holistically - from Nursery to 6th Form makes the system work better.

If the LEA covers rich and poor areas and a mixture of housing densities it can be more flexible.
The teeny LEAs on Merseyside are crying out to be merged for example.
As are most of the London ones - a single application system for the whole of London would save thousands of tonnes of CO2 from the application process alone!

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