What do you think about Primary schools becoming academies?(18 Posts)
My dc's school is considering this at the moment.
What would you say are the pros and cons?
My main issues with them are that they are outside LA control - so the school manages all of its budget, can set staff pay, terms&conditions etc. There have been a number of cases locally to me where schools that have done this have ended up with massive deficits and had to be bailed out - there's a lot wrong with LAs but they do provide a useful system of checks and balances. Pros - most LAs hold back 10% of a school's budget - by becoming an academy the school keeps that 10% so has more money to spend on pupils etc (in theory).
Academies don't need to accept Statemented children, which I see as very divisive.
Thanks Hassled, some really useful infor there
Why do you think so jemimapotts?
I've just moved my son from a school that will be becoming an academy. It was pretty dreadful, the teachers seemed to be either stuck in a time warp or to have no clue about how to talk to/relate to small children. However, I think my problems are less to do with it being an accademy and more to do with the school and its staff being a poor fit for my ds who needed something a bit more engaging and imaginative than what this school was offering. They were VERY results driven, and very keen to get pupils onto the SEN register.
We are the opposite and very happy with the school as it is, seems to be good for both my dc's.
I hope your son is enjoying his new school
At the moment schools have a selection criteria managed by the LEA. This prioritises looked after children, those with special needs, siblings and local children.Academies can opt out of this and will be able to establish their own critera, creaming off the children they accept.
Ah I see, so could have a very negative effect on inclusion.
Yes and there could be lots more sink schools where the 'less able' go. It could be disastrous!
Academies can not opt out of SN kids etc. They still have to accept statemented kids.
It really depends on your LEA whether or not opting out of their control is a good thing.
The LEAs have had all their budget stripped by this govt and are providing almost nothing to primary schools at the moment.
I hope we do become an academy. Our LEA is dreadful.
As a parent you won't be aware at all of what is really happening and whether or not opting out is a good thing. The governors will know a lot more - so ask them.....
Indigo - See para 5 of the IPSEA response. Unless this was subsequently tweaked - can you link to something?
Hassled - See here for the correct position. The provisions here are similar to those for LA controlled schools. The Academy can object to being named in a statement but the LA decides and, once the LA has decided, the Academy has to accept. The Academy can appeal to the Secretary of State but, even if he upholds the Academy's position, the parents can appeal to SENDIST, who have the final say. So Academies cannot opt out of SN children.
The IPSEA submission seems to be largely based on a case involving an SEN child where the academy behaved very poorly and attempted to ignore a decision by SENDIST aided by some poor decision making by the then Secretary of State. Unfortunately there are many similar examples where LA-controlled schools have behaved equally poorly.
I am not saying there aren't any concerns regarding SEN children and academies. But academies cannot simply refuse to take SEN children.
As a GB we considered becoming an Academy, as Chair I sent everything that I could find about Academies to all governors prior to the meeting. In many ways we are very lucky our LA devolved just over 95% of our funding back to us in the 1990s so we have been choosing our SLAs and who we bought them from since then.
We decided that one of the reasons we are an outstanding primary school is because of the support we get from the LA and their advisers. We will revisit this decision annually but can currently only see us changing our minds if the curriculum becomes ridiculously proscriptive... which to be honest with Gove about may well happen.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
My DC's old primary was an academy. I (as a parent) didn't notice any differences on a day to day basis from when it was LEA controlled. It was part of a local MAT that included the local secondary and I did notice benefits in terms of close relationships with the secondary; many joint events and activities; things that happened due to economy of scale etc.
I suspect that like "private schools" there is no way to generalize about academies.
It depends entirely on the circumstances.
Some areas (e.g. Bristol) have an appalling LEA that's suffered from years of local politics, crap staff and classic civil servant sloppiness. Most primary schools are now academies and for good reason - increased budgets, increased accountability and its gone on to be shown in better academic standards. It's enabled schools to operate independently like businesses and bring genuine change quickly. They've also been able to flush out more of the bad staff.
Want a good example? In one school I worked in around 2005, we paid £850+VAT for an outside tap that should have been a £150 job because we had to use a particular supplier. That doesn't happen anymore, the academies shop around.
That said, allowing a bad pilot to captain an a large budget can lead to an academy going very wrong. Plenty of schools haven't planned well and ended up essentially going bust when the writing was on the wall for a long time. Others have become strange religious pressure pots that breed unhappy children or simply extremism.
There are some bad stories but plenty of genuinely amazing ones, especially with some of the 'free' schools that have been created since 2010.
There's no 'right' or 'wrong' answer to 'academisation' in general, it all depends on the school and the LEA. My feelings from my experience though is it's superb for bringing genuine change. It's all down to leadership.
ZOMBIE THREAD - however, I'll bite. Some facts about academies:
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