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Academy Schools

(26 Posts)
Rochelle67 Wed 01-Jul-15 13:01:31

I would be interested to know what the feelings of other parents are about Academy education.

AuntieStella Wed 01-Jul-15 13:04:12

Why do you ask?

Do you have DC in one, allocated one, or in a school that is about to convert?

GnomeDePlume Wed 01-Jul-15 13:27:57

DCs' secondary school was academied after facing the risk of going back into special measures yet again.

I have to say that the school has improved. Not a speedy improvement as there were a number of major problems:

- incompetent Head
- poor departmental management
- poor performing school unable to attract or retain good staff

But there are improvements.

The school is still rated as Requiring Improvement but is better than it was. Now that is damning with faint praise!

whojamaflip Wed 01-Jul-15 13:35:34

Ds1 is at an Academy School which was one of the first to choose to convert - just been rated outstanding by OFSTED and is ranked 17th in the Times Educational Lists.

He's perfectly happy and thriving - couldn't imagine him anywhere else tbh.

May be a slightly different scenario as they weren't "forced" to convert though.

TalkinPeace Wed 01-Jul-15 13:35:41

Its just like normal education but with absolutely no accountability or oversight.

Am very glad my kids will be out of it before the shit hits the fan.

Icimoi Wed 01-Jul-15 20:06:54

No accountability, no requirement for qualified staff, pretty horrendous failure rate. Couple that with some pretty dodgy admissions and exclusions practice to try to keep the results good, plus over-reliance on excessive discipline and petty uniform rules. Not for me.

OddBoots Wed 01-Jul-15 20:09:01

All other things being equal I would avoid them for my children but it's often more complicated than that.

TalkinPeace Wed 01-Jul-15 20:41:04

more than 2/3 of state secondaries are now academies

many of those academies are coasting and starting to fail
but Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan have no plan b

GnomeDePlume Wed 01-Jul-15 22:25:58

Its just like normal education but with absolutely no accountability or oversight.

The so called oversight and accountability achieved absolutely nothing for my DCs' school. At its worst it managed to plummet from low/mid table to be the second worst school in England.

There were so many failings. Anywhere else the school would have been shutdown but as it was the only school in town it had to be kept open rather than being bulldozed (my preferred option).

If that is what supervision brings then I would rather have cackadamisation.

TeenAndTween Thu 02-Jul-15 12:00:55

DD's school chose to convert, and I have seen no difference.

Rochelle67 Thu 02-Jul-15 12:24:34

Thank you all for your feedback. I was asking because my daughter's primary school was forced to convert to a Harris a couple of years ago. Our experience is a mixed bag really. Teaching has been good and behaviour and maths results have improved but all creative and artistic activities have been sort of shelved for now and our daughter hasn't enjoyed any PE lessons (she enjoys all sort of sports out of school). Through lack of choice locally, in September, she will be going to another Harris. Has anyone got feedback on Harris Bromley?

notinminutenow Wed 08-Jul-15 10:45:13

We've found that in basic terms there is no real accountability, parents are very much kept at arms length and changes to procedure and protocol happen without consultation. We are informed of changes after the fact.

We are in a part of London where all schools, bar one, within a 5 mile radius, are academies - a lot of them Harris. We were not impressed with the rigid corporate feel of Harris - it wasn't for us - but there is no denying that many parents here like them and results are average or better.

DS all-through 4-18 school converted to Academy status through choice. Not part of a chain. I do think there is a difference between single academy schools and academy chains like Harris. DS school was previously ofsted 'good' and last year achieved 'outstanding'. Is it outstanding? In some areas, yes. In others definitely not. What it has is an excellent Principal who has a clear vision for the school. Academy status gives him freedom to act. However, in a school with a poor Head, the lack of external oversight could be disastrous.

Our DS is making good progress so I guess that is what is important ultimately.

Rochelle67 Wed 08-Jul-15 12:29:27

Thank you for the latest message. I guess kids progress and happiness are the most important elements ...

TalkinPeace Wed 08-Jul-15 12:35:37

Another gimmick Academy school is closing at the end of the term, after the number of pupils in Year 11 fell to 12 .... and this in a city with NO normal Secondary school within 2 miles

Rochelle67 Wed 08-Jul-15 13:16:09

Yes. There are some scary stories circulating about some academies. It is important for parents to keep a close eye on their kids school and keep asking questions. After all, they don't have to follow the curriculum and they don't have to recruit qualified teachers. Most schools around us are academies and we didn't want to put our child through a lot of commuting so we didn't really have a choice.

OddBoots Wed 08-Jul-15 13:57:45

It doesn't help that conversion is being used as a threat to schools when they don't do what the government think thy ought. The name academy is becoming a euphemism for 'punished for failing' and that isn't exactly appealing to parents. The whole idea, which may have been a good one has been devalued.

Interestingly many non-academy schools are getting together with groups like Pixl to get the benefits of collaboration without all the drawbacks of a chain.

rabbitstew Wed 08-Jul-15 14:23:22

It seems to me that Academy schools are just a massive experiment by the government to see if they can polarise schools even more. If academy schools actually resulted in attracting more outstanding teachers and headteachers to the profession, developing them and then retaining them, then maybe they would be a good thing, but it doesn't seem to be working that way so far and they've had quite a bit of time, now, to do that.

Moving a school away from LA oversight is not going to make it automatically better, as LAs aren't the cause of bad schools, it's inadequate headteachers and staff who make schools bad. LAs can only have general oversight to limit the damage and bring things to peoples' attention before it's far too late; the day-to-day running is not in a LA's hands. Academy chains are hugely less accountable than LAs (the government wants to be able to inflict them on local people against their will, they can't be elected in...), and don't make things more free for the inspirational headteachers the government claims it wants to attract - they are often far more prescriptive than any LA would ever have been. Why would an outstanding headteacher want to do what they were told by an academy chain any more than they would want to be told what to do by a LA? As for academy schools that aren't part of a chain - they are more free to mess up big time, largely because they have less oversight, as no school is actually that free, as well as technically more free to improve.

In reality, in my view, academy schools don't have many more genuine freedoms than any other type of school providing state education - the government decides what targets they must meet and what hoops they must jump through (British Values, GCSEs, A-levels, etc), and most parents' desires for their children's education are pretty mainstream, anyway, so they won't want to have a radical experiment of a school inflicted on them when they don't get any of their actual school choices. Basically, the government gives pretend freedoms to schools with one hand and takes them all away again with the other and its only apparent real interest is to find ways to cut funding to LAs. [cynical face]

rabbitstew Wed 08-Jul-15 14:57:47

In other words, however you analyse it, you can't but help come to the conclusion that academising schools is just a political decision inflicted on us by government regardless of local opposition, not an automatic improvement.

rabbitstew Wed 08-Jul-15 14:59:57

(Or it will be soon, now the government has clearly decided it wants all schools to become academies...).

TalkinPeace Wed 08-Jul-15 15:03:35

Whitehall wants all schools as academies as they are obsessed with centralised control - anything to take power away from the regions

the fact that Academy does not automatically equal good has utterly passed them by
because the DFE is stuffed full of bods on free secondment from companies who stand to make money from the change

same as DCLG is stuffed full of people on free secondment from House Builders

and the Treasury and HMRC are full of people from accountancy firm

its policy written by vested interests

rabbitstew Wed 08-Jul-15 15:20:09

Maybe the government wants to make it appear like more is being done when actually less is being done: if you neglect a school until Ofsted comes in and says it is so awful it has to be closed down, that is, apparently, a good thing. You can then reincarnate it multiple times, each time saying how wonderful you are for being decisive. That it makes for very insecure parents, children and teachers, a disrupted educational experience, lots of time consuming and expensive administrative and organisational changes that have nothing to do with the educational side of things but use up a lot of energy, and throws babies out with bathwater that might have been salvaged just by adding a bit more warm water (if only you'd paid attention and thus noticed in time) is absolutely fine - that's just collateral damage.

rabbitstew Wed 08-Jul-15 15:36:26

If LA schools that are deemed to be "coasting" can be forced to become academies, what can academies that are deemed to be "coasting" be forced to do? Is this the start of a jolly merry go round? We all know how brilliant government is at choosing private contractors to do work for it - not. And we all know how fantastic Ofsted is at contracting out its work, too - not. Still, at least we don't have to bother our pretty little heads about it - or, more accurately, at least the voter can't stick his irritating little oar in where the great and mighty have spoken. There is remarkably little democracy in this country - it interferes too much with strong government, which can only exist if the fact it only has minority support is conveniently ignored.

TalkinPeace Wed 08-Jul-15 16:03:39

Stand alone academies are forced to join chains
Chain schools are brushed under the carpet.

Its an open secret on this board which my local school is .... if they were NOT a sponsored academy with a groovy new building they would have been shut down long ago

TalkinPeace Thu 09-Jul-15 16:29:54

Ho hum tiddly pom

Icimoi Fri 10-Jul-15 22:05:42

I love that quote from Cameron about Perry Beeches (just judged inadequate) as a "real success story".

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