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Why would it be bad to become an Academy?

(24 Posts)
Ruprekt Thu 13-Mar-14 15:00:53

Primary

Deemed inadequate but not in Special Measures.

Spell it out for me in syllables of one. gringringrin

sparklyma Thu 13-Mar-14 20:27:04

Depends on what working conditions they set up for the teachers. If working conditions and pay end up being poor staff my leave in droves. Lots of turnover can be hard for kids. Academy conversions will usually not affect kids too much but can affect staff.

HedgeHogGroup Thu 13-Mar-14 20:40:45

Academy sets one school against another so while you 'may' get support from other schools in the chain they are unlikely to be local.
Also, if a school is failing how is handing it over to a company (who want to make ££ out of it) suddenly going to improve it?
'Failing' schools need support from local education professionals & ££ putting in to them to improve standards. Academy chains don't achieve this - they plunder the budget & schools do not thrive.

phlebasconsidered Thu 13-Mar-14 21:39:31

Not to mention the horrible atmosphere as the academy owners pressure staff that they don't like to leave. Staff that are too expensive ( ie: experienced) or over 35 years old. The constant box ticking exercises, the observations of lessons by men in suits whose only knowledge of education is that they now own it, and the terrible crushing of Governors, staff, rights, pension rights, TA's and support staff.

And all the while, they line their pockets.

I don't know of one Academy that doesn't have a posionous atmosphere.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Mar-14 22:54:13

Over half of all secondary schools are now academies. There are plenty that do not have a poisonous atmosphere. Contrary to the last two posts academies are run by charities and are not run for profit. There is evidence that the academy conversions under the last government have produced schools that are improving faster than other schools in the area. However, they were all failing schools at the time of conversion. It is less clear that academy conversion will deliver improvements to schools that are not failing.

simpson Thu 13-Mar-14 22:57:07

My DC primary school has converted to an academy and I haven't noticed a difference tbh.

Same HT, same staff etc.

It wasn't a failing school and is linked with 4 schools in the local area.

partystress Thu 13-Mar-14 23:24:37

www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/11/free-school-ies-breckland-suffolk-special-measures-ofsted

www.lutontoday.co.uk/news/politics/updated-damning-barnfield-report-published-1-5907324

Naive to think restrictions on profits will last for academy chains. And, as the Barnfield fiasco shows, there are more ways for individuals to make a lot of money than through profits or dividends.

The money behind many (not all) of the chains is chasing money, not educational benefit.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Mar-14 23:49:33

The governors of Breckland have chosen to outsource the running of the school to IES. They are however still accountable. The governors are not appointed by IES.

There have been irregularities at some academies. There have also been irregularities at community schools. Due to the opposition to academies irregularities at those schools get more attention in the press. I would like to see community schools subjected to similar levels of scrutiny.

It may be that we will ultimately get to a situation where academies can be run for profit but that is not the current situation. They have existed for 14 years so far without being allowed to make profits.

Gove has encouraged new convertors not to join the chains.

For what it is worth any company that intends to remain in business long term needs to provide a good service to its customers rather than make money at all costs. Not relevant to academies at the moment but if they ever are allowed to make a profit any sensible business will ensure that they continue to provide a good service to parents and children.

RiversideMum Fri 14-Mar-14 06:44:44

Most secondaries converted because there was lots of extra money on offer - let's call it a "carrot". Most primaries have been"forced" academies. If you are lucky there will be a local trust that the school will be taken into where at least there is a little accountability.

All the recent research shows that academies pay managers more, and teachers less than maintained schools. Make of that what you will!

pointythings Fri 14-Mar-14 08:34:25

DD2's primary converted voluntarily in 2010 - it was rated Good at the time. Not much has changed except that they have recruited a specialist PE teacher and a specialist maths teacher.

DD1's secondary converted last year, they jumped before they were pushed after Gove's grade boundary fiasco and went with a charity as an academy sponsor. What I've seen so far has been encouraging - they are now really pushing all pupils to their potential and not just focusing on the C/D divide, communication has improved out of all recognition, there is a lot more inter school sporting activity. It can be a good thing, though my gut feeling is that I have been lucky and that there are a lot of ways academy conversion can be abused. I'm very hmm of the likes of the Harris chain.

redskyatnight Fri 14-Mar-14 08:57:15

DC's junior school also voluntarily converted to an academy - again rated as "Good". As a parent I have noticed absolutely no difference in the day to day running at the school - obviously don't know how many changes there are to staff/governing board. The school marketed it as a good thing as the LEA was trying to impose changes on them that they felt would be detrimental to the school.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Mar-14 09:08:19

I'm very hmm of the likes of the Harris chain.

I'm more worried about some of the other chains. Lord Harris is a long term educational philanthropist who gives money to a number of state schools as well as setting up Harris Academies.

pointythings Fri 14-Mar-14 09:26:33

prh47bridge but isn't the Harris chain the one that says they will consult with parents and children on what the new uniform (as if they need one) will be and then push ahead with their own logo'd crap? Yes, I do have a bee in my bonnet about unnecessary uniform changes because they put parents to extra expense.

Though I suspect all these chains do this, so I'll extend my hmm to all non-charitable chains.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Mar-14 09:45:26

I've not come across that one with respect to Harris but I'm not saying it hasn't happened.

All the chains are charities so you aren't aiming your hmm at anyone! smile

CountessOfRule Fri 14-Mar-14 09:51:45

A friend of mine had twins in a school which changed to an a academy between R and Y1. She suddenly had to find over £100 each (everything had to be special, even trousers, socks, etc) for new uniforms including stiff blazers and cardigans which were falling apart by October half term.

Am I right in thinking that academies don't have to follow national guidelines for eg nutrition standards in lunches? That would concern me, particularly with the R-Y2 free lunches from September.

pointythings Fri 14-Mar-14 10:36:22

It's the same thing with Free Schools, Countess - the free school in the town next to mine has mandatory blazer which costs as much as the entire list of required items for my DD's secondary put together. And it can't be about quality - DD1's blazer still looks great after almost 2 years' hard wear.

And AFAIK it's true about nutritional guidelines.

SapphireMoon Fri 14-Mar-14 12:44:11

I wonder if others have noticed that academies often have fewer parent governors eg, maybe 2 instead of non academy 5ish.
This concerns me. What do others think?

redskyatnight Fri 14-Mar-14 14:18:47

SapphireMoon - DC's school has more parent governors since before it was an academy. That sounds like a school specific issue.

SapphireMoon Fri 14-Mar-14 14:35:38

That's good redsky.
Maybe it is the chains I have looked at rather than self converters that have fewer parent govs.
Noticed few totally new schools with fewer parent govs; hope minority?

partystress Fri 14-Mar-14 20:32:19

prh47 My understanding is that IES have had leadership control of Breckland since September 2012. Over 1.5 academic years. For all four Ofsted categories to be classified inadequate is not a great advert for the group. A local authority that failed to make some kind of positive impact in that time would be damned. Some of the comments about failures in leadership suggest the school is being led by people who have little understanding about the UK system. Charitable status does not confer immunity from greed, just as LA run schools are not immune from incompetence or, occasionally, fraud. However, much of the anger within the anti-academies movement comes from the cavalier fashion in which schools are handed over to outfits who don't just lack the breadth and experience that exists within an LA-run system, but are sometimes politically motivated to throw out existing good practice with no regard for what will replace it or who will pick up the pieces if it goes wrong.

prh47bridge Sat 15-Mar-14 00:12:37

Breckland is run by SABRES Educational Trust. The Governors are the Trustees of the charity. They have chosen to contract management of the school to IES for which they pay IES an annual management fee, but everything still belongs to the Trust which also employs the staff. What has happened there is certainly a blow to IES which is very successful in Sweden - I understand its schools there have pass rates significantly above the national average at the Swedish equivalent of GCSEs. I understand IES realised there were problems and got there before Ofsted but my information here is third hand so may not be accurate. It is definitely the case that the Ofsted visit was a week before the arrival of the new head teacher, the original head having left in November.

I agree completely that there is no way of organising schools that is proof against fraud, etc.

Most of the new convertors do not have sponsors, so they are being handed over to their governors. Inevitably some academies get it wrong just as some community schools do. The process for dealing with an academy in special measures is well established and can ultimately lead to the school being removed from the control of whatever charity is responsible. It would be nice if we could get to a point where no school ever went into special measures but realistically I doubt that is possible.

I am not arguing for academies and I am definitely not saying everything in the garden is rosy. Just trying to get the facts right.

TheGreatHunt Sat 15-Mar-14 07:36:50

Harris our local chain and one of our local schools. My concern was that it felt quite corporate and the focus was quite narrow in terms of what they wanted the children to achieve.

Becoming part of a chain also makes the school less accountable to the local community eg the governors are now a closed shop.

And yes harris went with their own uniform and logo despite "consultation". Complete farce IMO.

TheGreatHunt Sat 15-Mar-14 07:37:07

This is a primary school BTW.

Neverhere Sat 15-Mar-14 08:19:29

Ours changed to be an independent academy (through own choice despite political views) to stop being pulled into an academy chain that has most of the surrounding schools. We wanted to stay the same. The money coming straight to school was a big incentive as as a good school we received very little support for LA. That additional money has halved this year.
It's going to be tough for schools whether they are academies or not!

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