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Acadamy school status : For or against?

(62 Posts)
DrNortherner Tue 21-Jun-11 14:15:28

I am totally against. I think they will do nothing to close the gap between good schools and bad schools and the community as a whole will lose out.

This could totally have a negative impact on teachers, parents (as Acadamey schools acn set their own term times etc) and kids alike. I have my doubts that teh SEN intake will dwindle too putting extra pressure on the state non academy schools in the area.

2 State school in my town are seeking Academy status and it is making my blood boil.

Thoughts?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-Jun-11 14:38:02

As my DS is about to attend one, I'm 'for'. The school in question was a failing school several years ago, has been transformed in terms of discipline and results. The headteacher who engineered this turnaround is now actively helping other schools in the area achieve the same high standards. Converted to academy status earlier this year. Their inclusion policy is excellent.

I think you should wait and see what happens before judging based on prejudice rather than evidence....

DrNortherner Tue 21-Jun-11 14:46:35

Well I was looking for an enlightened biscussion but in one post I have been called prejudiced. Nice.

OK Cogito can you answer me this:
What will happen to non academy schools in all the academy schools in teh area turn down the most difficult/challenging pupils?

Schools seeking Academy status are being asked not to recgnise teaching unions. Who wil protect the teachers when it comes to working conditions and pay?

Also, once becoming an Academy school, they can never go back. Why is this?

DrNortherner Tue 21-Jun-11 14:47:32

biscussion = discussion ovbiously! Should preview......

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-Jun-11 14:56:56

I described you as prejudiced because you're not basing your 'boiling blood' reaction on evidence, simply fear and supposition. A lot of people are not in unions and yet are well protected by employment law. And presumably, like anyone else, if teachers employed by academies are not happy with the t's and c's they will simply leave and move somewhere that offers a better deal. No idea why they can't go back under LEA control after making the move but that doesn't seem to be stopping the applications.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-Jun-11 15:04:32

And the point about challenging pupils. As far as I know, the selection criteria has to stay the same as before i.e. anyone within the catchment area qualifies. If a child turns up that has behavioural problems, they'll have to deal with it same as any other school would. According to the headteacher at my DS's new school, exclusion is seen as a last resort - and I've no reason to disbelieve him. Do you have any evidence that academies dump difficult kids on other schools?

interregnum Tue 21-Jun-11 15:13:14

You can't really start a thread by stating you are totally against something
and then claim you want an 'enlightened discussion', What you really want
is an argument is it not?

DrNortherner Tue 21-Jun-11 16:08:28

I can state my POV and ask for a discussion, and that's what I did. It does't have to be an arguement does it?

RE admissions, I think as they are not LEA controlled they get to set their own admission criteria, but need to check that.

Isitreally Tue 21-Jun-11 17:03:35

Yes they can set their own admission criteria but not in the way you seem to think. They still have to comply with the policies about fair admissions to that school. So they might decide to give priority on distance rather than siblings for example (or vice versa) but they can't specify no SEN children or discriminate against anyone who is statemented, has English as an additional language or any of the other things you seem worried about.

They can't set up selection by the back door and turn away "difficult" students.

Macaroona Tue 21-Jun-11 17:06:02

DrNorthener I've not heard anything about academies being asked not to recognise teaching unions, do you have a link or anything?

Fwiw I think they are divisive and cynical, and will result in the collapse of educational standards in the UK.

Chaotica Tue 21-Jun-11 17:10:29

There have been reported cases in some academies (one in Doncaster springs to mind) where pupils were excluded more frequently and with fewer checks. The reason this case made the national press was that parents were claiming the students were excluded for very petty (and unsubstantiated) issues and that this was backdoor (after the fact) selection.

Personally, I do not like the idea the running of schools being partially handed over to businesses and religious groups etc Schools should be state run, IMHO.

meditrina Tue 21-Jun-11 17:14:31

They will be State run - but perhaps not in the way you mean. In being freed from LEA control, they are instead coming directly under the SoS for Education. This is a huge increase in potential Whitehall control. this Govt doesn't intend to control in such a way - but who can say what view future administrations might take?

DrNortherner Tue 21-Jun-11 17:17:39

Hmmm. I also don't like the idea that Governers/schools can apply for Academy status without consultation with parents. And I believe that Governers of an Academy school are appointed, not elected....

Will try to find link about unions.

longfingernails Tue 21-Jun-11 17:48:31

For.

RockinSockBunnies Tue 21-Jun-11 17:57:11

I'm for them - wish I could get a big enough group of people together to set one up myself. I love the fact that the schools can avoid having to follow the national curriculum.

I suppose I'm biased in that I went to an independant school and relished the academic opportunities it provided. So, for me, a school that can teach Latin, Greek, sciences etc, without being hampered by the National Curriculum is a good thing.

I'm also keen on the influence of those groups setting up the schools, who don't have an intrinsic, left-wing, socialist bias that many state schools seem to have. I want people from different backgrounds teaching and running the school - be they ex-forces, ex-business people etc.

I think free schools are a great opportunity to undo the damage that has wreaked havoc in the educational system in this country.

Isitreally Tue 21-Jun-11 18:51:20

Free schools are different to Academies.
Academies are state schools opting out of LEA control.

Mellowfruitfulness Tue 21-Jun-11 19:02:12

Agree with you, Dr Northerner. I haven't heard anything about academies that has ever made me think, 'Oh, what a good idea!'

longfingernails Tue 21-Jun-11 19:57:02

Mellowfruitfulness Here are some advantages:

- Putting aspiration for children above the insouciant protection of mediocre teachers
- Rewarding teachers on merit instead of seniority
- Destroying teaching unions
- Destroying local education authorities
- Raising standards through the miracle of competition
- Putting choice in parents' hands
- Lower administrative costs
- Generally eradicating one of the institutional bastions of left-wingery in society
- Locking in a new generation of anti-Labour voters, who know that a Labour government will do everything in their power to emasculate the academies and free schools they have chosen to send their children to (if not closing them down altogether) - thereby helping ensure that Labour stays out of power.

Mellowfruitfulness Tue 21-Jun-11 20:47:01

If you wanted to give every child the same opportunities from their schooling, would you start by creating academies?

Wouldn't you have small, local schools with small classes run by a dedicated team of well-educated and trained teachers and dynamic, imaginative heads? All these schools would receive exactly the same amount of money per child; they would all have the same social mix, the same proportion of special needs children who would all be catered for in the best possible way by qualified, committed staff.

Would you then decide that one particular school should receive more money, more facilities, have a higher proportion of middle class parents and highly motivated children? There wouldn't be any point, would there, as every school would be excellent!

As CES says, we really should try not to judge on prejudice - but how else do you choose not to send your child to one school and to send him/her to another, if you've never had any contact with either?

longfingernails Tue 21-Jun-11 21:28:24

One size fits all has been tried, and it has failed, dismally.

Competition improves quality. Not everyone is equal, not every child wants to have the same subject mix or focus, not every school should have the same ethos. Trying to impose equality is futile.

Give parents choice. It is pretty obvious which schools are decent and which are crap - even without the wealth of data which now exists.

The Gove reforms will do more to tackle inter-generational poverty than the billions wasted in out-of-work benefits could ever do, by putting aspiration at the heart of education. If they truly cared about the poor, Labour would be supporting these reforms - and indeed, the smarter elements in Labour such as Tony Blair and Lord Adonis recognise that. However, it is in the Labour party's electoral interest to keep the poor hooked on welfare dependency, so it is no surprise that they are opposing these marvellous changes.

Of course, the systematic evisceration of the teaching unions is just icing on the cake grin

Mellowfruitfulness Tue 21-Jun-11 21:36:01

'One size fits all has been tried, and it has failed, dismally'. When was that, LFN?
'Competition improves quality' - evidence?
'Not everyone is equal' - what do you mean?
'not every child wants to have the same subject mix or focus' - no, did anyone say they did?
'not every school should have the same ethos' - agreed.
'Trying to impose equality is futile' - what does this mean?
etc.

I'm just nit-picking. I know what you mean, but your thinking is so muddled imo. No-one said everyone was the same or had the same needs or interests. Just that everyone deserves the same opportunities.

longfingernails Tue 21-Jun-11 21:43:26

The comprehensive system has failed. Competition self-evidently improves quality - see the world around you for the miracle of capitalism. As for not everyone being equal, surely that is obvious. Some children are extremely academic, some are sporty, some are musical, some are technical, etc.

Having the same opportunities as everyone else isn't much use if that opportunity is crap (as in the Labour vision of education, full of bolshy mediocre teachers wielding PCGEs as evidence of their "ability", with exams dumbed down so everyone gets an A*, and teachers telling kids who don't know any better than idiotic subjects like ICT have the same value as Further Maths). Get schools to compete vigorously with each other, and you get genuine opportunity, innovation and aspiration.

Mellowfruitfulness Tue 21-Jun-11 21:58:54

OK, so which country is this? Which world? Don't recognise it at all. hmm

The comprehensive system has produced the vast majority of people under the age of 50 in this country. In what way has it failed?

I have tried to see things as you do, LFN, but come up against huge difficulties, such as the evidence of my eyes, my life and everyone around me.

So I think we'll just have to agree to differ. I shall toddle off with my view of the world intact and you can carry on as you were.

jackstarb Tue 21-Jun-11 22:19:38

"Wouldn't you have small, local schools with small classes run by a dedicated team of well-educated and trained teachers and dynamic, imaginative heads? All these schools would receive exactly the same amount of money per child; they would all have the same social mix, the same proportion of special needs children who would all be catered for in the best possible way by qualified, committed staff. "

Mellow - That sounds like Finland (apart from the sharing out of special needs children bit).

Academies aren't a new education system. They are a significant tweak to the education system which has developed here over 100's of years. Unless you've got a time machine handy, we have to work with the schools we've got (and for that matter the society). And we are very different from Finland - which is less racially and social diverse, has a much smaller population, has highly qualified and trained teachers, starts formal education at 7......

Plus most UK 'comprehensive school supporters' claim you need very large schools (to provide adequate peers and resources for each ability level).

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 22-Jun-11 06:34:18

I can only speak from my recent experience with an Academy-status school. It is a large (8 form intake) co-ed, comprehensive style school taking children from our local catchment area of which my DS's junior school is one feeder. Of the 90-ish children in his Year almost all are going on to the Academy - the exceptions being those going to a local single-sex school or various religious schools. Can say with certainty, therefore, that there has been no selection on the basis of behaviour, educational standard or special needs. The Academy has an excellent reputation for discipline and results and has specialist status in certain subjects. It is oversubscribed but there are at least three other large, successful schools nearby... also very popular... so accusations of dumping children on other schools and consigning them to a second-rate education does not apply.

The staff that I have met appear young-ish (younger than the ones I had at my old grammar, at least) motivated and very focused. The headteacher, as I said before, has an extremely good track-record, is active in raising standards in other schools, and I can only conclude that, if he thinks it was a good idea to apply for Academy status and be in charge of his own budget etc., then there must be very real advantages.

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